Micky Dolenz – The Monkees Lead Singer and Cruise Host
After selling more than 65 million records worldwide as the star of THE MONKEES TV show, Micky Dolenz has continued to make his mark in other areas of the entertainment business, through his varied career as an actor, director, producer and performer.
Micky was born in Los Angeles on March 8, 1945. His dad, George, had starred in a number of films and in the mid 1950s in the television series, “The Count of Monte Cristo.” Micky first established himself as a performer at age 10 when, under the stage name of Micky Braddock, he starred in his first TV series, “Circus Boy,” which aired on NBC from 1956-1958. In his teens, Micky guest-starred on a number of television shows and also learned to play guitar. “I was singing hard rock including songs by the Rolling Stones and the Animals,” he says. “In fact, I auditioned for THE MONKEES singing Chuck Berry’s ‘Johnny B. Goode’.”
The Monkees audition took place in autumn 1965. Micky was one of four actors chosen out of 400 applicants who responded to a trade ad announcing auditions for a new TV show about a rock ‘n roll band. The concept was inspired by The Beatles’ film, “A Hard Day’s Night.” “I was hired as an actor to play the role of a singing drummer,” Micky recalls. “I had to learn to play drums.”
The Monkees’ debut single, “Last Train to Clarksville,” featured Micky on lead vocals, hit the charts on September 10, 1966, and rocketed to number one. Two days later, the television show debuted on NBC to great success. The TV ratings remained high for two seasons and Micky and the band starred in their own feature, “Head,” a 1969 psychedelic romp written by a young Jack Nicholson. The movie is now considered a cult classic.
Ultimately, The Monkees achieved their greatest success as recording artists. Their first four albums (The Monkees, More of the Monkees, Headquarters; and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd.) reached number one on the charts and they had three consecutive number one singles: “Clarksville,” “I’m a Believer,” and “Daydream Believer.” The group’s first five albums also went gold. After the television show, Micky continued his acting career and also did voice-over work for some animated series.
In 1977, Micky flew to London to star in Harry Nilsson’s West End Musical, “The Point.” He planned to stay three months but remained for 12 years. During that time, Micky honed his behind-the-camera skills (which he first practiced by directing episodes of “The Monkees”) by becoming prominent producer-director for the BBC and London Weekend Television. He also directed a feature film, “The Box,” written by Micheal Palin and Terry Jones of Monty Python, and helmed numerous music videos. “I had the best of both worlds,” he explains. “It was great to have the opportunity to work in two very different forms of the same medium, the commercial and the non-commercial, and fuse the best of each into something unique, a new style, a new approach.” When Micky returned to the U.S., he continued his directing career with projects for the Disney Channel and Harmony Pictures, among others.
In 1986, MTV broadcast episodes of The Monkees show and exposed a whole new generation to Monkeemania. Micky and Peter Tork recorded new tracks for Arista Records and the single, “That Was Then, This Is Now,” became their first Top 20 record since 1968. Micky, Peter and Davy Jones subsequently reunited for a 1986 summer tour that was so successful it sparked the reissue of all The Monkees’ classic LPs as well as Pool It on Rhino Records. At one point in 1987, there were seven Monkees albums on Billboard’s Top 200 LPs Chart.
In 1996, The Monkees again joined together for a “30 Year Reunion” summer tour around America. The response was such that they toured again the following year, this time finishing up in England.
More recently, Micky has spent more time behind the camera, including directing for the Michael Jacobs Production ABC/Disney hit TV show “Boy Meets World,” starring Ben Savage.