Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rant #323: Good Time To Be a Monkee

With the good vibes that I got for my Micky Dolenz post yesterday, I thought I would delve a little bit deeper into what the other former Monkees are doing with their lives more than 40 years after they hit it big as members of the Pre-Fab Four.

Although the public associates them only with that magic 1966-1970 time period--and mainly with the 1966-1968 run of their TV series--Peter Tork, Davy Jones and Michael Nesmith have never rested with their laurels, always moving ahead to do something new and different with their lives.

Sure, they will always be Monkees--Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr will always be Beatles, that is just the way it is--but they haven't really looked back, or at least looked back enough that they have been engulfed by what was then versus what is now (yes, a play on the name of their 1986 comeback hit).

Peter Tork has had probably the roughest go at it of the foursome. He left the group in 1969, supposedly formed a group named Release which didn't release anything, was in and out of the news as drug and alcohol woes stunted his professional growth, but in the late 1970s, he began a personal and professional resurgence that continues to this day.

In addition to being a part of the Monkees resurgence in concert and on record, Tork formed a blues band, Shoe Suede Blues, and has toured the country in small venues with this ensemble. In early 2008, Tork added "advice columnist" to his extensive resume by authoring an online advice and info column called "Ask Peter Tork" at the webzine The Daily Panic, located at thedailypanic.com.

Diagnosed with a rare form of throat cancer, he beat the cancer initially, but it returned about a year ago. He is currently in remission.

Davy Jones is the quintessential teen idol, and was voted the No. 1 teen idol of all time by a poll a few years back. After the Monkees, Jones continued to sing and act, and did extensive stage work back in his native England. He also graduated to the role of Fagin in Oliver (remember, he was the Artful Dodger as a kid on Broadway).

Along with Tork and Dolenz, he was a part of the Monkees resurgence, and he is the one former Monkee who has never escaped the title of teen idol. In fact, a local Long Island band, Sorethumb, recorded a song, "I Wanna Be Your Davy Jones," which Jones participated in via a video for the song.

He still sings and acts all over the country, and he lives on a farm in rural Pennsylvania. He recently married a much younger Telemundo presenter, and he looks about 20 years younger than his age.

Michael Nesmith has the most successful post-Monkees recording career of the foursome, having hits "Joanne" and "Silver Moon" in the early 1970s. He went on to form Pacific Arts, one of the first companies devoted to music video, and yes, he inherited the Liquid Paper fortune from his mom, which I am sure helped matters when things were slow.

He recorded numerous solo albums, won a Grammy award, and even joined the Monkees on tour (briefly). He also recorded Justus with his former bandmates, a terrific album if you can find it. It fell through the cracks, but was a fine recording.

He still records on occasion, oversees a think tank, and pops up here and there when the cause interests him.

And, oh yes, I forgot about this yesterday, but Micky is starring in a SyFy TV movie with the likes of two other former teen idols, Debbie Gibson and Tiffany!

Those are pretty thumbnail glimpses into the post-Monkee lives of the foursome. I am sure you can find more on the Internet about their current whereabouts.

But let's face it--the listing of Micky Dolenz yesterday as the top Yahoo trend shows that people are still interested in these guys all these years later. Sure, they were a "manufactured image, to that we all agree," as taken from their film, "Head," but they managed to make their mark in time during a very special time in our history.

I doubt they will ever get together as a band again, but the memories that they have given us more than makes up for that.

And yes, I still have my albums, 45s, comic books, bubblegum cards ...

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