BY DAVID HINCKLEY
Among other things in an eventful life, Micky Dolenz has been a child television star, a producer, a director, a songwriter, a stage actor, a morning radio DJ and a fund-raiser.
But when he comes to My Father’s Place in Roslyn on Feb. 23, he’ll just basically be a Monkee.
“I’ve always thought you should give the people what they want,” says Dolenz, who locked in his primary identity more than half a century ago when he, Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork became the Monkees.
They had a hit TV show for two seasons, and even more memorably they blanketed pop radio with the likes of “Last Train To Clarksville,” “Daydream Believer,” “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday” and “I’m A Believer.”
Hey, hey, they were the Monkees, and if their legacy is deceptively complicated, Dolenz says their continuing appeal is no mystery.
“We had great songs,” he says. “They’re still great songs. Look who wrote them: Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Neil Diamond, Jeff Barry. And they had great production.
“People still want to hear them today. So I sing them as close as possible to the way the records sounded.”
Dolenz sang lead on most of the hits, starting with “Last Train to Clarksville,” but that’s just one reason he likes faithful replications.
“I’m a huge music fan, too,” he says, “and as a fan, that’s what I’d want.
“Growing up, I was a huge Everly Brothers fan. They were like my Beatles. I was in London in 1983 when they got back together and were doing their first reunion show at Royal Albert Hall. As my wife and I were filing in, I was saying to myself, oh please, I hope they do ‘Wake Up Little Susie’ and ‘Bye Bye Love’ and all the songs I loved.
“They did. And I said to myself that if I were ever in that position – this is before the Monkees resurgence of 1986 – I would do that, too.”
Since ’86, he’s done it with his own show and with ever-changing mix-and-match combinations of Monkees. Jones died in 2012 and Tork last year, but starting in April, Dolenz and Nesmith will be doing another Monkees tour out West.
“It’s been good to me,” says Dolenz about the Monkee biz.
If Dolenz and the Monkees always exuded innocent fun on camera, they’ve had their share of well-publicized differences off the stage. They have also woven one of the most complicated legacies in rock ‘n’ roll.
They had a hit TV show and millions of fans. They also had skeptics who said that because they formed at a TV show audition, they were a manufactured band. Because they didn’t play instruments on some of their early recordings, they were not authentic rock ‘n’ rollers.
Rock critics have tended to dismiss their music as catchy, but featherweight. Despite selling 80 or a hundred million albums, they have never received serious consideration for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Dolenz says he had a simple response when he heard those dismissals back in the day.
“I told them I didn’t give a s—,” he says. “We were too busy being successful.”
These days, he’s diplomatic. “I respect the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” he says. “Their foundation does great work. I’ve worked with them to raise money. But they’re a private club. They can invite who they want.”
The real problem, he suggests, is that 53-plus years later, “A lot of people still don’t get the Monkees.
“No one had done a TV show like this before. The year I auditioned for the Monkees, there were at least four ideas out there for TV series about music. The other three felt like they were created by guys in suits saying, ‘Let’s make a show for the kids.’ The Monkees got it. It was like the Marx Brothers. It was a confluence of rock ‘n’ roll, TV, radio stations. It was a new paradigm.
“The characters we played weren’t successful musicians. That’s what they wanted to become. This wasn’t ‘Help’ or ‘A Hard Day’s Night.’ On the show we never made it – and that’s one of the main things that endeared us to the audience. All those thousands of kids playing guitars in their garages, we were just like them.
“Look at all the shows that came after us. To me, the closest one was Glee, and by then people got it. No one watched Glee and said, ‘That’s a fake glee club.’ ”
Whatever the nuances, Dolenz does not sound unhappy. Monkee life had many upsides, such as hanging out with folks like the Beatles.
“After a while you felt like a peer with a lot of the musicians,” Dolenz says. “But with the Beatles, I always felt like a fan. Heck, I ran into Paul a couple of years ago and I realized, heck, I’m still a fan.”
Like the folks who will see him in Roslyn.
(Micky Dolenz at My Father’s Place, 1221 Old Northern Blvd., Roslyn, Feb. 23 at 3 and 7 p.m. 516-413-3535, www.myfathersplace.com. Tix $75.)