He was born George Michael Dolenz, Jr., but you can call him Micky - that’s already what millions upon millions of Monkees fans call him anyway. As perhaps the group's most affable faces - and, indeed, the last of the four great Monkee musicians to still be alive - Dolenz's face and voice are synonymous with joyful pop and good times. Have a listen to 10 Monkees songs from throughout the group’s career where our man Micky really gets the chance to shine.
“Last Train to Clarksville” (1966): Composed by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, the songwriting duo whose contributions were invaluable to The Monkees’ career (the reverse might also be said as well), this classic was recorded at RCA Victor Studio B in Hollywood on July 25, 1966 and released less than a month later, on Aug. 16, if that gives you an idea how quickly things were moving for the group at the time. Hey, that’s what happens when you’ve got the combined power of Don Kirshner and Screen Gems in your corner!
“She” (1967): Written once again by Boyce and Hart, this song opened The Monkees’ second album – appropriately titled More of The Monkees – and it did so with a chorus that still demands your attention even 55 years after its original release. Definitely one of the greatest Micky moments from the first few years of the group.
“(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” (1967): Another one written by Boyce and Hart, but this is one that the songwriting duo actually intended for Paul Revere and The Raiders...and, indeed, The Raiders are the ones who released it first, including it on their 1966 album Midnight Ride. In an knowing wink to this situation, the Monkees later covered a song best known as a Raiders tune: “Kicks,” which appeared as one of the obligatory new tracks on Then & Now: The Best of The Monkees.
“Randy Scouse Git” (1967): In February 1967, The Monkees visited the U.K., and while they were there, The Beatles threw a party for them, attended not only by the Fab Four but also by Cass Elliott and Samantha Juste, a.k.a. the future Mrs. Dolenz, although she’s also recognized as “the being known as Wonder Girl.” Yes, you’re figuring it out now: the controversial “Randy Scouse Git” was inspired by the party, so you can now identify “the girl in yellow dress” (Elliott) and “the four kings of EMI” (the Beatles) referenced in the lyrics. And why, you ask, was it controversial? Lay the blame on its title: Dolenz borrowed the phrase from an episode of Till Death Us Do Part, which he’d watched while he was in London, little realizing that its translation was – more or less – “horny Liverpudlian jerk.” (Fun fact: Till Death was remade in America as All in the Family.) This didn’t go over so well when it came time to uttering the song’s name on the air, so RCA England told Micky that they needed an alternate title, and according to Micky, he just said, “Okay, ‘Alternate Title’ is it.” So that’s how it was listed in the U.K. charts.
“Daily Nightly” (1967): Although this song was written by Michael Nesmith, it features vocals from Micky and, far more importantly, it also features Micky playing his heart out on his brand new Moog synthesizer. Was it the first time a Moog was used on a pop record? Quincy Jones would argue on that matter – he says he holds that claim, thanks to using it on the theme for Ironside – but no matter whose side you take, it's hard to argue against this song as a landmark of sorts in rock.
READ MORE: Michael Nesmith of The Monkees Dead at 78
“P.O. Box 9847” (1968): The last of the Boyce/Hart songs in our list, this track from The Birds, The Bees and The Monkees makes no bones about what it is – the recitation of a newspaper ad – but leave it to Micky to have the words rolling off his tongue despite the weirdness of the premise.
“Shorty Blackwell” (1969): Released on Instant Replay, the group’s first LP as a trio (with Peter Tork having left after the band made their movie, Head), Dolenz revealed in the liner notes to the deluxe edition of the album that the song was named after his cat. “That was my little attempt to do ‘A Day in the Life’ or something,” said Dolenz, and whether it met that lofty goal or not, it definitely remains an outside-the-box track.
“Mommy and Daddy” (1969): Released on The Monkees Present, this slightly creepy sounding tune also made its way onto the B-side of the album’s second single, “Good Clean Fun,” but it didn’t make any chart headway on its own. That said, Micky delivers some entertaining vocals that make the song a great deal of fun.
“Heart and Soul” (1987): While the Monkees’ ’87 reunion album Pool It! wasn’t the commercial smash that the band might’ve hoped, it did at least spawn a minor hit single with this track, which – in addition to giving Micky a chance to remind people how strong his voice still was – gave the guys a chance to have fun in a video.
“Terrifying” (2016): Although this song by Rogue Wave frontman Zach Rogue was only a bonus track on the Monkees’ 2016 reunion album, Good Times!, we steadfastly believe that this is Micky’s finest moment on an album filled with fine moments. We still don’t know why it didn’t make the album proper, but at least it’s out there for your listening enjoyment if you take the time to look for it.