biography

NOTE: The Monkees personal lives continue to be a source of interest to fans who love both the show and their music.  Questions about their personal lives have followed the Monkees from their first success to the present; and while Micky and Davy have written biographies to help answer these questions, Peter and Mike continue to lead private lives, giving occasional interviews, but not speaking extensively on their time in the Monkees.  These brief biographies are included to help fans know the Monkees a little better.

Davy Jones

David Jones, although perhaps best remembered as "Davy", one of THE MONKEES, was wowing the critics on Broadway and in the West End long before television made him an international idol. Since those heady days of the sixties, he has never strayed far from the public eye, consolidating his many talents as an entertainer.

David is a Manchester boy "born and bred". It was in the BBC Radio Studios in Manchester, England, that David's career began at the age of 11. He became a firm favorite with the listeners as a regular reader of The Morning Story and of several radio plays. His cheerful voice and popularity won him the role of Edna Sharples' granson in the day-time drama "Coronation Street" along with various roles in many other television shows.

At 14, David left home to become an apprentice jockey at the world famous Newmarket racing stasbles, and there he might have stayed had fate not intervened. A visiting theatrical agent had seen him in "Coronation Street", and when they met, he was impressed by David's natural exuberance and extroverted personality. With some gentle persuasion from him and David's father, the young David Jones found himself at The Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon playing Michael Darling in "Peter Pan".

More television and stage work followed, but it was playing the role of The Artful Dodger in David Merrick's West End production of the smash hit "Oliver!" that really sealed David's fate. At Mr. Merrick's insistence, he went on to play the part on Broadway - to much critical acclaim (including a Tony Award nomination). Following that came the role of Sam Weller opposite Sir Harry Secombe in another Merrick production, "Pickwick".

It was on the strength of David's success and popularity on the American stage that he was offered a contract with Columbia Pictures/Screen Gems Television. Having signed him to their "stable" of talent, they had the idea of creating a new television series around this "young British kid" with a proposed story line about four young musicians who were trying to make it in the pop world. The rest is history. The Monkees was a phenomenal success, rating millions of viewers throughout the world and selling millions of records. Even as recently as 1986, The Monkees had ten albums in the Billboard charts.

The scope of his performances is wide and varied, but it is the theatre that remains David's first love. In the late 1970's, he successfully recreated his role as The Artful Dodger in "Oliver!" in the United States, playing along side Ron Moody. He was on tour following that in a major production of "The Boyfriend", and in 1978, he played the lead role of Oblio in the stage version of the musical "The Point" at London's Mermaid Theatre. The mid-eighties found David playing all the major theatres in Great Britain and Ireland to sell-out audiences as Jesus in "Godspell". The incredible box office success of the tour earmarked it for a West End run into the beginning of 1986 where audiences laughed, cried, and cheered at his much praised performance as Jesus.

Voted "Cutest Guy" by Nickelodeon for 1986 and 1987, David also appeared in the most highly acclaimed episodes of the American television series "My Two Dads". In 1993, fans found him once again guest starring as himself in an episode of the popular "Herman's Head."

Everything, they say, turns full circle and, in 1988, David was asked to play Fagin in "Oliver!" at Kansas City's Starlight Theatre. He played every night to capacity houses and received much critical acclaim for his performance. He has since played Fagin in Florida and Seattle, and in the summer of 1993, he enjoyed another successful run in Kansas City and St. Louis.

Never one to stay put for long, David has been touring with his band all over the United States, Australia, and Canada. He was received with standing ovations when he played himself on stage in "The Real Live Brady Bunch" in New York, Los Angeles, Pontica, Michigan, and Chicago, Illinois. The success of David's "Brady" episode launched a national tour with the show with appearances at nearly 30 different colleges and universities.

He has recently completed a new book, "Mutant Monkees Meet the Masters of the Multimedia Manipulation Machine," about the early days of The Monkees, a follow up to the successful publication of and booksigning tour for "They Made A Monkee Out of Me."

David is a very keen and able horseman and holds an amateur jockey licence. He has a serious ambition to win The Grand National. He is also a regular on the charity sports circuit riding race horses and playing football, tennis, and golf. His proudest effort for charity was successfully completing the London Marathon in a credible 3 hours and 40 minutes. Most recently, a Multiple Sclerosis research fund has been established in David's name.


Mickey Dolenz

While most Americans would know him best as an actor/singer, there is another side to Micky Dolenz...and it's been on the other side of the cameras and the other side of the Atlantic.

In addition to his well-known success as a performer in American television/film/recordings and on the British stage, Dolenz has spent the last 12 years as a prominent director/producer in the U.K. "I've had the best of both worlds," he says. "The opportunity to work in two very different forms of the same medium and fuse the best of each into something unique...a new style...a new way of approach."

Micky Dolenz was born in Los Angeles and literally grew up on American television, starring in his first series, "Circus Boy," when he was 10. The show ran on NBC-TV for three years. In 1966, Micky was chosen from over 400 applicants for a sought-after role in the NBC-TV series, "The Monkees". "I was hired as an actor to play the role of a drummer," says Micky. By the age of 19, he had become an international phenomenon, selling over 60 million records as lead singer of THE MONKEES.

The success of "THE MONKEES" enabled Micky to extend his career credits -- directing an episode of the show, as well as several commercials. A series of spots he directed for NASA featured such notables as Charlton Heston, Jessie Jackson, Frank Sinatra, Whoopi Goldberg and Willie Nelson explaining the benefits medicine has derived from the space program. Micky also appeared in the cult film, "HEAD" (written by Jack Nicholson) with fellow-Monkees Davy Jones, Peter Tork and Michael Nesmith.

In 1976, Dolenz moved to the U.K. to star in Harry Nilsson's west end musical, "The Point." He made his British directorial debut with the BBC drama, "Story Without a Hero". "I had a wonderful time at the BBC...it launched my career as a director," Micky says. "Commercial consideration was not the driving force. Innovation was the name of the game and it made for a refreshing and stimulating atmosphere."

Micky co-created, produced and directed London Weekend Television's award-winning series, "Metal Micky." Continuing to focus on situation comedy/family-oriented programming, Micky served as producer, director and/or creator of a series of projects, including the LWT sitcom "No Problem!" and Central TV's "Luna" ("a fantasy series about a little girl living in the future...kind of 'The Jetsons' meets 'Happy Days'"). Micky also acquired the re-make rights of "Fernwood Tonight," starring Martin Mull and went on to produce and direct an original English version for Channel 4. "I had planned on staying in the U.K. for three months," he says. "Twelve years later I was still there!"

Continuing to maintain a strong U.K. profile, Micky has brought back to the States the experience he has gained in the widely-diverse American and British marketplaces and has made Los Angeles his base. He has recently completed directing "Aladdin" (starring Barry Bostwick), a pilot for The Disney Channel. Micky has also acquired the re-make rights to "The Comedian," originally a Playhouse '90 special starring Mickey Rooney and directed by John Frankenheimer. Dolenz plans to develop the project as a theatrical release and will star in the title role.

The recent MONKEES' reunion tours proved to be highly successful and provided Micky with a welcome return to music and recording. He is currently at work on his first solo album which will be released later this year.

Dolenz is instilled with an energy and creative motivation that has provided him with a unique advantage in the U.S. marketplace. "It's important to me that my work has an unusual and istinctive look," he says. "I enjoy developing a concept and then seeing it through to completion. It's reminiscent of the old-fashioned filrm industry...one man, one vision...even though it's a collaborative effort in the end."

From acting to recording, from producing and directing to writing, Dolenz' enthusiasm for his business exhibits an intensity that has only grown over the years. "I used to be known as the singing drummer...then I was known as the singing director," he laughs. "I don't know what I would be doing if it wasn't for this business. It's what I've done all my life and yet it's always a learning experience...and I'm looking forward to experiencing a lot more."


Mike Nesmith

Robert Michael Nesmith was born December 30, 1942 in Dallas, Texas. He began his career as a musician. He moved from his native Texas to California; intent on breaking into the movie business. Spotting an ad calling for four musicians to act in a TV series, he landed a leading role with The Monkees. They quickly became a pop culture phenomenon, which catapulted the young Nesmith to stardom. While a member of The Monkees, Nesmith continued to write and sing his own songs. He received critical and commercial acclaim for his song "Different Drum", a 1967 US Top 20 hit for Linda Ronstadt.

Nesmith left The Monkees in 1970 to form The First National Band. Pioneer of the genre later to be dubbed country rock, he released a series of albums for RCA. Magnetic South, the 1970 debut LP included the Top 30 single "Joanne", followed by Loose Salute and 1971? Nevada Fighter.

When The First National Band dissolved that same year, Nesmith formed The Second National Band with steel guitarist Red Rhodes. Although they released only one album, 1972? Tantamount To Treason Volume One, they continued to refine the country/rock sound that was to influence a new breed of artists such as Gram Parsons, The Byrds, Poco, The Flying Burrito Bros. and New Riders of The Purple Sage.Other Michael Nesmith albums were quick to follow: And The Hits Just Keep On Comin· and Pretty Much Your Standard Ranch Stash were released on Nesmith? own Countryside label founded with Jac Holzman (founder of Elektra Records), and distributed by RCA.

When Countryside dissolved, Nesmith left RCA to launch his own communications company, Pacific Arts Corporation.

The Prison, an ambitious multi-media book/record combination, was the corporation? first release in 1975. This was followed in 1976 by the LP From A Radio Engine To A Photon Wing and featured the hit single "Rio". On the heels of "Rio?" chart success, Nesmith produced its filmed accompaniment, and in the process, helped set a precedent for modern day music videos.

Nesmith went on tour performing behind the single "Rio". While appearing in Australia, he noted an interest in Top 40 television shows that played video clips of performing artists. Back in the states, Nesmith put together a half-hour prototype Top 40 show called "Popclips". Ultimately, Nesmith sold both the show and the concept to Warner Amex, and "Popclips" was reborn as MTV. Michael Nesmith was the creator of the idea that eventually became MTV.

In 1979, Nesmith recorded Infinite Rider On The Big Dogma, which would prove to be his last release for nearly a decade. Turning his talents and attention to the motion picture industry, he made 56 half-hour "Popclips" for Warner and produced short films for "Saturday Night Live" and "Fridays".

In 1981, Nesmith created a video record entitled "Elephant Parts", a film-length mix of comedy and pop video. Michael Nesmith won the very first Video Grammy Award in 1982 for his outstanding work in "Elephant Parts". Nesmith then produced and starred in eight episodes of "Michael Nesmith in Television Parts", an NBC comedy show in the mid-80?.

Between "Elephant Parts" and "Television Parts", Nesmith co-wrote, produced and scored the film "Timerider" and was the producer of "Repoman", "Tapeheads", and "Square Dance". In 1989, Michael Nesmith reunited with The Monkees when they were presented with a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.

In 1989, Nesmith returned to his music and assembled a compilation of unreleased tracks and selected cuts from his later LP? entitled "The Newer Stuff".In late 1991, Rhino Records released another CD collection from his earlier LP? entitled, fittingly, "The Older Stuff": The Best of Michael Nesmith (1970-73).

In September of 1992, Michael Nesmith launched his independent record label, Pacific Arts Audio, with the release of his long awaited "...tropical campfires...". Nesmith fans consider this album to be one of his best works.

In addition to releasing his own work, Nesmith signed The Hellecasters and released two albums by them,"Return Of The Hellecasters" and "Escape from Hollywood". In just under a years time, The Hellecasters won three awards for 1993; "Best Overall Guitar LP" & "Best Country LP" in the prestigious Guitar Player Magazine? readers poll, and "Top 2 Roots LP" in Guitar World Magazine.

"The Garden" was released in September of 1994.This outstanding multi-media package was nominated for a Grammy Award in the new age category. It is the second part of a work Nesmith started in 1974 entitled "The Prison". Like The Prison, The Garden is a book and music designed to be experienced simultaneously.

Michael Nesmith reunited with The Monkees once again in 1996 to celebrate their 30 year anniversary.The group released a new album JUSTUS, that featured songs that were all written and played by The Monkees. Nesmith produced the album.

Michael Nesmith has written his first novel The Long Sandy Hair Of Neftoon Zamora, which was released by St Martins Press in December of 1998


Peter Tork

Peter Halsten Thorkelson was born in Washington, D.C., on February 13, 1942 to John and Virginia Thorkelson. He was the oldest of the Monkees even though this fact was concealed so that Mike Nesmith could assume the job as leader of the group. When he was younger, Peter and his family moved quite a bit, and even ended up in Berlin, Germany at one point until his family finally settled into Connecticut. His father assumed a job at the University of Connecticut teaching economics.

Peter began mastering musical instruments at a very early age. At nine, he studied piano and later took up the banjo and acoustic guitar. He attended Carleton College in Minnesota, but he flunked out twice, so he decided to seek his fame and fortune in the Greenwich Village scene of New York. There he played in clubs and cafes, trying to make a living. While in New York, he befriended Stephen Stills and his first wife Jody. His first marriage was short lived however, only lasting three months. He realized that he would not find fame in New York, so Peter made his way to California.

In California, Peter had hoped to make it big, but ended up working a dishwashing job for $50 a week. Peter met up with his friend from the Village, Stills, and got a job playing piano for him in the group, The Buffalo Fish. It was Stills who got Peter the audition for The Monkees, after he was rejected for thinning hair and crooked teeth. Peter auditioned and got the job, his musical ability and his ability to play a convincing dummy landed him the role.

"I played a simpleton," Peter said about his part in the television show. "It was a character I had developed on the Greenwich Village stages as a way of protecting myself against the result of my bad jokes."

While The Monkees was a terrific opportunity, there were many tales of hard times for Peter during the project. But apparently Peter knew what he was getting into. "The goal was what happened. Nobody was taken by surprise. I wasn't taken by surprise but the magnitude."

However, his lack of creative control over the music was disappointing. On the first album, Peter was only allowed to play fourth chair acoustic guitar on Mike's song "Papa Gene's Blues." Studio musicians were brought in to play on the album. The second album was more of a shock for all the Monkees because it was released without their consent. They were on tour at the time and were given no input on any of the album.

"The second record was so angering, because Donnie almost militantly cut us out of the process. By the time we were playing our own music onstage, and we were righteously pissed that the album was released without our knowing anything at all about it. We thought those tracks were being recorded for the TV show, not a new album. We were on the road at the time, and somebody went across the street to the mall to get a copy. We had to buy the album just to hear it."

This caused a revolt against the "golden ear," Donnie Kirshner. Mike and Peter were the most prominent protesters bringing Davy and Micky along for the ride. "What we asked for was to be allowed to be the studio musicians on our own records. We did not ask for creative control. We did not ask to be the producers. We did not ask to replace Kirshner·The order came from Bob to Kirshner 'The next single must have the boys themselves being the musicians on the B-side.' So Donnie put out a record where professional studio had done both sides. He released the record in Canada. Fired, bam! Just like that."

After Kirshner was gone, Headquarters was the next album project. Chip Douglas was brought in to produce the album and the boys played almost all the instruments on all the tracks. Peter very much enjoyed the studio time. He was finally given some creative control over his music. He even got a song he had written on the album, "For Pete's Sake," which was adopted as the ending credits number on the show for the second season. "It was honest, it was pure and we had a great time," Micky Dolenz said of the Headquarters sessions. "Peter says that the reason he quit was because after we did this album, we decided we weren't going to be a group anymore. It broke his heart, because Headquarters was the whole reason why he'd become one of The Monkees."

Peter wasn't one to embrace his stardom though. He immersed himself in the lifestyle of the 60's; love beads, paisley clothes, and, of course, chemical stimulants. Peter was the most hippie-like of the four Monkees.

After the cancellation of the Monkees in 1968, the group moved onto movies. The Monkees starred in their first, and only, feature length movie, Head. The movie was not much success, and has now become a cult classic. There have been given many interpretations of this movie, but the most common is the one that it is an explanation of The Monkees phenomenon. In the end, the Monkees leap off a bridge, trying to escape their teeny bopper image.

In late 1968, Peter finally quit The Monkees with the official reason of suffering from exhaustion, which was not far from the truth. Soon after he formed a group, Release, with his girlfriend Reine Stewart. Release was not long lasting, and it did not release any vinyls.

Soon Peter's money began to run out, having spent his Monkees millions. In order to keep his house, he had to rent it out to his buddy, Stephen Stills who was just beginning a group with David Crosby and Graham Nash. Peter was finally forced to sell in 1970, and he and his pregnant girlfriend, Stewart, moved into the basement of David Crosby's home. Soon after, Peter was busted for hashish possession, spending three months in an Oklahoma penitentiary. After he was released, he spent time between odd jobs.

A few years later, Peter ended up back in Southern California where he married Barbara Iannoli and took a job teaching at Pacific Hills School in Santa Monica. He taught many subjects including math and music, and also coached baseball. Teaching was not very successful because he couldn't get along with the system, so he was fired. He tried another school, but it ended the same way.

Peter finally decided to go back to show biz. He went out on his own and formed a few groups, the most notable being Peter Tork and The New Monks (no relation to The Monkees). They toured in Japan in the early 80's.

At that time, he finally realized he had a drinking problem, and he did something about it. "The bottom came for me in June, 1980," he said. "Then I managed to quit drinking. The following January I had my last toke of grass and last toot of snow. Since then my career has been puttering along at a steady rate." Peter then moved to New York, forming The Peter Tork Project.

Now Peter has a solo album, Stranger Things Have Happened and he has perfomed many solo shows. He also has an album, Two Man Band, with friend, James Lee Stanley. Peter can still be seen in solo shows, mostly in Southern California, with his blues band, Shoe Suede Blues, or doing shows with James Lee Stanley.
 

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