Music’s original made-for-TV act, the Monkees, celebrates its 45th anniversary this summer with a reunion tour. And unlike some of the other times when Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, Davy Jones (and on rare occasion, Mike Nesmith) have regrouped, there hasn’t been a release of a greatest-hits set, an album or some other companion event to enhance the occasion.
If you go
What: The Monkees, in concert.
When: 7:30 p.m. July 9.
Where: Sleep Country Amphitheater, 17200 N.E. Delfel Road, Ridgefield.
Cost: $48.50 through Ticketmaster, 800-745-3000 or http://ticketmaster.com.
Information: 360-816-7000 or http://sleepcountryamphitheater.com.
But make no mistake, in an era when music is more omnipresent in television than ever, the Monkees’ impact is being felt more strongly than at any time since the group’s original heyday.
Look no further than “Glee,” the hit Fox TV series, said Monkees singer-drummer Dolenz.
The Monkees started as “a television show about this imaginary group that lived in an imaginary beach house and had these imaginary adventures,” Dolenz said. “But all the members of the cast, as it were, could actually sing and play and dance and act. And ‘Glee’ is very similar. It’s a television show about an imaginary glee club that doesn’t really exist. … They can all sing and dance and act. So I would say that’s the closest thing that has happened since ‘The Monkees.’”
Of course, “Glee” is not the only current show that has had parallels to the Monkees’ TV show, which was a huge hit during its run from 1966 to 1968.
Disney, as Dolenz noted, has acknowledged that the original Monkees TV series had a major influence on music-themed shows that helped launch the careers of Miley Cyrus (in “Hannah Montana”), Demi Lovato, the Jonas Brothers and Selena Gomez.
Still, no other TV show has ever quite captured the mix of madcap humor and quality pop music that came together on the original “The Monkees” show.
Dolenz, who was a seasoned actor by the time “The Monkees” debuted — he starred as a young boy in the popular TV series “Circus Boy” under the name of Mickey Braddock — recalls having a special feeling about the project after auditioning for the pilot.
“I was up for two or three different pilots that year (1965) that were musically oriented,” Dolenz said.
Of “The Monkees,” he remembers thinking, “You know, I think this is really going to be a good one. I really would like to get this part,” he said.
During the show’s three-year run, the Monkees were a triple-media threat, drawing huge TV audiences, reeling off hit songs such as “Pleasant Valley Sunshine,” “Daydream Believer,” “Last Train To Clarksville” and “I’m a Believer,” and filling venues as a touring act.
The group worked relentlessly, often putting in long hours Monday through Friday, and working weekends as well.
“It was a couple of years of very, very intense work: 10, 12 hours a day doing the TV show,” Dolenz said. “Then, I would end up going into the studio at night to record sometimes two or three lead vocals a night. Then, we started rehearsing on the weekends for the tour.”
The show only lasted until 1968, but the Monkees continued recording until 1970. (They made a film, “Head,” in 1968 — complete with a soundtrack — after the show was canceled.)
There have been occasional reunion tours over the years, including a 1996 outing in support of a new studio CD, “Justus,” which was written and recorded entirely by Dolenz, Nesmith, Tork and Jones.
This time around, it’s just Dolenz, Tork and Jones. Nesmith, who Dolenz said does not like to tour, declined to participate. Fans can expect to hear all of the group’s hits, plus a couple of new twists they might not have heard on past reunion tours, Dolenz said.
“This time, we’re doing the entire soundtrack to the movie (“Head”), which we did as a pure cult movie. But it has some wonderful songs,” Dolenz said. “And then, we also did a poll. We took a poll on the Internet about what songs the fans want to hear that we have not done before in concert. They came back with some very interesting choices. So we’re doing a few of those, too.”