Micky Dolenz is a man of many talents. He’s an actor. He’s a comedian. He’s a songwriter and guitarist. He’s an amateur engineer. He’s a practical joker. He’s a very nice guy. Oh, and he was in a band called The Monkees that some of you may be familiar with. Dolenz, who will play with his band at 9 p.m. Saturday, July 3, at Hollywood Slots Hotel & Raceway in Bangor, is best known for being a member of the iconic 1960s group and accompanying TV show. Aug. 2-4, Dolenz will participate in the My Record Fantasy program in Sacramento, Calif., which allows fans of the performer to sit in for a few days on the final recording sessions of his new album, “King For a Day.” For information, visit www.myrecordfantasy.com.
The Bangor Daily News spoke to him by phone while he was in Los Angeles.
Bangor Daily News: Before The Monkees, did you want to play in a rock band?
Mickey Dolenz: I was born into a showbiz family. My mom and dad were both actors and singers. They actually met doing a play. So I grew up in that environment, which was acting, singing, music, piano lessons. I thought everyone’s dad was an actor. My first instrument was piano, but I didn’t like it very much, so I graduated to classical guitar, like Andres Segovia. I noticed the girls liked that I played guitar, but they didn’t know much about Segovia. They knew folk music, though, so I played the Kingston Trio instead. From that I graduated into rock ’n’ roll.
BDN: You have a lot of side projects from music — your website [www.mickydolenz.com] says you’ve invented something called the Hang-It-All, which makes it easier to hang frames on a wall. Did you ever want to be an engineer?
MD: [The Hang-It-All] isn’t quite out in stores yet. It’s my first patent. I have a total shop in my garage that I’m always tinkering in. It’s funny, just before The Monkees, when I was doing not as much acting, I went to university to be an architect. I figured, now that I’d already been a child star, I was going to be an architect and do showbiz on the side. I could always fall back on acting. But, then The Monkees happened. I still love that kind of thing.
BDN: The Monkees were legendarily known for being pranksters. What’s the best joke or prank you ever played on a fellow band member?
MD: Well, the whole thing was a joke. The whole experience was like being in a massive Marx Brothers movie. I remember a friend of Mike Nesmith’s, a wonderful guy from Texas named John. We all ended up sharing a house during the early days of the show. John had just gotten to Los Angeles. He was notoriously late all the time. He always overslept, and it got to be really bad — so bad they were going to fire him.
Being a bit of a handyman and a geek and a gadget guy, even to this day, I went to the hardware store and got a really, really loud doorbell, like something that would be in a stable or something. I wired it through the house by his bed and into my room. The next morning we were getting up and noticed John was not up yet. So we all gathered around, I threw the switch, and he just flew out of bed. He was on the bottom bunk of a bunk bed, so he smashed his head through the top bunk. He freaked out. He was mad until we explain that he nearly lost his job for being late. Then he was thankful.
BDN: You were in the London production of “Hairspray” as Wilbur Turnblad, Tracey’s father, in addition to many other theatrical productions. What drives you to do so much theater?
MD: They originally asked me to be Edna Turnblad, the character played by a man dressing as a woman. To be honest, I didn’t see myself in the fat suit. So, I played her husband, Wilbur, which is a great part. The song “Timeless to Me” is a showstopper. I’m very fond of musical theater. It’s one of my favorite things to do. I did a national tour of “Pippin” and I did “Aida” on Broadway for a year, and a national tour. I really, really like it.