Childhood disease shaped playing style of the Monkees’ Micky Dolenz: ‘I was starting from square one’

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When the Monkees initially began recording, sessions musicians filled in for the neophyte Micky Dolenz at the drums. When he decided to learn to play himself, things became even more difficult.

It wasn’t just living up to a standard set by the legends who’d performed on the earlier Monkees records, members of the co-called Wrecking Crew like Hal Blaine and Earl Palmer, either.

“I had a leg disease, a bone disease, called leg Perthese,” Dolenz tells The Washington Post, “and it weakened my right hip. It never really caused me too much problem, and still doesn’t — except that I do tend to lead with my left in any sports or something like that. My right leg’s a little bit weaker.”

That leg to another moment of canny improvisation for the gifted Dolenz, who’s on tour again with fellow Monkees Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork.

“Back when I was 20, 25 years old,” Dolenz adds, “and I sat down at the kit the first time, and I started playing the kick drum with my right leg. It started to get tired, and started to hurt a bit — kind of an arthritic kind of a problem. Not terrible, but it did hurt a bit. The teacher that I had at the time [John Carlos], he just said, since I was starting from square one, he said: ‘Forget it.'”

Dolenz taught himself to play using his left foot for the kick drum, and the hi-hat with his right leg. He then focused on the snare with his left hand, forming a memorable V-formation over the kit.

The Monkees — minus Davy Jones, who died in 2012 — presented a 12-city tour last November. They are back on the road through August.

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