Micky Dolenz remembers Mike Nesmith’s return to Monkees: ‘It brought tears to my eyes’

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After so long away, Mike Nesmith’s first steps back toward the Monkees were understandably tentative.

His old pal Micky Dolenz was there to ease the transition during a deeply emotional initial practice session. “I had to teach him the chords!” Dolenz quips, laughing, in a newly posted talk with Kevin Pollak. “Well, not quite. But, yeah, he hadn’t sung that stuff in years. It was amazing, and it brought tears to my eyes.”

After the Monkees’ late-1960s hey day, Nesmith didn’t return for nearly 20 years, appearing with Dolenz, Davy Jones and Peter Tork at the Greek. He then helped orchestrate the final four-man reunion of the band, with 1997’s Justus. After another lengthy layoff, Nesmith began touring with Dolenz and Tork as the Monkees again, starting in 2012 after Jones’ untimely death.

If anything, these long-hoped-for reunions have given Dolenz a deeper appreciation for the talent he always knew Nesmith possessed — even when the original Monkees handlers didn’t seem to. “I always loved his material,” says Dolenz, who is gearing up for a pair of dates in April at Ontario — some of the first Monkees dates in Canada since 2002.

“It’s so hard to explain, because there’s the Monkees, which had wonderful songs,” he adds. “They were written by Boyce and Hart, Carole King and these incredible writers, and produced well. It was wonderful material that I sing to this day. But behind the scenes, there was this undercurrent — mainly, Mike — of being frustrated. When it came time to start recording and getting the music together, he brought in a few of his songs and, basically, they said, ‘No, this is not Monkee music.’ So he took one of the songs that they turned down, and he goes to this young girl singer who was kicking around Los Angeles at the time named Linda Ronstadt.”

That became Ronstadt’s breakout debut single, “A Different Drum,” which went to No. 13 in 1967.

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