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George Michael Dolenz, Jr. (born March 8, 1945) is an American actor, musician, television director, radio personality and theatre director; he is best known as a member of the 1960s made-for-television band The Monkees.

Biography

Dolenz was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of George Dolenz, a Hollywood character actor, and his wife Janelle Johnson.

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Circus Boy

Dolenz began his show business career in 1956 when he starred in a children’s show called Circus Boy under the name Mickey Braddock.[1] In the show, he played an orphaned boy who is the water boy for the elephants in his uncle’s one-ring circus at the start of the twentieth century. The program ran for three years, after which Dolenz made sporadic appearances on network TV shows and pursued his education.

He also played with obscure rock and roll bands, including one called The Missing Links. Dolenz went to Ulysses S. Grant High School in Valley Glen, Los Angeles, California and graduated in 1962. He was attending college in Los Angeles when hired for the "drummer" role in The Monkees.

The Monkees

In 1965, Dolenz was cast in the television sitcom The Monkees and became the drummer and lead vocalist in the band created for the show. Micky said later that someone at Screen Gems forgot to contact his agent to inform him the series was picked up by NBC; he wound up learning about his new job by reading the announcement in Variety. He was not at that time a drummer, and needed lessons even to be able to mime credibly.[citation needed] (Interestingly, he learned to play right-handed and left-footed.)

Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, writers of many of The Monkees' songs, observed quickly that when brought in to the studio together, the four actors would try to crack each other up. Because of this, they would often bring in each singer individually. The antics escalated once, until Micky poured a Pepsi on Kirshner's head; at the time, Dolenz did not know Kirshner on sight.

According to Mike Nesmith, it was Dolenz's voice that made the Monkees' sound distinctive, and even during tension-filled times Nesmith and Peter Tork voluntarily turned over lead vocal duties to Dolenz on their own compositions, such as Tork's "For Pete's Sake", which became the closing title theme for the second season of the TV show. Dolenz wrote a few of the band’s songs as well as providing the lead vocals for such hits as "Last Train to Clarksville" and "I'm a Believer". Towards the end of the series’s hectic two-year run, Dolenz directed and co-wrote what turned out to be the show’s final episode.[citation needed] Despite being more of a singer than a percussionist, Micky purchased one of the first 25 Moog synthesizers, which can be quite easily heard on "Daily Nightly" (from the album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones).

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Dolenz said in a 2009 interview that The Monkees was this show that wanted to be inspired by a famed rock group, The Beatles. Like his co-star Davy Jones, Dolenz was a huge Beatle fan. When he was 22, he got to meet everybody in the band, and became good friends with George Harrison. Once when not touring, he smoked pot with Paul McCartney. In 1995 Dolenz did a Pizza Hut commercial with ex-Beatle Ringo Starr and Dolenz's own bandmates.

Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart

Thanks in part to reruns of The Monkees on Saturday mornings and in syndication, The Monkees Greatest Hits charted in 1976. The LP, issued by Arista (a subsidiary of Screen Gems), was actually a re-packaging of a 1972 compilation LP called Refocus that had been issued by Arista's previous label imprint, Bell Records, also owned by Screen Gems.

Dolenz and Jones took advantage of this, joining ex-Monkees songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart to tour the United States. From 1975 to 1977, as the "Golden Hits of The Monkees" show ("The Guys who Wrote 'Em and the Guys who Sang 'Em!"), they successfully performed in smaller venues such as state fairs and amusement parks, as well as making stops in Japan, Thailand and Singapore. They also released an album of new material as Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart (they could not use the Monkees name for legal reasons).

Nesmith had not been interested in a reunion. Tork claimed later that he had not been asked, although a Christmas single (credited to Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones and Peter Tork) was produced by Chip Douglas and released on his own label in 1976. The single featured Douglas's and Howard Kaylan's "Christmas Is My Time Of Year" (originally recorded by a 1960s supergroup, Christmas Spirit), with a B-side of Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" (Douglas released a remixed version of the single, with additional overdubbed instruments, in 1986). Tork also joined Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart on stage at Disneyland on July 4, 1976, and also joined Dolenz and Jones on stage at the Starwood in Hollywood, California in 1977.

Post-Monkees

After the television show ended and the band broke up, Dolenz hoped to continue a solo recording career, and released several singles on MGM Records (and its subsidiaries) in the early 1970s. Semi-reunions occurred between 1970 and 1986. Peter Tork helped arrange a Micky Dolenz single, "Easy on You"/"Oh Someone" in 1971. Dolenz also continued performing, providing voice-overs for a number of Saturday-morning cartoon series, and made guest appearances on prime time shows including Adam-12 and My Three Sons.[citation needed] He also auditioned for the role of Fonzie on the series Happy Days, but lost out to Henry Winkler.[citation needed]

1977 saw him performing with former band-mate Davy Jones in a stage production of the Harry Nilsson musical The Point! in London, playing the part of Arrow, Oblio's (Jones) pet dog.[citation needed] After the show’s run, he remained in England and began directing for stage and television, as well as producing several of the shows he directed.

In 1980, Dolenz produced and directed the sitcom Metal Mickey,[2] featuring a small metallic robot with the catch-phrase "boogie boogie." Because the similarity of the character's name to his own caused confusion on set, it was at this time that Micky Dolenz officially changed his name to Michael Dolenz.[citation needed]

In the early 1980s, Dolenz directed a stage version of Bugsy Malone, the cast of which included then-unknown 14-year-old Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones.[3]

On December 31, 1981 he released the B. A. Robertson song "To Be Or Not To Be" as a Japanese single on Jam Records J-8112B. The flip side was "Beverly Hills", written by Dolenz. Both songs were popular in Japan.

From 1983 to 1984 he was responsible for creating and producing the British children's television show Luna.[4]

On August 31, 2010, Dolenz released his first album in over 15 years via Gigatone Entertainment of Sacramento, California. Titled "King For A Day", the album is a 14-track tribute to legendary songwriter Carole King. Dolenz also appeared in an event called "myRecordFantasy with Micky Dolenz" August 2-4, 2010 giving fans the opportunity to audition and perform on this album. The event was recorded and adapted to a reality series entitled "myRecordFantasy", the trailer of which was released August 31, 2010.

In 2010, Dolenz was cast in the upcoming Syfy movie Mega Python vs. Gatoroid alongside Debbie Gibson and Tiffany.[5]

MTV Re-ignites Monkee Mania

In 1986, a screening of the entire Monkees television series by MTV led to renewed interest in the group, followed by a 20th Anniversary Tour, a greatest hits album and a brand new LP, Pool It! in 1987. The group's original albums were reissued and all hit the record charts at the same time. The group also found chart success with a new recording, "That Was Then, This Is Now" hitting the Top 20 on Billboard in the U.S.

Since 1986, Dolenz has joined the other ex-Monkees for several reunion tours, most recently in 2001, and has performed as a solo performer from time to time. He has continued to direct for television both in the United Kingdom and the United States, and had occasional acting gigs, including roles in the TV series The Equalizer and as the Mayor on the cable TV series Pacific Blue.[citation needed]

In 2009, Micky inked a deal to record an album of the classic songs of Carole King, titled "King For A Day". The album (released on Gigitone Records) was produced by Jeffrey Foskett, who has worked extensively with Brian Wilson and played on Wilson’s 2004 Grammy-winning version of SMiLE. King’s songs "Pleasant Valley Sunday", "Sometime in the Morning", and "The Porpoise Song (Theme From Head)" have emerged as signature songs from The Monkees. As of February 2010, he was appearing on stage in London in 'Hairspray.'

Animation voicings

Dolenz provided voice-overs for a number of Saturday-morning cartoon series including The Funky Phantom, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids, Devlin and Wonder Wheels (from The Skatebirds). Dolenz provided the voice of Arthur in the first season of the animated series The Tick.[6] Dolenz also played one of Alan Matthews' bandmates in the sitcom Boy Meets World, and later joined Davy Jones and Peter Tork in another episode but they did not play themselves.[citation needed] Dolenz provided the voice of Two-Face's twin henchmen in the two-part episode "Two-Face" on Batman: The Animated Series.[7] In a September 2006 radio interview, Dolenz reported that he is the current voice of Snuggle the Fabric Softener Bear.[3]

WCBS-FM

In 2005, Dolenz replaced Dan Taylor as the morning disc jockey at oldies radio station WCBS-FM in New York.[citation needed] On June 3, 2005, Dolenz celebrated his 100th show with a special morning show at B.B. Kings. In an ironic and controversial twist, that was also his last show at the station; at 5:00 PM, WCBS-FM announced that the station would replace its oldies format with a "Jack" format, and fired all of the stations on-air jocks. WCBS-FM has since returned to its oldies format.

Other appearances

In 2005, after the format change at WCBS-FM, Dolenz went on tour with his sister, singer Coco Dolenz. In June 2006, Dolenz played Charlemagne at the Goodspeed Opera House for the revival of the musical Pippin in East Haddam, Connecticut. As of January 2007, he was touring in that role.

He appeared in Rob Zombie's remake of Halloween as Derek Allan, the owner of the gun shop where Dr. Loomis (played by Malcolm McDowell) buys a gun in his search for Michael Myers. On April 25, 2007, Dolenz was featured on American Idol on the "Idol Gives Back" episode when the show filmed celebrities singing and dancing to "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees. Dolenz participated in the 2008–09 season of CMT's "Gone Country," competing against fellow celebrities Sheila E (who eventually won), Taylor Dayne, George Clinton, and Richard Greico. Dolenz will star in the upcoming SyFy horror film Mega Python vs. Gatoroi.[8]

Personal life

Dolenz has been married three times and is the father of four daughters. While in the UK on tour with the group, Dolenz met future wife Samantha Juste, the girl who pretended to put the records on the jukebox on the BBC's "live" pop series, Top of the Pops. They married in 1967 and had a daughter, Ami Dolenz (b. January 8, 1969), an actress particularly active in the 1980s and 1990s Dolenz and Juste divorced in 1975.[citation needed]

He married Trina Dow in 1977. The couple had three daughters: Charlotte Janelle (b. August 8, 1981), Emily Claire (b. July 25, 1983), and Georgia Rose (b. September 3, 1984). They divorced in 1991. Trina has become a couples therapist (still using her married name). Dolenz married his third wife, Donna Quinter, in 2002.

Dolenz answered "no" when asked whether he believed in the existence of a God, adding "God is a verb, not a noun."[9] Dolenz has studied for a Bachelor of Arts degree with the Open University in the UK.[citation needed]

Songs written or co-written by Micky Dolenz

References

External links

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