Ex-Monkee follows his muse to stage and writing

TORONTO (Reuters Life!) - Former Monkee Micky Dolenz, who now also writes books, has a dislike of long-term plans so he relies on his muse to tell him what to do.

Handout picture shows former Monkee Micky Dolenz. Dolenz just finished playing Charlemagne in the play "Pippin" in Toronto. He's also had two books published this year -- a children's book titled "Gakky Two-Feet" (Putnam, 2006) and a trivia game book titled "Micky Dolenz' Rock 'n Rollin' Trivia" (Square One Publishers, 2006). REUTERS/Timothy Fielding

“She’s this five-foot-seven blond in a satin nightdress with a nine-millimeter, semi-automatic pistol and she holds it to my head and says: ‘Direct this, write that, do this, do that,’” the former singer and drummer for The Monkees told Reuters in an interview.

“It’s my wife,” he said laughingly. “But she doesn’t really have a semi-automatic.”

It’s been almost 40 years since the popular television show, “The Monkees”, was canceled by NBC in 1968, but its legacy lingers in part due to some hit singles by the four-man band of the same name such as “Last Train to Clarksville” and “I’m a Believer.”

The quartet became a phenomenon and has reunited to perform concerts many times over the years. As yet, there is no plan for a fortieth anniversary bash, said 61-year-old Dolenz.

Dolenz’s muse keeps him busy. He just finished playing Charlemagne in the play “Pippin” in Toronto. He’s also had two books published this year -- a children’s book titled “Gakky Two-Feet” (Putnam, 2006) and a trivia game book titled “Micky Dolenz’ Rock ‘n Rollin’ Trivia” (Square One Publishers, 2006).

Q: What did you do after “The Monkees” was canceled?

A: “When “The Monkees” went off the air, I had already become very interested in the production side of the business. I ended up getting a job at the BBC directing a television drama. Then I went on to do years and years of sitcoms, films, commercials and music videos. It was great. It enabled me to step back from the whole Monkee thing.”

Q: Have you been able to get away from The Monkees?

A: “Well, I have in my own mind, but whether or not other people have ... It’s sort of a very subjective opinion. I don’t dwell on it. It was a long, long time ago. It was a very short period of my life; just a couple of years. It wasn’t until I came back in 1986 for a reunion tour did I realize what kind of an impact it had on the cultural landscape.”

Q: What was life like when you were a Monkee?

A: “It was just a lot of hard work essentially. It was long before the current wave of intrusive paparazzi and maniacal media feeding frenzies so home life was relatively calm. Not only were we filming the television show for 12 to 14 hours a day, but then we’d have to go in the studio and record at night. On the weekends we’d practice and rehearse for touring. There wasn’t a whole lot of party time or spare time. I had a family -- I had a wife and a kid -- my spare time I spent in my shop building things.”

Q: You’ve had offers to be on reality television shows, why haven’t you done one?

A: “I am just not a fan of reality shows. I just can’t go and participate in one when I actually don’t appreciate the genre. I feel it is kind of dishonest. They just haven’t sparked my interest. Who knows why, probably because I grew up in the world of drama and television and scripts and acting and stories and things like that.”

Q: What made you write a children’s book about our ancestors first walking upright?

A: “Basically, a couple of years ago there was a spate of celebrity children’s books coming out and a publisher asked me if I’d be interested. I’ve always been fascinated with those seminal moments in human evolution -- in the case of “Gakky Two-Feet” the first time the hominids started walking on two feet.”

Q: What gave you the idea for a book of rock ‘n’ roll trivia games?

A: “I am a trivia buff, not so much pop and rock ‘n’ roll trivia, but I love history and science trivia. I am really good at that. (Square One Publishers) approached me and said would you like to edit it and I said: “Yeah, absolutely, it sounds like fun.”

Q: What has been the high point of your career so far?

A: “Besides The Monkees, I would say it might be the children’s book. The high point of your career is not necessarily the greatest success of your career.”