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Micky Dolenz: The music that changed my life

This list points back to the young adult we watched on our TV screens so many years ago.

Depending on your age or generation, Micky Dolenz could be “Corky the Circus Boy,” but for most of us, Dolenz is the well-known, multitalented rock star/performer from “The Monkees” television show and more than 10 Monkees studio albums. The years have been kind to Micky. His latest endeavor, “King For a Day” — an album’s worth of recordings written by Carole King — shows us that his vocals are stronger than ever, and he might just have a new career as a crooner. This list points back to the young adult we watched on our TV screens so many years ago.

Stan Freberg:
History of the United States

I don’t remember how I even got ahold of this, but I think it was because my father had The Marquee restaurant in Los Angeles, and it was a very famous hangout for a lot of celebrities in the ’50s and early ’60s. I remember that Stan Freberg used to patronize. I remember that my dad would bring home stuff that Stan Freberg had done. The album is a very funny musical about the history of the United States, with songs produced somewhat like a Broadway musical. The music is all very satirical. In my case, Stan’s comedy certainly had an influence on my comedic senses. In fact, Stan went onto do an episode of The Monkees. (In “Monkee vs. Machine” — Sept. 26, 1966, Freberg portrays an efficiency expert at a computerized toy factory.)

Bill Cosby: Why Is There Air?
I don’t recall buying this album. I don’t know where it came from. I was a huge Bill Cosby fan. That album had an enormous influence on me. When I first met Mike Nesmith, before we had even done the series, it was very early on — we had either done the pilot or were getting ready to do the pilot — I remember that Mike and I were hanging out at my place, an apartment that I was renting at the time. I started playing him this Bill Cosby album, amongst others. I recall so vividly both of us rolling on the floor to the Bill Cosby album. If you watch old episodes of “The Monkees,” you’ll definitely see a little bit of Bill Cosby sneaking in once and a while between Mike and I more than anyone else.

Oklahoma: Original Broadway Cast
& West Side Story: Original Broadway Cast

My father was the one who got me playing classical Spanish guitar, and then I went into folk music from that. There again, that would have been an album that my mom or dad had around the house and played for my sister Coco and I. At one point, Coco and I memorized the entire score to both of these albums. They had a big influence on me at the time. I probably didn’t realize it at the time, but I certainly did in the future. If you think about it, “The Monkees” show was sort of a half-hour Marx Brothers musical ... They were half-hour musical theater. Of course, later in life, I started doing musicals, and I realized how much I loved doing musicals and how much they influenced me.

Johnny Mathis: Any early Johnny Mathis album
If you listen to the new Carole King album, “King For a Day,” I’m sure you’ll hear a little bit of Johnny Mathis in there (with my style of singing). Just as I was old enough to listen to Top 40 radio, I was really influenced by Johnny, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Fats Domino. I don’t remember any particular album, but I do remember listening to “Misty” a lot.

One of Micky's personal photos of him and Paul McCartney

One of Micky's personal photos of him and Paul McCartney

The Beatles: Every Beatles album
If I chose one, it would be “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” There’s a picture of me holding the album out a window in 1967 while The Monkees were on tour in Europe. There was this made-up Monkees/Beatles controversy. We found that hilarious, because there was no one in the world who was bigger fans than we were. The Monkees’ fans were the younger brothers and sisters of The Beatles fans; it was almost like the next generation. I remember some kids outside the hotel were yelling, “Monkees! Monkees! Monkees!” and there were other kids yelling “Beatles! Beatles! Beatles!” And so we held out the “Sgt. Pepper’s” album, and it made the press. It was like, “Surprise! The Monkees like The Beatles!” I remember very clearly when “Sgt. Pepper’s” came out we were filming the TV series. We were on location somewhere, and “Sgt. Pepper’s” was out and someone ran down to the music store and got a very, very early copy, brought it back to the set, and we stopped production on the set to listen to the album. I met Paul McCartney at his house on a press junket, then he invited me down to Abbey Road Studios and they were recording “Good Morning, Good Morning.” When I wrote and directed the last episode of “The Monkees,” I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to have this little automatic alarm clock record player with the needle dropping and having ‘Good Morning, Good Morning’?” I don’t know who called whom, but someone way up in The Beatles hierarchy must have given their approval, and it’s on that episode. To my knowledge that’s the first, and one of the only, times that The Beatles allowed one of their songs — certainly back then — to be used on a television show in that manner. (“The Frodis Caper” a.k.a. “Mijacogeo” aired March 25, 1968, where The Monkees match wits with the insane Wizard Glick, who wants to control TV viewers’ minds. “Mijacogeo” is an anagram of the names in Micky’s family: Micky, Janelle (mother), Coco (sister), and George (father).]”