“Hey, hey, we’re The Monkees. And people say we monkey around.”
If you’ve been anywhere near a television set in the past 50 years, you’ve probably heard the theme song from “The Monkees,” a series that first aired in the 1960s and enjoyed syndication for decades.
This Sunday, July 17, you’ll have the chance to see one of the band’s members perform live in Riverhead, where drummer and vocalist Micky Dolenz will take the stage for a solo show at the Suffolk Theater.
“My solo show is not that different from a Monkees show because I sing 90 percent of the songs and use the same band,” Mr. Dolenz told The Suffolk Times. “A couple of the guys have been with us for decades.”
The Monkees’ first single, “Last Train to Clarksville,” debuted Sept. 10, 1966, and went to No. 1. Two days later, “The Monkees” aired for the first time on NBC, running for two seasons. The band went on to record several more albums, many of which topped the charts.
In the 1970s, three of the band’s members — Mr. Dolenz, Davy Jones and Peter Tork — regrouped, touring sporadically as The Monkees for several decades. Today, the band is experiencing a resurgence as it celebrates the 50th anniversary of its TV show and first hit song. Part of that celebration includes the release of a new album and a concert tour.
What neither the band’s members nor their record company, Rhino Records, expected was the response. On April 14, The Monkees’ first original album in 19 years, “Good Times,” debuted at No. 14 on the Billboard charts.
Mr. Dolenz was understandably thrilled.
“Way, way, way beyond anyone’s expectations,” he said. “We all felt really good about it from the get-go, but you can’t predict those kinds of things, especially after five decades.”
Produced by Adam Schlesinger of the indie band “Fountains of Wayne,” the new Monkees album is a collection of archived songs never performed during the band’s TV days, plus new songs written by some of today’s top singers and songwriters, like former Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher, Zach Rogue of “Rogue Wave” and Ben Gibbard of “Death Cab for Cutie.” Even the late Davy Jones, who died in 2012, appears on the album, singing a never-released song written by Neil Diamond in the late 1960s.
“It was a great vocal and a great song by Neil Diamond,” Mr. Dolenz said. “It was nice to be able to do that; we got lucky.”
Later this year, Mr. Dolenz will rejoin The Monkees’ on tour for shows in Australia, New Zealand and possibly Japan.
At his solo show Sunday, Mr. Dolenz plans to play Monkees hits like “I’m a Believer” and “Daydream Believer,” along with songs by The Beatles and The Spencer Davis Group. He’ll even perform a song by Chuck Berry, since he did so when he auditioned for “The Monkees.”
“I always do the big hits,” Mr. Dolenz said. “I learned a long time ago that you have to fulfill that contract with the audience. Then, once you do that, you can basically do anything you want.”
When Mr. Dolenz surveys his audience from the stage now, he sees not one generation of fans, but a few.
“It’s up to three now,” he said. “It’s not uncommon at all to have three generations in the audience.”
The Suffolk Theater will open for dinner at 6 p.m. Sunday, July 17. Mr. Dolenz will perform at 7:30 p.m. Visit suffolktheater.com.
Photo Caption: Former Monkees musician Micky Dolenz will perform at the Suffolk Theater July 17. (Credit: Courtesy photo)