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Monkees’ Micky played ’91 fair

Published 5:20pm Wednesday, March 7, 2012

My frequent fawning over the Fab Four usually overshadows my fondness for the Monkees, contrived in the Beatles’ image for a frenetic television show mindful of “A Hard Day’s Night,” except the pre-fab four struggled, inspiring garage bands for two memorable NBC seasons.
Hey, Jimi Hendrix opened for the Monkees, not the other way around.
My dad took me to the University of Notre Dame just so I could gawk at the red Monkeemobile. Notre Dame is where I also saw the Monkees minus woolhat Mike Nesmith. Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork, with Gary Puckett (and Morgan Fairchild) and Herman’s Hermits opening, though I didn’t feel like I actually saw the Hermits until Peter Noone played the Dogwood Fine Arts Festival.
Davy’s death Leap Day delivered me back to Dolenz performing in Cassopolis on July 19, 1991, at one of my favorite Cass County Fairs — especially with Tiny Tim in tow and Mike Pinera from Iron Butterfly, not to mention Tanya Tucker. Gifts thrust at her included sweet corn.
Pinera was part of Iron Butterfly, the first group awarded a platinum record, for “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” which filled an entire side of vinyl.
Pinera, wearing a fringed zebra outfit, also wrote, sang and recorded the Blues Image hit “Ride Captain Ride.”
Dolenz whirled through “Last Train to Clarksville,” then locked his gaze on the double Ferris wheel spinning garishly behind the grandstand and began composing his next smash hit on the spot: “Snow cones, cotton candy, Ferris wheels, barf!”
Next came his tribute to all the songwriters named Neil: Diamond (“I’m a Believer”) and Sedaka and Armstrong (“Blue Moon”). No mention of Neil Young, however.
Before he got to “I’m a Believer,” which he dubbed “I’m a Retriever,” Dolenz punched out the Carole King classic, “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” which for my money was one of the best Monkees songs along with “(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone,” which he only played for the nightcap, calling it “punk Monkee.”
Ever the madcap musician, Micky noted he was playing guitar instead of drums because it was his instrument of choice since PMS (“pre-Monkee singing”).
Dolenz revealed “I had my first romantic encounter listening to ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight,’ ” so hearing it every night gave him an unshakable urge to shed his clothes in the back seat of a Chevy.
A highlight was his live version of “Goin’ Down,” filled with scat singing.
“I wonder,” Dolenz wondered, “if 30 years from now I’ll be back here.”
He mimicked an old man singing the Monkees TV theme and boasted he owned “one of the first steam-powered guitars.” He pretended to need help getting up from a guitar windmill.
Dolenz explained that rockers scream mainly when scalded by boilers they lug on tour to fire steam-powered guitars. Logs or groupies are thrown on the fire to stoke the boiler, he said.
Tiny Tim, who married Miss Vickie on “The Tonight Show” on Dec. 17, 1969, waddled around in a red-and-white circus tent suit, his flyaway hair orange.
What would he do besides “Tiptoe Through the Tulips?” A full-tilt medley of singalong songs in a deep rich baritone like Andy Kaufman singing “Mighty Mouse,” of course.
“She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain,” “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” “Home on the Range” and “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”
This fifth annual oldies bill also included Cannibal and the Headhunters (1965, “Land of a Thousand Dances”), Jewel Akens (“Birds and Bees”), Spiral Staircase (“I Love You More Today Than Yesterday”), Al Wilson (“Show and Tell”), Bobby “Boris” Pickett, the “Guy Lombardo of Halloween” with “Monster Mash,” “the granddaddy of all rap songs,” and Jerry Corbetta, who gave us “Green-Eyed Lady” with Sugarloaf in junior high and “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You” in high school.
Corbetta played a keyboard shaped like a guitar.
But I was there to see “Circus Boy.” Carolyn Murray got me his autograph.
The Monkees had surprising staying power 20 years ago and, as Davy’s devastating death showed, remains undimmed.

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