Best known for his role as the lead singer of the Monkees, Micky Dolenz is also famed as an actor and director. Dolenz was born in Los Angeles, California to George and Janelle Dolenz, both show business people themselves. By the age of six, Dolenz was already doing screen tests, and by the age of ten, he had landed his first role as Corky on Circus Boy. He toured the country with his elephant "Bimbo" promoting the show, which lasted only three years. During his teenage years, he had seriously begun to develop his musical chops. He was the lead singer in many nightclub bands, including Micky & the One Nighters, who played a lot of Rolling Stones and Jerry Lee Lewis tunes. It was during this period that he recorded his first single, "Huff Puff/Don't Do It," but the record was not released until 1967.
In 1965, he was chosen from 400 applicants to be a member of the Monkees. He was originally hired as the drummer, but eventually became the lead vocalist. Along with Davy Jones, Peter Tork, and Michael Nesmith, Dolenz became a teen idol in the mid-'60s and sold more than 60 million records. The Monkees released a movie and two more albums after their television show ended in 1968. By 1970, it was Dolenz and Davy Jones who were touring and performing concerts to promote the group.
Dolenz used his fame as a Monkee to further his directing career; he had directed one of the Monkees episodes and several television commercials. He directed several spots for NASA explaining the benefits medicine has received from the space program. The spots featured such famous people as Charlton Heston, Jesse Jackson, Frank Sinatra, Whoopi Goldberg, and Willie Nelson.
With his distinctive voice, Dolenz pursued a career doing voices for cartoons, appearing on such Hanna-Barbera shows as The Funky Fantom and the Scooby-Doo movies. During this time he also worked on a solo music career, producing such hit singles as "A Lover's Prayer" and "To Be or Not to Be." In 1975, Dolenz teamed up with songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart and ex-MonkeeDavy Jones to produce an album and perform on tour. He began touring alone and promoting his solo career singing Monkees tunes and his own singles.
In 1978, he moved to the U.K. to further pursue his acting and directing careers. He starred in the musical The Point and made his directing debut with Story Without a Hero. He stayed in the U.K. for many years, directing such programs as Fernwood Tonight, with Martin Mull, and Luna, a story about a girl living in the future.
With the Monkees' 20th anniversary approaching, Dolenz, Jones, and Tork began touring in 1986. Because of the success of the tour, they recorded an album, released two videos, and toured for another year. When Dolenz returned to the United States, he also returned to his own solo career, resuming touring on his own. He produced several children's albums, including Micky Dolenz Puts You to Sleep, a collection of '60s music produced as lullabies, and Broadway Micky, a collection of Broadway show tunes. His book I'm a Believer: My Life of Music, Madness and the Monkees recounts his life as a Monkee, as a director, and as a solo performer. He toured again with Peter and Davy for the 30th anniversary of the Monkees, which lasted until 1997. In 1998, he returned to his directing career and the other side of the camera.
During the first years of the new millennium, Dolenz had cameos in As the World Turns and The Drew Carey Show, along with doing voice work for The Powerpuff Girls, which led to a number of voice gigs. In 2005, he joined WCBS-FM as their morning DJ, spending a year there and then turning toward the road and stage in 2006, touring with a revival of Pippin in 2007. Dolenz returned to recording in 2010, releasing the Carole King tribute King for a Day — his first album in 15 years — in August. Two years later, his audio scrapbook of cover songs, Remember, was issued, featuring tunes from the Beatles, Harry Nilsson, Chuck Berry, and the Monkees.
In 2012, Dolenz released the nostalgic Remember, which saw him revisiting some favorite songs, including a few Monkees tunes. In 2015, the archival project The MGM Singles Collection, which gathered up all ten solo singles he released between 1971 and 1974 on the MGM, Lion, and Romar labels, was released by +180 Records. That same year Dolenz released A Little Bit Broadway, a Little Bit Rock & Roll, a live set recorded at N.Y.C.'s small 54 Below nightclub and featuring Monkees favorites, Broadway tunes, and a few covers of vintage pop songs.
During the 2010s, Dolenz toured pretty steadily with the Monkees, performing with Peter and Davy during 2011's 45th anniversary shows, then after Jones' death in 2012 hitting the road with Peter and Mike. During the next few years, some form of the Monkees could be found on-stage, always with Dolenz at the center. In 2016, with the help of producer Adam Schlesinger, the Monkees recorded and released Good Times!, their first album since Justus. With tracks that were both newly written and dating back to their mid-'60s heyday, and featuring a lineup of songwriters stretching from Carole King to Rivers Cuomo, the album came out in time for the band's 50th anniversary. Dolenz returned to his solo career in 2017 with Out of Nowhere, an album of old Monkees hits recorded with the 30-piece American Metropole Orchestra. ~ Kim Summers & Al Campbell