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Hey, hey... it's the Monkees in Clearwater


Published:   |   Updated: July 25, 2013 at 08:06 AM

Surprise was a word, which emanated from Mickey Dolenz' mouth when he spoke of The Monkees. The charismatic Monkees vocalist-drummer was taken aback when Monkees vocalist Davy Jones passed away in February of 2012.

It was a big surprise," Dolenz said ."We talked about doing another Monkees tour."Well, just a few months later, Dolenz, 67, guitarist Peter Tork, 70, hit the road as members of The Monkees. The shocker is that the band reunited with reclusive guitarist Mike Nesmith.

"Talk about a surprise," Dolenz said. "Who saw that coming?"

Most Monkees fans were taken aback as the band toured once more as a trio. The band's performance in suburban Philadelphia eight months ago combined yesterday and today.

The group played in front of videos from the Monkee's hey day. Clips of the bands inspired television show and bits of the group's trippy movie 'Head' were screened while the act played favorites from yesteryear.

The highlights were Nesmith tunes. The quirky country-esque numbers, "You Told Me" and "Sweet Young Thing" and "What Am I Doing Hangin' Round" were dusted off and greeted with justifiable enthusiasm. The show peaked with the latter, which featured Nesmith, 70, on vocals and 12-string guitar, Dolenz terrific harmonies and Tork capably strumming his banjo.

"I don't think we ever got enough credit for being able to play well," Dolenz said. "We've always been a good band."

The Monkees are arguably the best boy band ever. Sure, the Monkees had some of the finest writers (Neil Diamond, Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart, Carole King, Gerry Goffin) at their disposal but the members of the act developed into solid songsmiths. That's particularly so for Nesmith, who penned a number of terrific tunes.

"That was the natural progression for us," Dolenz said. "We really enjoyed writing songs. We had the ability to do it, so why not go for it?"

Expect the hits and some off-the-wall Monkees cuts as well when the band performs Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall.

The Monkees were commercial monsters back in the day. Few recall that the Monkees actually sold more albums than the Beatles or Rolling Stones in 1967.

"We were incredibly popular," Dolenz said. "I remember it like it was yesterday. But that period ended so quickly."

Prior to last year, Mike Nesmith played his last U.S. date as a Monkee in 1969. "But sometimes you have the chance to get back together," Dolenz said. "It's unfortunate that it's without Davy but we're moving forward. The fans still love the songs and we still love to play them. We're very fortunate to have an opportunity like this."

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