Monkee-ing around with the Beatles: Micky Dolenz and friends rock ‘White Album’ tribute coming to Golden Nugget Atlantic City
So why let a little thing like math get in the way of a rock ’n’ roll celebration?
Even though The Beatles’ venerated White Album was released in 1968, a 50th anniversary tour toplined by The Monkees’ Micky Dolenz, Todd Rundgren and ‘80s singer-songwriter Christopher Cross is scheduled to launch Saturday night at Golden Nugget Atlantic City. But why quibble? Based on the talent roster and repertoire, a splendid time seems guaranteed for all.
Although it certainly would be interesting to hear a live version of “Revolution 9,” the entire double album will not be recreated Saturday by the trio of chart-toppers as well as Joey Molland of the Fab Four-championed Badfinger (the first act signed to The Beatles’ ill-fated Apple label) and Jason Scheff of Chicago. That, at least, is the word from Dolenz.
During an early-August phone call to his Southern California home, the 74-year-old Dolenz noted that, at that point, the final set list had not yet been determined. But, he said, “I know, for instance, I'm doing ‘Back In the U.S.S.R.,’ and I'm doing ‘Rocky Raccoon’ and I'm doing ‘Yer Blues.’ Each of us are going to do like four or five [songs from the album], and then a couple of our own. I'll be doing, ‘I'm A Believer’ and ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday.’
“It'll be a bit of a variety show, but the vast majority of it will be the White Album.”
Dolenz, of course, carved out his little corner of show biz immortality in the late 1960s as the drummer/vocalist for The Monkees, the so-called “Pre-Fab Four” that was created specifically for the NBC-TV sitcom of the same name that was inspired by The Beatles’ groundbreaking 1964 film, A Hard Day’s Night. But don’t expect him to play the Ringo Starr role on the tour.
“I thought about it,” he said, “but I play drums kind of backwards. I play left-handed and right-footed, which means I cannot sit down at a normal kit and play. It's impossible for me to do that, which means there has to be two sets of drums onstage.
“I have done that before on Monkees tours, where there have been two sets of drums. But I don't play the whole show, so a lot of the time [the kit is] just sitting up there empty.
Besides, he continued, “I love to sit up there playing the drums, but when you're also the lead singer, it can be a little bit too boring for an audience.”
Then there is the challenge he described to sing and play drums at the same time.
“It's like rubbing your stomach and patting your head,” he offered. “When you play the drums, you’re the clock in the band, but when you're the lead singer, you're floating all over the place. I have always found that to be a challenge, to keep the beat and also sing lead. So, I won't be playing drums. But I will be playing some rhythm guitar.”
Dolenz added that as far as he’s concerned, when it comes to rock drummers, no one supersedes Starr.
“Ringo was the greatest,” he insisted. “I mean, my God, he almost defined rock drumming in the ‘60s.”
Dolenz’s prime may be in the rearview mirror, but he is still a road warrior who performs regularly--most recently with fellow surviving Monkee Michael Nesmith—because, as he put it, “It’s harder to hit a moving target.” Nonetheless, he admitted, touring is not something he particularly relishes.
“The show part of it is always fun,” he explained. “I always have fun singing those incredible [Monkees’] hits. I liken it to somebody throwing you a birthday party every night. It's hard not to enjoy that part of it.
“But I’ve never liked the traveling part of it, and I dislike it more every day. We have a saying that they pay us to travel, we sing for free. That's me in a nutshell.
“I don’t travel well. I'm not crazy about getting in my car and driving down to the car wash. I'm like a fine wine. I’m happiest lying on my side in the dark.”
Golden Nugget, Huron Avenue at Brigantine Boulevard, Atlantic City; 9 p.m. Sept. 21; $55. For tickets, click here.
Wind Creek Bethlehem, 77 Wind Creek Blvd.,Bethlehem, Pa.;7:30 p.m. Oct. 19; $45. For tickets, click here.