Monday, January 25, 2010

Been There, Done That – The Monkees

In 1966 on a Monday night you would have found me glued to the color television set in my parents’ living room. No one—and I mean NO one—was allowed to make a sound for the half-hour that Mike, Mickey, Davy, and Peter were on the screen, because that was my sacred time to watch and listen to my favorite band, The Monkees.

Back in the day before iTunes, CDs or even VHS, I would sit close to the screen, trying to memorize every move as my reel-to-reel tape recorder saved every word and note that came through the speaker. Once the show was over, I would take my recorder into my bedroom to listen again to the show I had just seen.

Back in those days, Peter Tork was my favorite Monkee, followed closely by Mike Nesmith. Like most girls, I liked Davy with his darling British accent—but that was the problem—most girls already liked Davy. There was too much competition, or confusion, or craziness associated with the mere mention of his name. And speaking of craziness-Mickey was just a little too crazy for me.

Yes, I was hooked on The Monkees. Posters were plastered across my bedroom wall, hours were spent listening to the albums over and over again, Tiger Beat was read religiously, and gossip sessions with my friends all revolved around which guy was really cuter.

In 1966, I would never have imagined I’d have the chance to actually meet any of The Monkees, but in 1986 I got my chance. The place: Las Vegas, but that’s not where this story begins.

Just north of Salt Lake City, there’s an amusement park once made famous in a Beach Boys song, “We'll be coming soon; There's a park near the city, yeah; All the kids dig the Lagoon now.” Although it doesn’t seem like the park continues to have big-name performers there anymore, for some reason they were hosting The Monkees there that year, and a bunch of my Osmond-fan friends all ended up going.

Of course, being the type of fans we were, we had a great time—singing along, snapping photos, and trying to meet guys after the show. (Mike was no longer touring with the band by this time, but seeing three out of four ain’t bad!)

To our disappointment, my friend Jess and I were not successful at tracking down any of The Monkees for autographs after the show, but not to be stopped we came up with the brilliant idea, “Hey, they are performing next weekend in Las Vegas. Let’s go!”

Why not? We were single and had money back then, and a trip to Vegas was just a short drive in the car compared to some of the places we had been on our Osmond treks. But we knew if things worked out and we’d actually get the chance to meet The Monkees, we wanted to have something great—something special for them to sign.

I was thrilled when I got my pictures back from Worldwide Photos and saw the great solo shots I had of each one of the guys. I immediately ordered 9x12 prints to take on my trip to Vegas, just in case.

And that move paid off. Years of experience had taught the group of us about locating the most likely spots for celebrities to arrive at a variety of hotels all over Vegas; we knew where to stand; what to have with us; and how to talk to them to get an autograph, even if we didn’t get to pose for a picture.

And this time, we were in luck. I think Mickey must have been the first one off the bus when they arrived at the hotel, and I rushed right up to him, managing to get a scrawled autograph on my previous picture without too much of a fuss.

Davy was next, and he was so gracious. “Wow! Where did you get this picture?” he asked and he wrote David Jones across the top.

“I took it last week in Utah,” I told him.

He gave me a double-take and said, “How did you get it so fast?”

I just smiled and thanked him. Sometimes it pays to be a regular customer in a business establishment with big bucks to spend.

Now I only had Peter to track down and my autograph collection would be complete. But where was he, anyway? Somehow, during the minutes I spent with Davy, Peter had slipped from the bus and headed toward the outdoor pool and his room somewhere beyond. Once I spotted him, I was on my way.

“Peter! Peter,” I called. He lowered his head and seemed even more determined to get away, but I kept following. When I caught up with him a few seconds later, I said, “Peter can you sign my photo for me?”

He glanced over his shoulder before suddenly slowing down. We had left the entourage behind, and he seemed to relax a little. “Okay,” he said, “but we have to hurry.”

“Okay,” I said, understanding that he didn’t want to get stopped by the rest of the soon-to-follow-us crowd.

He signed his name and handed the photo back to me before giving me a smile and saying, “Enjoy the show.”

“I will,” I assured him. “I will.”

And I certainly did. After all, I had met The Monkees, and twenty-years of Daydream Believing had just come true.


L.T. Elliot said...

Those are pretty cool pictures! You have the wildest stories. How cool!

Annette Lyon said...

I love your stories. And today I learned something new--I never clued in that it's Utah's LAGOON in that Beach Boy's song. Cool!

Cheri Chesley said...

That's really cool. I prefer my Monkees in the same order you do--I went for the quieter, softer spoken ones myself, and Davy was just too well-liked. I had a brother like that, but Davy always seemed far more gracious about it. Great story!