Stepping Out

Micky Dolenz headlines The Fest for Beatles Fans

The Monkees’ drummer shares his experience with the Fab Four


The Fest for Beatles Fans — the largest and longest-running immersive experience for fans of the Fab Four —celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

Beatles devotees surely will want to get in on the action, next weekend, Feb. 9-11. It involves an all-star lineup of musical guests, an auction of rare memorabilia, fan meet and greets, a giant Beatles marketplace, Beatles museum, an art gallery dedicated to the Fab Four, plus even more.

And since this year also marks the 60th anniversary of The Beatles’ arrival at JFK International Airport, it all happens at the famed TWA Hotel at JFK.

Headlining this year’s event is none other than drummer-singer Micky Dolenz of The Monkees, along with Laurence Juber and Steve Holley of Wings, Billy J. Kramer, Greg Bissonnette, Mark Rivera, and others.

The Monkees — unlike the Fab Four themselves — were not actually a band at all. They came about through the magic of television to appear like they were a group trying to be like The Beatles, but who could never quite achieve the same level of success.

“We used to have a poster of The Beatles on the set and we would throw darts at it,” Dolenz says. “We were never famous on the show. It was about the struggle for success and trying to get a record deal, which we never did on the TV show.”

Ironically, the success of the NBC sitcom would launch the “imaginary band” to new heights. The Monkees would go on to achieve success they never thought attainable. Their albums climbed to the top of the Billboard charts, and soon they were selling out shows all across the country.

Several of their songs, including the “(Theme From) The Monkees,” was actually written, produced and performed by songwriting duo Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart; later re-recorded to feature the actors’ voices.

Dolenz says that during the auditions, producers required that the actors were able to play an instrument and sing.

“The producers must have had in mind that we were going to play live,” he recalls. “Mike Nesmith said it was like Pinocchio becoming a real little boy.”

He compared the experience to the Fox musical series “Glee,” in the sense that all four members of the group were able to sing and act, practiced and learned the music in order to perform on tour.

During the height of his show’s popularity in 1966, Dolenz was invited to sit in on a session at Abbey Road Studios. He said that, at the time, The Beatles were in the middle of tracking their song, “Good Morning, Good Morning,” for their eighth studio album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Interestingly, John Lennon said that the inspiration for the tune came to him from a Kellogg’s Corn Flakes commercial. Coincidentally, back in the United States, Dolenz and The Monkees were featured in several commercials for the breakfast cereal during their peak.

In the years that followed, he would have many more interactions with John, Paul, George and Ringo.

“I’ve always been a huge Beatles fan,” Dolenz says.

“They were great. They got what The Monkees were all about.”

He also recalls how Lennon once compared The Monkees to the Marx Brothers, because of their plucky comedic antics.

Throughout the years, Dolenz has mixed in a blend of Beatles covers into his repertoire, including “Good Morning, Good Morning,” and “A Day in the Life.”

His participation in The Fest goes back to 2014, when he joined Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits on stage for a performance of “Henry VIII.”

According to Dolenz, he’s most excited to share the stage with talented musicians like Laurence Juber, and just “being there” to spend time with fans and have a good time.

“Its like comic-con,” Dolenz says. “I’m looking forward to going back there and hanging out in New York.”