Magazine article The New Yorker

Hey, Hey

Magazine article The New Yorker

Hey, Hey

Article excerpt

HEY, HEY

--John Seabrook

It was eleven on a recent Sunday morning, a few minutes before the Michael Nesmith photo op and signing, and Nez, as he's known to friends, was in a suite at the Meadowlands Hilton, steeling himself. In the forty years since the demise of the Monkees--the made-for-TV band that, in spite of its ersatz origins, managed to record a handful of pop classics and shaped the future of the music video--Nez has avoided fan gatherings.

"Never. Never. Never," he said, in a slight Texas drawl. "Anytime anyone has suggested it, I've always said no, because I smelled trade show." Even as a Monkee, he didn't seem keen on being a Monkee; his sly put-downs of the enterprise were what made the show at least sort of cool. The other three Monkees--Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, and Davy Jones--soldiered on through the decades after the show ended, surviving divorce, substance abuse, and sobriety together, and touring right up until Davy's death, two years ago. Nez never needed Monkee money; his mother, Bette Nesmith Graham, was a Dallas secretary who invented Liquid Paper and left her only son more than twenty-five million dollars when she died, in 1980. But finally Nez received an offer he couldn't refuse: the promoters of the 2014 Monkees Convention would pay Nesmith and his band a mint to perform--and so here he was, the star attraction. The writer Eric Lefcowitz, a Monkees historian who also attended the event, noted, "It's like Zeppo showing up at a Marx Brothers convention thirty years after 'Duck Soup.'"

Guarded by a small security detail, Nez ventured downstairs to the signing room. (Speaking of the muscle, he noted that he was less likely to get torn apart by the Monkee faithful than to be "killed by a million goldfish kisses.") Micky Dolenz, the Monkees' drummer and lead singer, was waiting for him downstairs, wearing a cowboy hat. Dolenz, in addition to acting and doing voice-overs, has found time to raise four daughters, and they were all present at the Hilton to perform with their dad.

"Nice set last night," Dolenz said, complimenting Nez on the show he and his band had played in the hotel's ballroom. Nez nodded and touched Dolenz's shoulder. They found their marks, and the photo-taking began.

A middle-aged guy with the Monkees logo tattooed on his forearm came in and draped it around Nez for a photo. …

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