From one generation to another: idol advice on teen pop sensations

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Date: Feb 25, 2001
Source: The Seattle Times
Submitted By: Gina

By Nicole Brodeur Seattle Times staff columnist

David Cassidy won't be calling me back. This is a new career low.

His publicist assures me it's nothing personal. Cassidy is on a flight to London, where he will sign a "worldwide record deal."

"I'm sorry," she says. "Maybe next time."

Next time? As if David Cassidy is on hot-demand speed dial. The "next time" may be when I'm writing his obit, mourning not so much shag-a-licious Keith Partridge but the 10-year-old me who bought his records.

I had called hoping he could tell me how it was for him back then and what tonight might be like for me: I'm taking my kid to see the Backstreet Boys.

No doubt I'll feel every minute of my 39 years, rocked by teen idolatry at the Tacoma Dome, nothing to save me but my earplugs.

But what about the Boys? Aside from the ballads and bonsai-esque facial hair, what's it like on stage for A.J., Nick, Howie D., Brian and Kevin?

"Have you tried Bobby Sherman?" a colleague suggests after the Cassidy snub.

I did. He's not even registered with the Screen Actors Guild. Nor is Davy Jones.

But then ...


Micky Dolenz answers his own phone. I'm conversing with a Monkee.

"I still perform for screaming girls," he says. Indeed, he, Jones and Peter Tork begin rehearsals tomorrow for a Monkees Reunion Tour that opens Thursday in Florida.

"The toughest thing is to keep a distinction between the person you really are," he said, "and the person you were perceived to be."

Micky was the funny Monkee. The drummer Monkee, the Monkee who dressed in drag, the one who really could sing. But not the one you wanted to kiss.

"The funny one, the tall one, the short one, the sexy one ... whatever," Dolenz says. "You start believing your own publicity and that the world revolves around you. And that leads to all kinds of psychological, philosophical and spiritual problems."

Problems compounded by adoration, money and by the insular world in which Monkees - and now the Backstreet Boys - live.

"Thousands and thousands of little girls, screaming," Dolenz says.

He was 20, suddenly famous, on tour, on posters and on the cover of Tiger Beat.

"It's like you're in the middle of a huge natural event," he says. "It is much larger than you are."

Only on stage did it make any sense. He would pick up his drumsticks and shut off the hype.

"You're working, you're doing the job," he said. "You don't even hear the screams. All you hear is the music. And if you have a great lighting system, you don't see them, either.

"You know they're out there, but you're not necessarily aware of them."

He knows now they weren't just screaming for the Monkees. Girls screamed for Sinatra and the Beatles, too.

"It's so loud, so passionate, " he says, "because these guys represent the dream, the passion of sex and music and love. ... We're all a manifestation of that. We're their dream boy."

Waking up, for Dolenz, was hard to do. "Things run their course," he says.

He lived in England for a while, got married and had four kids. He directs independent features and some television, and works with a charity called Kids Helping Kids.

He keeps up with Jones and Tork, obviously, but it's been a long time since he spoke to Mike Nesmith, who does production work in New Mexico.

His Monkee status is no longer his day job, "But I still dip in and out whenever it is convenient."

Thanks to the "The Monkees" syndication on Nickelodeon, concert audiences span three generations. "The girls throwing panties and the women throwing Depends," Dolenz says.

It may be that way for the Backstreet Boys someday. So we should all scream a little more gently this weekend. For their sakes - and for mine.

Any last advice from a former teen idol?

"Get a good lawyer," he says.

Hey, I'm a believer.

Nicole Brodeur can be reached at 206-464-2334 or at She liked them all.

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