Were the Monkees Commies? Micky Dolenz Wants the FBI to Spill

At the height of their success in the late 1960s, bubblegum pop band The Monkees were one of the most successful acts in America. But were they hiding a sinister secret? The last surviving member of the band, Mickey Dolenz, now 77, wants the FBI to reveal secret files suggesting that the band were suspected of being Communist sympathisers.

During the Vietnam war, it wasn’t difficult to get in the FBI’s bad books – you just had to have long hair, wear a Peace symbol or support draft dodging. John Lennon was famously the subject of FBI phone taps. But a heavily redacted FBI file released in 2011 also included reports of “anti-US messages on the war in Vietnam” during a 1967 Monkees concert.

“We know the mid-to-late 1960s saw the FBI surveil Hollywood anti-war advocates, and The Monkees were in the thick of things,” Mr Dolenz’s lawyer Mark Zaid told the BBC. “This lawsuit seeks to expose why the FBI was monitoring The Monkees and its individual members.”

Pre-Fab Four

Manufactured as America’s response to the Beatles, the Monkees – Americans Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork alongside English actor/singer Davy Jones – were stars of a popular TV series, but also had hits including I’m a Believer and Last Train to Clarksville, selling over 75 million records. They had four No. 1 albums in 1967, a record which is still unbeaten, but broke up in 1970 after falling out with their management and making a disastrous psychedelic movie, Head, in 1968.

Over the succeding years the members of the Monkees continued to record separately and occasionally as a band; a 45th anniversary tour was the last with Davy Jones, who died of a heart attack at age 66 on February 29, 2012. Peter Tork died of cancer on February 21, 2019, and Mike Nesmith died of heart failure on December 10, 2021, less than a month after the final date of a 2021 tour.

In early 2022 Dolenz embarked on a special series of American concert dates called Micky Dolenz Celebrates the Monkees.


The essential contradiction of The Monkees was that having been hired as actors playing musicians, the foursome (some of whom were musically capable) wanted to be taken seriously as musicians. Music media hostility, personal frictions and conflict with management dogged them throughout their career. But it’s not clear what it was about the band, whose bubblegum pop was hardly controversial, that attracted the attention of the FBI.

A seven-page FBI memo first reported by Rolling Stone is heavily redacted, though one section refers to an unnamed FBI source who attended a 1967 concert says “subliminal messages” were depicted on screen “which constituted left wing innovations of a political nature”.

Now Micky Dolenz, the last surviving member of The Monkees, has brought a lawsuit against the FBI saying that he has “exhausted all necessary required administrative remedies” to access the files, after submitting a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in June. The government has 20 business days to respond to FOIA requests, except for “unusual circumstances”, but according to the lawsuit, Dolenz has received only received acknowledgments of his requests.

According to Dolenz’ lawsuit, the FBI “maintains responsive records regarding the Monkees, including information that continues to be withheld.”

See also: Mystery Death of Rising Star Charlbi Dean

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