My Favorite Monkees Memories With Kelly Suellentrop
Do you have a special Monkees memory or two (thousand!) that you want to share? I want to hear from you. Email me at [email protected] for future consideration on Monkees.net. Please be as detailed as possible in explaining your favorite Monkees memories. If your story is accepted, you must be able to provide a couple photos from your collection and/or another with you and the guys.
Let me know!
by M.A. Cassata
(With reporting by Joanne Grana)
All photos: Kelly Suellentrop
“I love The Monkees’ music and their slapstick, but still intelligent, comedy,” says huge Monkees fan, and children’s author, Kelly Suellentrop. (kellysuellentrop.com). “Something about what The Monkees generate together as a unit, it energizes my appreciation and interest in a way no other entertainers ever have.”
In this “My Favorite Monkees Memories” Kelly shares with us some of her most cherished Monkees memories over the decades including live performances, collecting memorabilia, favorite songs and most importantly, meeting all four of the guys.
Why are you a big Monkees fan? Please elaborate.
When something resonates that deeply with you, it can be hard to pinpoint the exact cause – because the connections are likely firing on many levels. I think part of that stems from the fact that the guys themselves clearly have a mutual respect for their fans. I like that.
What is your favorite Monkees period and why?
It’s a toss-up. Obviously, I love me some 60’s Monkees. It’s the period we hold as the gold standard, by which we judge all other Monkee pursuits – 1967 being the peak. But I have to say; I’m really loving being a Monkees fan right now. I sometimes bemoan the fact that I am too young to have experienced the unrivaled Monkeemania of the 1960’s. But since 2011, I honestly believe I am witnessing them at their best. Sure, 50 years ago there was a beauty that came with youth, an electricity that surged through lunch boxes and trading cards, and a yearning that was only quelled on Monday evenings in front of the television. But to me, it seems those are the only things I missed out on. I may be wrong, but I just can’t imagine that those young, overworked guys – still trying to find their own sound, still trying to master their craft, still trying to find time for music between episode filming, still becoming a band – could hold a candle to the actualized, polished, master musicians who have stood before me in concert these past few years…and who just released a charting 50th anniversary album of NEW material.
So, now is sort of like your Monkeemania?
I wonder if those boys of the 1960’s could have understood, amidst all the commotion and promotion, the reflective vehicles of wonder and transcendence they become for the fans who love them and their craft, and who each see something different in the faces of their idols. Because the men they are now understand that well. There seems to be a certain symbiosis between The Monkees and their fans at present that wasn’t there before. And it is undeniable, watching them on stage and listening to the new album, they know the music and the experience is about more than them. Yes, I love that this is my Monkeemania!
How many times have you seen the Monkees in concert?
I think eight so far, plus I have tickets to see them in October and November of this year. I’ve also seen Davy, Peter, and Nez solo, and I saw Micky in a “Happy Together” tour. I also saw Davy perform as Fagan in a production of Oliver!
What are some your best Monkees concert memories and why?
I have two. The first was seeing them in Columbus, OH in 2011, which was Davy’s last tour. I was so excited because the tour seemed to come out of nowhere, and I thought I had seen them live for the last time in 2001. So I traveled from my home in St. Louis to Columbus, convinced (again) this would be my final opportunity to see a Monkees concert. (It turned out to be my last chance to see Davy, but I did see the others in concert five more times…and counting). I ended up getting front row seats, and the show was electric! I was running on pure, unbridled joy.
Were you lucky enough to do a meet and greet after the show?
Yes, I did a meet and greet after the show. I was having great experiences with Davy and Peter and finally meeting #1 on my bucket list, Micky! I also ended up meeting a woman named Natalie that night who would become a dear friend and partner in concert crimes to come.
And the second?
The second best concert moment was probably the 2012 tour when Nez rejoined Micky and Peter. Natalie and I, along with our friends Shannon and Brian, went to see them in Chicago. The anticipation of being in the same room as Mike Nesmith, who was the only Monkee I had never had the privilege of sharing air with, was palpable. And to see him with the other two…well, I don’t need to describe to any Monkee fan what a big deal that is. The way the music sounded, the way the show felt with this configuration of the group, it satisfied me in a different way than the previous shows.
There was a certain rawness, an undercurrent of the garage band I fell in love with on vinyl so long ago. I distinctly recall holding back a few tears from being overwhelmed when I heard Nez play the opening guitar lick to “Mary, Mary” as Micky pounded out one of my all-time favorite drum beats. I was so happy to witness this – this thing that was my childhood infatuation and my adult appreciation all rolled into one. And at one point I heard an internal whisper that said, “Remember this.” It was one of those unexpected moments of poignancy and clarity, realizing what a special thing I was witnessing. Maybe it was because I was once again seeing something I never thought I would; maybe it was because Davy’s sudden passing made me never want to take any of it for granted ever again.
What are some of your favorite Monkee memorabilia and why do these pieces hold such special meaning?
My signed tour shirt from the 45th Anniversary concert is special not only because it has 3 of the 4 Monkees’ signatures, but it holds wonderful memories of a very, very fun night. I also love my Monkeemobile model car because it was made for me by my brother-in-law. I know he spent a lot of time making it perfect, and it symbolizes to me how amazing my family and friends are.
Do your family and friends sometimes give you grief for being such a big Monkees fan?
Yes…They sometimes give me trouble about being such a big Monkees fan, but they are also always the first indulge me in my fandom (my husband being the best at this), or to text me if they hear “I’m a Believer” in a grocery store or something like that. It’s cute. Lastly, I have this little Circus Boy picture book from the 1950’s that I had Micky sign. It’s in a special place in my office. See, I’m a writer. When I got that little book, it served as a bit of inspiration to finally get my own children’s book published. It symbolized my two loves colliding…like it was saying, “Kelly, your dream of meeting The Monkees came true. Now go make good on your dream of becoming an author.” Super corny, but I published my children’s book, so it worked!
Photo: Kelly Suellentrop
Now that you met all four guys, what particular memories stand out the most for you? Let’s start with Peter. When did you first meet him?
I once met Peter at a local record store here in St. Louis, called Vintage Vinyl, and he asked me if I was coming to his Shoe Suede Blues show the following night. I hadn’t known about the show ahead of time, but of course, I told him I’d be there. Then I looked at my husband and said, “We gotta get tickets to that show! I just told Peter Tork I was going!”
Okay, now Nez.
Nez politely held off eating his Chipotle burrito, which had just been delivered to him after a show, until he had chatted with me for a bit. Now, that’s a class act. I also had the out-of-nowhere audacity to go up and hug him with all the familiarity I would an old college buddy, and he kindly let me – he even reciprocated. But my favorite stories deal with Davy and Micky.
I had a feeing!
This is my quintessential “World’s Best Looking Midget” story. Once back in college, I saw two punk girls ask to lick Davy’s elbows, and he let them. When I met him again in 2011, I told him the story about witnessing this, and he said probably the most perfect thing he could have ever said in response. He got this disgusted look on his face, grimacing, “Ugh! Why would anyone want to do that? I hate my elbows! Look at them. Gross! I hate my elbows!” I mean, that’s probably my favorite thing anyone has ever said about anything.
Photo: Kelly Suellentrop
I feel obliged to confess that I’m a bit partial to Micky, minus the “bit.” We all have our favorite, right?
It’s no secret, Micky’s my favorite too. I cover him nearly every week themacwire.com.
Well, when I got to finally meet him in 2011, it was a definite highlight for me. Like, maybe 1) birth of my children 2) marrying my husband 3) meeting Micky Dolenz. Only, I ended up saying the dumbest thing to him. First I asked him for a hug, because, you know, I’m super smooth like that. But he obliged, and it was like a FOR REAL hug…not a two-quick-pats-on-the-back-to-humor-you hug. Like a both-arms-in-it-to-win-it hug. Obviously, this caused me to let my guard down, and I blurted out, “You make my heart so happy!” Um, I’ll take “Moments Almost As Embarrassing As That Time Everyone In Your First Grade Class Found Out You Were Lying About Michael Jackson Being Your Cousin,” Alex. (True story, by the way. I totally lied and said MJ was my cousin.) The next year, I held my cool a lot better when I found myself in the same room as him again. He did indeed make my heart happy as I witnessed him singing Beatles tunes at a piano (hello, THAT’S epic), but I kept mum about it that time.
Good one! What are a few of your favorite Monkees songs and why?
“Porpoise Song” wins everything, all the time. It’s not only my favorite Monkees tune, it’s my favorite song in the universe. It’s beautiful. No matter what I’m doing, if that song comes on, I always pause and take it in. And Micky can STILL sing that song like nobody’s business. I also love “Door Into Summer” because, well, it should be mandatory to love Mike & Micky harmonies. “Circle Sky”, “Steppin’ Stone”, and “Mary, Mary” are probably my favorite rockers. And “Terrifying”, “I Was There (And I’m Told I Had a Good Time)”, and “Me & Magdalena” (see above about Mike & Micky harmonies) from the new album are quickly becoming favorites.
Do you remember the first time you heard the Monkees on the radio or saw them on television? What did you think?
Photo: Kelly Suellentrop
The first time I saw the show was probably during the MTV marathon in 1986, then I kept watching it on Nickelodeon and on one of my local channels after school. Obviously, something about it hooked me – probably that it was funny and the guys were cute. I do remember that for some reason.
Did you know it was from the 60s?
It didn’t click with me that the show was from the 60’s. I guess I just thought they dressed weird. My mom saw me watching it one day and said, “Oh, I used to love The Monkees when I was your age. I think my old record is still over at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.” I was like, “Wait, what? This show is OLD? And the guys…they’re all…YOUR AGE?” She corrected me: they were actually older than her. I was a little devastated for a hot minute, but once I got my hands on her old More of the Monkees album, there was no looking back.
I hear ya! Anything more that you want to add?
Um, as a kid I *may* have pretended my Ken dolls were Micky and Davy and acted out a love triangle with my Barbie. It’s one of the only sordid tales of my past (along with lying about Michael Jackson being my cousin). I once wrote about it on my blog, Are You Finished Yet? If you’re into somewhat innocent smut like that, you can read it here.—http://areyoufinishedyet.com/2013/10/17/confessions-of-childhood-my-barbie-was-a-floozy/)
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