The Monkees’ Micky Dolenz sues the FBI over a ‘secret dossier’ they allegedly held of the band.
Micky Dolenz, the 77-year-old former drummer and vocalist for the 1960s group The Monkees, is suing the FBI over a “secret dossier” he believes the agency holds about his former band. Dolenz, the last surviving member of the British-American group, filed the lawsuit through his attorney, Mark Zaid. Zaid is a music fan and freedom of information specialist who told Rolling Stone he thought the case “might be fun.”
Zaid said it started as a joke, suggesting to Dolenz that it “might be fun to see if the FBI had a file on him or his former bandmates.” But that turned out to be accurate, and a heavily redacted snippet (still seven pages in length) surfaced in 2011. The cover of the FBI file incorrectly refers to the band as “the Monkeys.” The documents provide little detail as to why the group was of interest to federal agents in the first place.
“That just kind of reinforced for me that there was actually something here,” says Zaid. “It’s not just a fishing expedition. I mean, we’re still fishing, but we know there’s fish in the water.”
Notably, the file originated during the Vietnam War, when the US government was famously sensitive to any criticism from prominent figures such as actors and musicians. A section marked “Additional activities denouncing the US policy in the war in Vietnam,” contains a page almost entirely blacked out.
Still, The Monkees were not known to be a very politically-charged band. They were initially created for television and enjoyed success with many hits, including “I’m a Believer,” “Daydream Believer,” and “Last Train to Clarksville.” That said, “Last Train to Clarksville” was about a man heading for war and unsure if he would see his loved ones again.
Notes taken of a Monkees concert state: “subliminal messages were depicted on the screen which (…) constituted ‘left-wing innovations of a political nature,’ including video footage of ‘anti-US messages on the war in Vietnam.'”
Zaid said he submitted a freedom of information request in June, asking to see the complete file and any individual files for Dolenz and his late bandmates, if applicable. After the agency failed to respond, Zaid said he decided to press forward with the lawsuit.
The FBI has long been known to monitor prominent recording artists. The agency had amassed over 300 pages on John Lennon amid efforts by President Nixon to deport him in 1972 for his involvement in the peace movement. Frank Sinatra, known to have ties to the mafia, also appeared in numerous FBI files during his life.