Monkees’ Micky Dolenz sues FBI, wants surveillance docs

Micky Dolenz, the last surviving member of the 1960s made-for-TV pop band The Monkees, is suing the Justice Department in a bid to acquire FBI records that might shed light on the bureau’s surveillance of him and his bandmates.

What You Need To Know

  • Micky Dolenz, the last surviving member of the 1960s made-for-TV pop band The Monkees, is suing the Justice Department in a bid to acquire FBI records that might shed light on the bureau’s surveillance of him and his bandmates
  • Dolenz, 77, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia
  • Dolenz’s attorney, Mark Zaid, claims in the lawsuit the Monkees star tried unsuccessfully to obtain the documents through a Freedom of Information Act request
  • An FBI web page acknowledges that references to The Monkees appear in two places in the bureau’s files: a 1967 Los Angeles field office memorandum on anti-Vietnam War activities and a second document that has been redacted entirely

Dolenz, 77, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia.

Dolenz’s attorney, Mark Zaid, claims in the lawsuit the Monkees star tried unsuccessfully to obtain the documents through a Freedom of Information Act request. Zaid says Dolenz filed the request June 14 and the FBI acknowledge receipt of the request electronically later that same day and again by letter June 23.

Zaid also represented the whistleblower who disclosed in 2019 that then-President Donald Trump had pressured Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. The accusation led to the first of Trump’s two impeachments, although the Senate did not convict him.

Dolenz only learned about the existence of the files recently when Zaid, a Monkees fan whom he met through mutual friends, suggested it might be fun to see if the FBI had a file on him or the other Monkees.

Dolenz has not received any response from the FBI since June 23, the lawsuit says. The Freedom of Information Act requires federal agencies to produce requested documents within 20 working days of receiving the request.

“This lawsuit is designed to obtain any records the FBI created and/or possesses on the Monkees as well as its individual members,” the lawsuit says. “Mr. Dolenz has exhausted all necessary required administrative remedies with respect to his [Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act] request.”

The Justice Department and FBI declined to comment.

An FBI web page acknowledges that references to The Monkees appear in two places in the bureau’s files: a 1967 Los Angeles field office memorandum on anti-Vietnam War activities and a second document that has been redacted entirely.

The 1967 memo is heavily redacted, but it claims that at a Monkees concert “subliminal messages were depicted” on a video screen behind the band, “which, in the opinion of [redacted] constituted ‘left wing innovations of a political nature.’ These messages and pictures were flashes of riots in Berkeley, anti-U.S. messages of the war in Vietnam, racial riots in Selma, Alabama, and similar messages which had received unfavorable response from the audience.”

“Theoretically, anything could be in those files though,” Zaid told Rolling Stone. “We have no idea what records even exist. It could be almost nothing. But we’ll see soon enough.”

In addition to being given the complete file on The Monkees, Dolenz is seeking “reasonable costs,” including attorney fees.

The Monkees, which also featured Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork, formed in 1966 as part of a TV sitcom by the same name. The show was canceled in 1968, but the band continued to play together. They sold more than 75 million records worldwide and had No. 1 hits with “Last Train to Clarksville,” “I’m a Believer” and “Daydream Believer.”

While their music was largely cheery pop, they sometimes included anti-war sentiments, including in “Last Train to Clarksville.”