Friday, December 10, 2021

Thoughts On The Last Nine Years Photographing The Monkees

 In early 2012, I never thought that I would see the Monkees onstage again. I had given up a photo pass to the band's first show in 2011, due to a work commitment. I'll just see them in the fall, I thought at the time. But time had other ideas. I went so far as to travel four-plus hours to see Micky Dolenz do a half-hour set in Hiawasee, GA, convinced that it was my only chance to hear those songs again.

When the fall tour with Michael Nesmith was announced, that was no question if I was going to see it. The only question was where, and if I could take photos of the show. On November 29th, nearly sixteen years to the day after I saw the Monkees (sans Nesmith) play on my birthday, I photographed the band in Glenside, PA. Those of you that saw that tour know how wondrous it was, witnessing Headquarters, and the whole of the Monkees catalog played live. It was literally a dream come true. Thankfully, there was more to come.

Over the last nine years, through the good graces of Andrew Sandoval, I was enough to photograph the Monkees on several occasions. So many highlights come to mind. Flying to Hollywood to photograph the band's 50th anniversary show in 2016. Dinner with Micky, and Peter Tork in Nashville, discussing music and their plans for their stage show. Witnessing a First National Band show, another impossible mirage come to life. It was not always a perfect ride. Dealing with weekend warrior security in Ohio, and driving ten hours in 2018 to Pennsylvania, only to discover that the show and tour had been cancelled. But if the opportunity came again, I always jumped at the chance to return to that dream.

While I enjoyed photographing the band on this recent final tour, I will always think of photographing the Mike & Micky show in 2019 as my emotional farewell. I was in Ohio to visit my mother-in-law, who had just received a terminal cancer diagnosis. Andrew and the band knew none of this. I just asked if I could photograph their show in Michigan, roughly four hours away. While the band was eager to finish the tour, they gave an emotional show that again that spoke to everything I was feeling in that moment. Some of the best photos of Mike & Micky come from this show. After saying my goodbyes, I made my way back to Ohio through two snowstorms, dodging broken-down cars, and following the ruts on the highway to keep going.

As I approached my mother-in-law's house at 3:30 in the morning, the snow stopped. I had, for just a few minutes, outrun the storm. I pulled into the driveway, and watched as the snowflakes begin to fall on the ground. Time catches up to all of us. But for a moment, we can live and enjoy moments where summers seem endless, and be thankful that while the sun is shining, we surrounded ourselves in the sights and sounds that made our lives better.

I photographed every show as though I may not ever see them again, but in my heart, I always hoped for one more show. As I look back tonight, I am not sad that an era has passed. I am thankful that the dream of the Monkees existed, and for nine years, I was witness to something that, like life, was ever-evolving and ever-changing, but changed my days on this earth for the better. That, and the music, will always be there. Now, and for all of our days to come.

It cannot be part of me, for now it's part of you.

Thank you, Monkees. Thank you Peter, and Mike.

'Til then, goodnight.

December 10, 2021

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