Last living Monkees member wants to see band’s FBI, lawsuit says

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The Monkees weren’t exactly the banners of the anti-Vietnam war movement in the late 1960s, but the pop-rock band was still the subject of an FBI file. In it, an agent reported seeing “subliminal messages” on a screen during one of their concerts, depicting protests against racial equality and “anti-American messages about the Vietnam War”.

That heavily edited file from 1967 was released about ten years ago. But now the last remaining member of the American rock group, Micky Dolenz, wants to know more. On Tuesday, Dolenz, 77, sued the Department of Justice to release information collected by the FBI about the band and its members from that period.

“If the documents still exist, I fully expect that we will learn more about what prompted the FBI to target the Monkees or the people around them,” attorney Mark Zaid, who represents Dolenz, told The Washington. Post.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Post about Dolenz’s lawsuit, which was first reported by Rolling Stone.

The Monkees were put together by television producers in 1966 for a sitcom that ran for two seasons. Their style largely mimics British invasion bands such as the Beatles, and the Monkees released numerous hits, including “I’m a Believer” and “Last Train to Clarksville.” The band broke up in 1970.

In the 1960s, J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI carried out the infamous surveillance and harassment of civil rights and counterculture figures, as The Post and other news outlets revealed at the time. That oversight sometimes focused on pop culture icons who spoke out against the Vietnam War, such as John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix.

The Monkees were also entangled in government surveillance. In a 2016 interview with Rolling Stone, Dolenz said his band’s 1966 hit “Last Train to Clarksville” was an anti-war song about a man who went to an army base and didn’t know when he would return to his girlfriend. But what exactly caught the FBI’s attention about the band — aside from what the agent called “leftist” footage during the 1967 concert — is unclear.

Much of the seven-page memo released by the agency has been redacted, although Zaid told The Post that other files may exist based on what appears on the released document.

“It’s pretty obvious that there are other linked files,” he said. “Now it may not be directly on the Monkees — it could be peripherals — but these files are connected to other files.”

It was Zaid who suggested that Dolenz, whom he met through a mutual friend in April, ask for more information about his band’s FBI files, he told The Post. The Washington-based attorney has represented government whistleblowers, including whoever filed the complaint that eventually sparked the first impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

But the 55-year-old attorney has a personal interest in the Monkees case. When he was a kid, his babysitter across the street gave him all of her Monkees albums, and when the band went on their 1986 reunion tour, Zaid was there. He saw them live about eight more times, he told The Post.

“I mean, literally, this is fun for me,” Zaid, who works pro bono on the case, said of filing the lawsuit for the FBI files.

With Zaid’s help, Dolenz filed a Freedom of Information Act petition for the documents with the FBI in June. He requested that the agency review the redacted document and provide other possible files related to the band and its members, according to the lawsuit.

The government has 20 business days to respond to FOIA requests, barring “unusual circumstances.” Dolenz has so far only received confirmations of his requests, the lawsuit says.

“Any window into what the FBI was up to could lead to another window opening,” Zaid said. “That’s the beauty of having access to these kinds of files — because there are little nuggets and bits in them that can lead to a bigger picture of what was going on inside the FBI at the time.”

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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