After Davy Jones’ death two years ago, I wondered how the Monkees would, or even could, go forward.
Even after Michael Nesmith came back into the picture later that year, I wondered how that would go. Davy Jones, I thought, was the man the Monkees could not lose.
My friend Derek saw the Mike Nesmith/Micky Dolenz/Peter Tork lineup in California in November 2012, in one of their first shows on that tour. I asked Derek how that was, whether he was satisfied with how they handled not having Davy. He said:
“They handled Davy’s absence in a way that was so incredibly respectful and classy. In effect he *was* there, but there certainly weren’t any creepy holograms onstage.”
Thus reassured, we were eager to see Mike, Micky and Peter a couple of weeks ago in Milwaukee. It was everything Derek said it would be. A great show with just the right nods to Davy’s memory. I won’t give it away, either.
I’d been down that road before, at another show in Milwaukee. Eight years ago, I saw Queen on its first tour without Freddie Mercury.
Paul Rodgers was the lead singer on that tour. That show was tremendous, blending Queen songs with those from Free and Bad Company, but still you wondered how they’d handle Freddie’s absence when it came time for “Bohemian Rhapsody.” That, too, was handled with class and grace, just the right way.
Queen carried on. The Monkees carried on. That’s my hope for another band, one you don’t know.
Last month, The Hot Mess, a trio from Green Bay, packed up and headed north for a gig in Menominee, Michigan. On the way, they stopped at a park to practice and to unwind. They went swimming. Something happened. Mike drowned.
Mike was one of the guitarists, a gentle kid who’d spent time in our basement with the other music kids. He’s the one on the right in this video. It was shot an hour before the accident.
Mike had just turned 20. He and Collin, the Hot Mess’ drummer/guitarist, and our son Evan were pals. (That’s Collin on the left, with fellow bandmate Mitch in the middle.)
A devastating loss. But kids are resilient, thankfully.
It’s been Collin and Mitch and a handful of guest players as they continue to make the rounds of open mic nights. They’ve played a memorial show for Mike and dedicated a picture of him at the coffeehouse where they’re regulars.
The Hot Mess, like Queen and the Monkees before them, carries on.
Please visit our companion blog, The Midnight Tracker, for vintage vinyl, one side at a time.