This heavily redacted file from 1967 was declassified a decade ago. But now, the last surviving member of the American rock band, Micky Dolenz, wants to know more. Tuesday, Dolenz, 77, sued the Justice Department for releasing information the FBI had gathered about the group and its members from that time period.
“If the documents still exist, I expect we will know more about what caused the FBI to target the Monkees or those around them,” said attorney Mark Zaid, who represents Dolenz, in Washington. Post.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a Post request for comment regarding Dolenz’s lawsuit, which was first reported by Rolling Stone.
The Monkees were brought together in 1966 by television producers for a sitcom that ran for two seasons. Their style largely emulated British invasion bands like the Beatles, and the Monkees released many 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 infamously surveilled and harassed civil rights and counterculture figures, as The Post and other outlets revealed at the time. This surveillance was sometimes centered on pop culture icons who spoke out against the Vietnam War, such as John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix.
The Monkees have also been caught up 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 going to an army base and not knowing when. he would return with his girlfriend. But exactly what drew the band’s attention to the FBI — other than what the agent called “left-wing” footage at the 1967 concert — is unclear.
Much of the seven-page memo released by the agency is redacted, though Zaid told the Post it’s possible other files exist based on what’s shown in the declassified document.
“It’s pretty obvious that there are other related files,” he said. “Now it may not be directly on the Monkees – it could be peripheral – but these files are connected to other files.”
It was Zaid who suggested that Dolenz, whom he met through a mutual friend in April, request more information about his group’s FBI records, he told the Post. The Washington-based attorney has represented government whistleblowers, including the one who filed the lawsuit that ultimately sparked President Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial.
But the 55-year-old lawyer has a personal interest in the Monkees case. When he was a kid, his babysitter across the street gave him all of his Monkees albums, and when the band did their reunion tour in 1986, Zaid was there. He saw them live about eight more times, he told the Post.
“I mean, literally, it’s fun for me,” Zaid, who works on the pro bono case, said of filing the lawsuit for FBI records.
With Zaid’s help, Dolenz filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the documents with the FBI in June. He asked the agency to review the redacted document and provide other possible records regarding the group 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 acknowledgments of his requests, the lawsuit says.
“Any window into what the FBI was doing can lead to another window being opened,” Zaid said. “That’s the beauty of having access to these types of files – because there are little nuggets and pieces within them that can lead to the big picture to understand what was going on within the FBI at the time. ‘era.”