Micky Dolenz of The Monkees has a name similar to the title character of “Mickey” by Toni Basil; however, Basil did not name the song after Dolenz. Fans still thought Dolenz was connected to “Mickey” for a reason that goes beyond his name. Notably, Basil did have a connection to The Monkees.
The connection between Toni Basil and The Monkees’ Micky Dolenz
While Basil’s “Mickey” is famous, it wasn’t the original version of the song. According to Medium, “Mickey” was initially a track called “Kitty” by the British band Racey. When Basil performed the track, she changed its name from “Kitty” to “Mickey.”
Outside of being a singer, Basil is most known for her work as a choreographer. She famously choreographed the only feature film starring The Monkees: Head. She appears dancing alongside Davy Jones while he sings “Daddy’s Song.” A rumor developed that Basil had a crush on Dolenz while making Head and changed the title of “Kitty” to “Mickey” for that reason.
How Toni Basil reacted to the rumor ‘Mickey’ was about The Monkees’ Micky Dolenz
Basil shut down the rumor “Mickey” is connected to The Monkees. “Some guy decided that it would be funny to put that in my Wikipedia entry,” she told Vulture. “He was adamant that ‘Mickey’ was about Micky Dolenz. I choreographed the Head movie but I didn’t really know Micky at all. I knew Davy Jones much better. We finally got it off [Wikipedia].” According to Medium, Basil chose to rename the song “Mickey” not because of Dolenz, but because it was the male name that sounded the most similar to “Kitty.”
Basil’s other major change to Racey’s song was adding the cheerleader chant at the beginning. “I remember the echoing in the basketball court of the cheerleaders, of us, stomping and chanting,” Basil said. “The record company begged me not to put the chant on it, because they thought that was ridiculous. So I said ‘All right, I’m just going to do it for the video.'”
How the world reacted to ‘Mickey’
Regardless of who “Mickey” is about, the song was a hit. It reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for 27 weeks. The song’s parent album, Word of Mouth, was also a hit. It reached No. 22 on the Billboard 200 and remained on the chart for 30 weeks.
“Mickey” would be Basil’s only top 40 hit in the U.S. Her other singles that charted on the Billboard Hot 100, “Shoppin’ from A to Z” and “Over My Head,” reached No. 77 and No. 81, respectively.
“Mickey” was a hit in the United Kingdom as well. The Official Charts Company reports the song reached No. 2 in the U.K., staying on the chart for 12 weeks. Meanwhile, Word of Mouth reached No. 15 in the U.K. and stayed on the chart for 16 weeks.
Only one of Basil’s other singles, “Nobody,” charted in the U.K. It merely hit No. 52 and dropped off the chart after four weeks. Even if Basil’s singing career wasn’t hugely successful, she still had one major hit — and that major hit had nothing to do with Dolenz.