Chuck Berry and The Monkees made very different songs; however, Micky Dolenz played a classic Berry song when he auditioned for The Monkees’ TV show. Notably, Dolenz was auditioning for a different role than the one he ultimately played. Dolenz also revealed The Monkees changed his musical style.
Micky Dolenz of The Monkees revealed he was inspired by Chuck Berry and these other rock ‘n’ roll artists
The Monkees are often compared to The Beatles — and with good reason. According to the book Psychedelic Bubble Gum: Boyce & Hart, The Monkees, and Turning Mayhem into Miracles, Monkees songwriter Bobby Hart said the Prefab Four’s show was modeled on The Beatles’ movies A Hard Day’s Night and Help!. Despite this, Dolenz cited an earlier generation of musicians as influences.
“The early influences I had were rock ‘n’ rollers,” Dolenz told HuffPost. “That was what I was doing before The Monkees — those were my influences. I was into Eric Burdon, I was into Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs, I was into much harder rock. My influences were Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry.”
Mickey Dolenz played this song and received a different role in The Monkees than the one for which he auditioned
During an interview with Goldmine Magazine, Dolenz revealed he played a song by one of his musical inspirations while he auditioned for The Monkees. “At my audition for The Monkees, I played guitar, actually,” he said. “My audition piece was ‘Johnny B. Goode.’ And when they cast me, they said, ‘You’re the drummer,’ and I told them ‘I play rhythm guitar,’ and they said they had enough guitar players. I said, ‘Fine. When do I start?’ And they said ‘You start tomorrow.'”
Dolenz told HuffPost The Monkees changed his musical direction. “I was a screaming rock ‘n’ roller,” he recalled. “But then when The Monkees came along, of course, I took direction. It was obviously a pop group, with pop music and pop songs, and I was hired to play the part of a drummer in a pop group.”
The way the world reacted to Chuck Berry’s ‘Johnny B. Goode’
Although it’s currently one of the most famous rock songs of the 1950s, “Johnny B. Goode” was not a massive hit in the United States at the time. It peaked at No. 80 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for one week. Meanwhile, The Official Charts Company reports “Johnny B. Goode” didn’t chart in the United Kingdom at all.
The song garnered new attention in the 1980s when Marty McFly played it in a famous scene from Back to the Future. “Johnny. B. Goode” also appeared in the musical adaptation of the movie. Dolenz released a cover of “Johnny B. Goode” on his album Micky Dolenz Remembers. While “Johnny B. Goode” was not a huge hit, it played a significant role in The Monkees’ history.