Monkee Memories

Micky Dolenz performs with the Monkees in Duluth on Nov. 9, 1986. Photo by Steve Stearns


Remember the Monkees, who sang their way to fame on a TV show in the 1960s? The band made it to Duluth at least twice, according to News Tribune files.
The first time was on Sept. 6, 1969. They performed twice at the Duluth Auditorium.
A story that ran the next day said, “The afternoon audience was small but enthusiastic. Attendance in the evening was better, and Arena-Auditorium officials said 3,806 youngsters in all saw the group.
“Earlier in the day, Superior police had to disperse a crowd of young girls — about 200 — who had gathered near the motel at which the group was reportedly staying. They were disappointed. The Monkees already had left for their afternoon show.”
The group returned for a performance 17 years later, on Nov. 9, 1986. Well, most of the group. Mike “Wool Hat” Nesmith wasn’t there, but the other three were: Davy Jones, Peter Tork and Mickey Dolenz.
Here’s a little bit of what staff writer Mike Hughlett had to say in his review of that concert:
“The rock ’n’ roll animal is a creature of many moods.
“It can be angry, sensual, artsy, theatrical, and sometimes even philosophical. But above all, the rock ’n’ roll animal likes to have a good time.
“The Monkees know that. Saturday night, they dished out about an hour of just plain fun to about 4,300 fans of all ages — including an especially vocal contingent of teenage girls — in the Duluth Arena.
“OK, rock ’n’ roll pseudo-highbrows, I know what you’re saying: ‘The Manufactured Monkees, the world’s pre-eminent, prefabricated rock band — a combo so musically forlorn they couldn’t even play their own instruments. And now they’re going to cash in on their ill-gained fame before their heads runneth over with gray hairs. I just can’t take them seriously.’
Well, critic, you lost. They might be cashing in, but the Monkees were never meant to be taken as artists come to deliver a speakerful of sagacity. Sure, they may have been hyped as a serious response to the Beatles. But at heart they were slapstick comedians with a paisley twist who happened to sing some fantastic songs.”

What concerts do you have fond memories of in the Duluth area?

Linda Hanson, copy editor

11 Responses

  1. Tammi

    I was six when I was the Monkees at the Auditorium. I sat close to the front & was told to wait for my Dad (who was with the police department) after the concert & he would come get me. Everyone left the auditorium and I got scared & began to cry when a lady came and took be back stage. I met them all & got all of their autographs in concert book. I took Davey’s out and taped it on my wall! I have since lost that page but still have the others!

  2. Bob

    Harry Chapin was here about 6 months before he passed away.

    The Monkees stayed at the Bridgeview in Superior, they ate lunch that day at my parents old restaurant, the Patio Cafe. Somewhere I still have their autographed placemat… somewhere… Man was that a long time ago!!!

  3. Dan

    KISS, Styx, Ted Nugent, Cheap Trick, Doobie Brothers, Molly Hatchet, Seals & Crofts and opening acts like Pablo Cruise, Firefall, Eddie Money. All in the middle to late 70s. And I’m forgetting some, I’m sure.

  4. PJ, Duluth

    Wasn’t Melissa Manchester there once? I think I saw Harry Chapin, too. (Or am I making that up? Memory is tricky!) Saw Neil Diamond but can’t remember who opened for him. We got there late and some nice person set up seats for us right next to the stage. Hubba hubba.


    Saw and heard Elvis his first trip to Duluth. He was great! There is a map at Graceland that shows every concert he put on including the two in Duluth. Interesting

  6. Bob Patterson

    I remember the Beach Boys in concert at the Arena during the grand opening of Arena Auditorium 1966.
    Also saw Johnny Cash & Carter family in fall of 1968.
    Biggest concert I saw was Elvis in 1976. Arena was packed and he came back once more before he passed on in 1977.
    I went to the Neil Diamond concert in 1970/71 and I don’t remember Roy Orbison opening for Neil Diamond. I worked at the old Chinese Lantern in 1969 and the Monkees wanted to go out the back door to get away from their screaming fans.
    Management wouldn’t let them out the back way and they had to face their fans on Superior Street instead.

  7. John David Lundy

    Since we’re not restricted to rock concerts …
    Chanticleer at the Weber, February 2004
    The Dale Warland Singers also at the Weber, I think that was in 2003.

  8. Sleep deprived

    Three Dog Night used to put on great shows in Duluth and I think they were at the Arena 3 times that I recall. (not counting the time they played at Bayfront on July 4th one year). There were so many good concerts at the Arena over the years – I don’t think I missed any.
    But I do have a question about one Neil Diamond concert (…I know…Neil Diamond…) Did he play here twice around 70/71 ? What I want to know is, did Roy Orbison open for him one of those concerts. I have a bet riding on it, if anyone can recall.
    Other concerts: Creedence Clearwater, Chicago, The Guess Who were pretty good ones. No Ticketmaster back then. We used to mail in our money to the Arena ticket office and get good seats when it wasn’t festival seating.

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