It's been an intense year for Micky Dolenz, the singer, drummer, and director first made famous by his time as one of the Monkees, pop music's first televisual confection.
And his time continues: The band is on the road for a 12-date tour that takes them to the Keswick Theatre on Thursday.
This year Dolenz released a solo album, Remember, in which he covers songs most important to him, with cool stories attached. He covers the Beatles' "Good Morning, Good Morning" - because he was present, at Paul McCartney's invitation, during that tune's original recording for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The backing track from that tune later surfaced in a Monkees episode Dolenz directed.
"Sugar Sugar" was to be a Monkees single before producer Don Kirshner gave it to the Archies. The Dolenz-penned "Randy Scouse Git" was written as an audio scrapbook of the Monkees' first tour of England.
"Every one of those songs comes with something deeply personal to me," Dolenz says by phone from his pad in New York. The band had just finished four dates in a row - their next is at the Keswick.
The year 2012 was shadowed by the sudden passing of pal and fellow Monkee David Jones in February. It was a death in the family, and a punch in the gut to Dolenz. "I have three siblings and probably spent more time with Davy then I did them," he says of the pair's 47-year relationship.
Jones died even as he and the other three Monkees - Dolenz, Peter Tork, and even Michael Nesmith, who had avoided all but a very few Monkees live reunions - were finalizing plans to hit the road together, on a tour in which they'd tackle the whole of 1967's Headquarters, an album on which they broke away from tight studio control and wrote and played much of the material themselves.
"Mike was the guy to lead the palace revolt back then for us to be involved in our own songwriting and playing," Dolenz says. "He motivated us to take control of our music."
Jones may have died, but the idea to reunite the Monkees didn't. Forever invited to tour with his old friends, Nesmith chose this particular time to do it, and Dolenz is well pleased.
"I'm having the very best time with Mike. It's not as if we weren't in contact. And it wasn't as if he avoided us. He hasn't toured his own solo material in decades.
"Whether on-stage or backstage," Dolenz says, "it's like no time ever passed between the old days and the present. We were tied to the hip for so long that when we got together for this tour, we fell right back into the same interactions we had years ago."
The current onstage Monkee patter is still effortless, comedic, and improvisational. That's why the individual Monkees passed the CBS-driven auditions for the band in the first place back in 1965-66 - they fit together seamlessly, Dolenz says. Beyond the onstage camaraderie, though, it is the music between them, the storied hits and their jamming as a band, that strikes Dolenz as most loving.
"There are a few truly amazing moments on stage for me, especially the Headquarters stuff, where it's just the three of us and I'm playing drums," he says with a laugh. "I love drumming and haven't done so in every Monkees configuration, but with Michael there, it's just powerful." The band also pays homage to Jones, the absent Monkee: "Without exaggeration I tear up every time. He is so very fondly remembered."