Micky Dolenz of the Monkees demanded access to his file after a FOIA request was ignored
Monkees singer Micky Dolenz, the last living member of the ‘60s boy-band, has sued the FBI to gain access to his file after attempts to obtain it via a Freedom of Information Act request went unanswered, his lawyer, Mark Zaid, told the Rolling Stone on Tuesday.
The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia on Tuesday, demands the release of the FBI’s file on Dolenz, plus anything it has on the Monkees – both as a band and regarding Dolenz’s three deceased bandmates.
Dolenz had attempted to secure the records himself using the FOIA request, which he filed in June and which by law must be answered within 20 days. When the agency failed to respond, Zaid, himself a Monkees fan since childhood, suggested litigation.
That the FBI has a file on the Monkees is a matter of public record. Parts of it are publicly accessible on the agency’s “Vault” website, including a report from an informant who was apparently in the audience during their inaugural tour in 1967.
The file describes “subliminal messages” being projected onto a screen behind the band, constituting – in the informant’s mind, at least – “left-wing intervention of a political nature.”
They described images of riots in Berkeley, “anti-US messages on the war in Vietnam,” race riots in Alabama, and other controversial tableaux “which had unfavorable response[s] from the audience” while being flashed on the screen.
But while that tempting tidbit has been available for the public to read since 2011, much of the rest of the seven-page document is heavily redacted, and a second document that it refers to has supposedly been “redacted entirely.”
Dolenz and his lawyer hope to discover why the FBI was interested in the group – formed in 1966 by television execs for a sitcom – in the first place. Zaid acknowledged to Rolling Stone that in J. Edgar Hoover’s time, the FBI was “infamous for monitoring the counterculture, whether they committed unlawful actions or not” and didn’t really need a reason to send an informant to a popular musical act’s shows searching for subversion.
“Theoretically, anything could be in those files though,” he said. “We have no idea what records even exist. It could be almost nothing, but we’ll see soon enough.”