Monkees singer Micky Dolenz sues FBI over secret dossier on the band's 'anti-war messages'

 Micky Dolenz - Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Micky Dolenz - Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

The last surviving member of 1960s rock band The Monkees is suing the FBI in an effort to get the agency to hand over its records on the group.

Micky Dolenz sang and played the drums for what was then one of the most popular bands in America. But the musicians sparked government interest for supposedly featuring "anti-US messages on the war in Vietnam" and broadcasting left-wing "subliminal messages" during a 1967 concert.

The FBI created a file on the band and its members, portions of which were released in 2011, but now Mr Dolenz, 77, wants to see the entire records.

“This lawsuit seeks to expose why the FBI was monitoring the Monkees and / or its individual members,” lawyer Mark Zaid said in a statement.

"We know the mid-to-late 1960s saw the FBI surveil Hollywood anti-war advocates, and those who represented the counter-culture of the flower / hippie / drug use movement. And the Monkees were in the thick of things," he added.

A black and white photo shows the band performing on stage - NBC
A black and white photo shows the band performing on stage - NBC

The group became widely known in the late 1960s for hits including ‘I'm a Believer’ and ‘Last Train to Clarksville’. They are the only band to ever have four number one albums in one year - setting that record in 1967.

But some songs caught the attention of authorities as America became bogged down in the Vietnam war.

In ‘Last Train to Clarksville’' - about a man heading to an army base - the band sang: “Take the last train to Clarksville. Now I must hang up the phone. I can't hear you in this noisy railroad station, all alone. I'm feelin' low. Oh, no, no, no. Oh, no, no, no. And I don't know if I'm ever coming home.”

Most of the seven-page FBI memo - first reported by Rolling Stone - is redacted, but one portion says of a 1967 concert that "subliminal messages" were depicted on screen "which constituted left wing innovations of a political nature".

The filing says: “These messages and pictures were flashed of riots in Berkeley, anti-US messages on the war in Vietnam and  racial riots in Selma, Alabama.”

In the lawsuit, Mr Dolenz says he has "exhausted all necessary required administrative remedies" to access the files, after submitting a Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI in June.

The FBI has not commented.