Fifty-five years ago, the FBI collected information on the Monkees, the pop band known for its eponymous sitcom. A portion of this information was unsealed in 2011, revealing that an FBI informant had attended a concert on the band’s debut 1967 American tour and noticed “subliminal messages” in the projections that “constituted ‘left-wing interventions of a political nature.’” (Those included footage protesting the Vietnam War and of civil-rights riots in Selma, Alabama.) Now, Micky Dolenz, the last surviving member of the Monkees, is suing the FBI for the band’s full file, Rolling Stone reports. The move comes after a failed Freedom of Information Act request, which the magazine said could have been due to a backlog of business related to the pandemic and the January 6 insurrection.
FBI research on the Monkees occurred during the leadership of the bureau’s powerful first director, J. Edgar Hoover, who was noted for his anti-communist actions. The FBI notoriously investigated many musicians of the time, as the lawsuit notes, including John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix. “Hoover’s FBI, in the ’60s in particular, was infamous for monitoring the counterculture, whether they committed unlawful actions or not,” Dolenz’s attorney, Mark S. Zaid, told Rolling Stone. The lawsuit is focused both on the heavily redacted seven-page document released in 2011, along with another referenced document that was entirely redacted, plus any other files the FBI could have on the band or any of its members. Zaid acknowledged the information “may be peripheral” to the band. “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.”