Surfside Beach and the Monkeys

By Junior Johnson


During my offshore career I worked many locations in the Gulf of Mexico. In 1990 I was working out of Matagorda, Texas and decided that a little beach house for the summer would be very nice. My son Kevin was 16-years-old at the time and it was a school break so we began looking for a place on the Texas coast.
With the help of a Realtor we found Surfside, Texas to be a place of our liking and arrangements were made to secure a lease for the summer on a nice little two bedroom cabin right on a beach on the Gulf of Mexico. The place was built on stilts with a porch overlooking the water with a breathtaking view. The sound of the waves lapping onto the shore sounded heavenly.

It didn’t take Kevin and I long to unload our possessions from the U-Haul trailer. We had help from our new neighbors, and from their friendliness, we knew we were in for a wonderful summer. After everything was arranged to our liking, Kevin and several of our new friends went off to explore the beach so he could become familiar with the area. I decided it was time for me to do the same and I began a stroll up the beach.

Just a short walk from our cabin I came upon a nice bar and restaurant and decided to stop in for a few drinks. It was about mid-afternoon and the place didn’t have many patrons so I strolled up to the bar and took a seat. After receiving my order I relaxed and began enjoying the view. About this time a Lady walked in and sat down right next to me and nodded hello.

The bartender came over and said, “The usual Mrs. Janelle?.”

She said “Yes, and bring this young man whatever it is that he is having.”

The bartender returned with a drink for me and a shot of whiskey and a mug of beer for her.

She looked at me and asked if I was new in town and I told her yes and gave a little background about myself and Kevin. As a proud dad, I said that he was a budding musician. She looked at me with a twinkle in her eyes and said that her son also played music. She said, “Have you ever heard of the Monkees? My son is Mickey Dolenz and my name is Janelle Johnson Dolenz.” After I regained my composure we laughed about both being Johnsons, though not related.

Janelle called the bartender over and introduced me to him and said that my son was a musician and we had just moved there for the summer. She said that she wanted Kevin to join in with the band that night. The way she put it was, “Make it happen.” He said absolutely, and I could hardly wait to find Kevin and give him the news. Our FIRST day in our new summer home.

Kevin was excited and when we showed up later that night Mrs. Dolenz had a big crowd waiting for the new addition to the band. She and I shared a table that night as we would do a number of times that summer as Kevin became a regular with the band.

Kevin did speak with Mickey several times that summer by phone as Janelle would watch over and mentor him while I was away at work. He loved her dearly and they kept in touch until her death 5 years later.

Sadly we lost Kevin in a car accident while on his way back to Austin, Texas to be with his young family 6 years after our summer in Surfside. He was following his musical dream performing on Sixth Street.

Although he never met Mickey Dolenz and the Monkees, Kevin was asked by Kenny Wayne Shepard to perform on stage with him at an Austin City Limits filming. He said that he considered that the highlight of his young musical career.

7 thoughts on “Surfside Beach and the Monkeys

  1. I moved to Natchitoches from Surfside Beach. I miss the Gulf so much. My old landlord lived on Nesmith Street – rumor always was around town that was the Monkee that lived there, but I’m guessing no.
    However, Elvis does live in Surfside Beach and it sure is funny to walk into the corner store and there’s Elvis buying milk.

  2. Great story Junior! Thanks for sharing it with us. ( I always liked the Monkeys and Herman’s Hermits, but then I was a bit weird!)

  3. Junior I luv ur interesting entertaining stories. I’ve often heard everyone has a story, u have a book full. Keep em coming please!

  4. I appreciate the kind (and clever wording Mr. Poe😜) words and encouragement. I love telling stories and although my life was no different than any of you, I feel that my little ramblings may bring back some good memories in your own lives. This story may have been a bit too personal, but if a reader of my Kevin story had a similar loss of a loved one, and they found comfort in the way it has played out for me these past twenty years, after Kevin left “on an extended Tour with the Angels in Heaven”, I believe that Kevin knows this and will communicate the love for you to those whom he is surrounded with….

  5. Great story Jr. I grew up watching and listening to the Monkeys. All the girls were in love with them. Not quite as big as the Beatles but a close 2nd. Keep up the writing Jr. I love reading your adventures.

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