Davy Jones, the British lead singer of America’s pre-fab-four The Monkees has died this morning of a heart attack in Florida at the age of 66.One of the icons of many of our childhoods, David Thomas Jones, began his acting career at age 11, appearing on the British soap opera Coronation Street and the BBC police drama Z-Cars. He’d decided to quit acting and become a jockey after the death of his mother at age 14, but then landed a role as “the artful dodger” in the musical Oliver, which started in London then moved to Broadway in NYC. It was February 9th of 1964 when the cast of Oliver appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show along with the first appearance of The Beatles. Davy said of that night, “I watched the Beatles from the side of the stage, I saw the girls going crazy, and I said to myself ‘this is it, I want a piece of that.’” Two years later, Jones was short-listed by producers hoping to cash in on the success of Beatlemania into a made for TV group inspired by “A Hard Days Night” The Monkees as the lead singer, with Americans Michael Nesmith, Mickey Dolenz, and Peter Tork. The show ran from 1966-68, but the Monkees continued to make music through 1970, and later reunions. Another famous rocker named David Jones changed his last name to Bowie so as not to be confused with the Monkees singer. Often derided as “the pre-fab-four”, The Beatles hosted a party for the Monkees when they visited England. Michael Nesmith reportedly asked John Lennon if he thought they were a cheap imitation of them, to which Lennon replied “I think you’re the greatest comic talent since the Marx brothers. I’ve never missed one of your programmes.” George Harrison later said “It’s obvious what’s happening, there’s talent there. They’re doing a TV show, it’s a difficult chore, and I wouldn’t be in their shoes for the world. When they get it all sorted out, they might turn out to be the best.” (Peter Tork played on Harrison’s Wonderwall Music). Paul McCartney was seen singing “Hey Hey We’re The Monkees”…as so many of us did back in the day…in the 2002 concert film Back In The U.S. Jones continued acting after the Monkees disbanded, often appearing as himself on TV shows like The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, and in fake-Seattle on Here come the Brides with fellow heartthrob Bobby Sherman. He’d done several reunions with Peter Tork and Mickey Dolenz, and there was talk of a full-on reunion including Michael Nesmith.
Davy’s last performance was in Oklahoma on Feb. 19th, the night before he did “Daydream Believer” and “It’s Nice To Be With You” at the BB King Blues Club in New York. He appeared to be in good health. More from CBS.
Marcia, Marcia, Marica!
Davy Jones screen-tests for The Monkees (caution…contains some foul language):
One of Davy’s last appearances:
The Monkees rocking out:
The greatest comic talent since the Marx brothers:
Where Axl Rose copped all his moves:
The Monkees inspired generations: