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Davy Jones

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Davy Jones
Photo by Larry Ellis/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Davy Jones of the Monkees died of an apparent heart attack on 29th February 2012 aged 66. The singer had been on a solo tour this month and had complained of chest pains the previous evening and was admitted to a hospital in Stuart Florida.

Jones was born in Manchester, England and started acting as a child, though he got his big break in 1965 when he joined The Monkees. The group had a hugely successful television series and a slew of hit songs in the late 1960s. At their peak in 1967, they sold more records than the Beatles.

In September 1965, The Hollywood Reporter ran the following advertisement: “Madness folk & roll musicians, singers wanted for acting roles in a new TV show. Parts for 4 insane boys.” The Monkees were born.

These were the days when the seeds of Pop Idol and X-Factor had yet to germinate in the mind of a five-year-old Simon Fuller.

So, where did these four cheeky, floppy-haired wannabes come from?

Englishman Davy Jones was a former jockey who had achieved some initial success on the musical stage (in 1964, Jones appeared with the cast of Oliver! on The Ed Sullivan Show the night of the Beatles’ live American debut).

Texan Michael Nesmith had served a brief stint in the US Air Force and had also recorded for Colpix under the name Michael Blessing. Nesmith was the only one of The Monkees who had come in based on seeing the trade magazine ad. He showed up to the audition with his laundry.

Micky Dolenz, son of screen actor George M. Dolenz, Sr., had prior screen experience (under the name Mickey Braddock) as the 10-year-old star of the Circus Boy series in the 1950s.

Peter Tork was recommended to producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider by friend Stephen Stills at his own audition. Tork, a skilled multi-instrumentalist, had performed at various Greenwich Village folk clubs before moving west, where he was a dishwasher before becoming a Monkee.

The Monkees story began in 1965, when Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, a pair of producers, came up with an idea for a television series about a rock group. Inspired by Richard Lester’s groundbreaking comedies with the Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, Rafelson and Schneider imagined a situation comedy in which a four-piece band had wacky adventures every week and occasionally burst into song.

The NBC television network liked the idea, and production began on The Monkees in early 1966. Don Kirshner, a music business veteran, was appointed music coordinator for the series, and Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, a producing and songwriting team, signed on to handle much of the day-to-day chores of creating music for the show’s fictive band.

Avant-garde film techniques—such as improvisation, quick cuts, jump cuts—helped win the show two Emmy awards in 1967 and propelled its four stars to pop stardom. John Lennon called them “the Marx Brothers of rock”, but in 1967, The Monkees outsold both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones combined, and went on to sell 50 million records.

The show also saw heavy cross-promotion and product placement, with prominent promotion of sponsors such as Gretsch (for musical instruments), Kellogg’s breakfast cereals, and Yardley’s shaving supplies. The series was sponsored on alternate weeks by Kellogg’s Cereals and Yardley of London.

Each of the four was given a different personality to portray: Dolenz the funny one, Nesmith the smart and serious one, Tork the naive one, and Jones the cute one. Their characters were loosely based on their real selves, with the exception of Tork, who was actually a quiet intellectual. The character types also had much in common with the respective personalities of The Beatles, with Dolenz representing the madcap attitude of John Lennon, Nesmith affecting the deadpan seriousness of George Harrison, Tork depicting the odd-man-out quality of Ringo Starr, and Jones conveying the pin-up appeal of Paul McCartney.

The Monkees resided in a two-story beach house at 1334 North Beechwood Blvd. in Malibu, California. The front of the first floor was a combination of the living room, dining room and kitchen. In the back, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, was an alcove where the Monkees kept their instruments and rehearsed songs. The walls were covered with various signs and posters, such as the “MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL” sign near the kitchen and the “IN CASE OF FIRE, RUN” sign with an arrow pointing to an old-fashioned fire extinguisher near the front door.

The Monkees premiered on NBC in September 1966; this was just the start of The Monkees phenomenon. “Last Train to Clarksville,” the group’s first single, had become a number one hit a few weeks earlier.

The Monkees were the first group to exploit television and have songs written for them by classic Brill Building artists (Neil Diamond, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Harry Nilsson, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, and Jeff Barry). And what great tunes they were: “Last Train to Clarksville”, “Daydream Believer”, “A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You”, “I’m a Believer” and “Pleasant Valley Sunday”.

So what if the Monkees never played on their first two albums and that their 1968 psychedelic film Head was a turkey. And yes, in one of rock’s all-time mismatches, Jimi Hendrix was the wrong choice as the opening act on their 1967 tour. Forget about that. It hasn’t stopped The Monkees’ songs from standing the test of time and becoming classic guitar pop hits.

Important Dates In The Life Of The Monkees:

On this day in music
13 Mar 2023
American drummer Jim Gordon, died in prison at the age of 77. He was one of the most requested session drummers in the late 1960s and 1970s. Gordon co-wrote Layla with Eric Clapton, worked with The Everly Brothers, The Monkees, The Beach Boys, George Harrison, (All Things Must Pass), John Lennon (Imagine), The Carpenters, Traffic, Glen Campbell, (Wichita Lineman), Steely Dan, Jackson Browne, Frank Zappa and many others. A diagnosed schizophrenic, Gordon murdered his mother on June 3, 1983, by pounding her head with a hammer. He was sentenced to sixteen years-to-life in prison in 1984.
12 Nov 2022
American woodwindist and session musician, Gene Cipriano died at the age of 94. Known familiarly as "Cip" he played on hundreds of recording sessions and recorded music for numerous television shows including Batman, The Flintstones, M*A*S*H*, Mission Impossible, Star Trek, The Simpsons, and American Dad. He played on West Side Story, and performed the saxophone part for the character played by Tony Curtis in the film Some Like It Hot. Cipriano was also a noted session musician in Los Angeles, as a member of "The Wrecking Crew" and played on many pop hits of the 1960s and 1970s, including those by The Beach Boys and The Monkees. Other musicians with whom he worked included Frank Sinatra, Neil Diamond, Tony Bennett, Frank Zappa and Lady Gaga.
10 Dec 2021
American musician, songwriter, actor, producer, Mike Nesmith died from heart failure at his home in Carmel Valley, California age 78. He was best known as a member of the pop rock band the Monkees and co-star of the TV series The Monkees (1966–1968). His song writing credits include ‘Different Drum’, which became a hit for Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys. After the break-up of the Monkees, Nesmith continued his successful song writing and performing career, first with the seminal country rock group the First National Band, with whom he had a top-40 hit, ‘Joanne’.
19 Aug 2019
American bass guitarist Larry Taylor died age 77. He is best known as a member of Canned Heat from 1967. Before joining Canned Heat he had been a session bassist for The Monkees and Jerry Lee Lewis. He was the younger brother of Mel Taylor, long-time drummer of The Ventures.
21 Feb 2019
American musician Peter Tork died age 77. He was diagnosed with a rare form of tongue cancer in 2009. The Monkees were brought together for an American sitcom TV series in 1966. Best known as the keyboardist and bass guitarist, they had the 1967 UK & US No.1 single 'I'm A Believer' plus other hits including 'Last Train to Clarksville', 'Pleasant Valley Sunday', and 'Daydream Believer'.
8 Aug 2017
American singer, guitarist, songwriter, television host, and actor Glen Campbell died in Nashville, Tennessee at the age of 81. He became a patient at an Alzheimer's long-term care and treatment facility in 2014. Campbell released more than 70 studio albums and sold 45 million records worldwide. His hits include: 'By the Time I Get to Phoenix', 'Wichita Lineman', 'Galveston' and 'Rhinestone Cowboy'. His guitar playing can be heard on ‘Strangers in the Night’ by Frank Sinatra, ‘You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'‘ by The Righteous Brothers and ‘I'm a Believer’ by The Monkees.
28 Mar 2013
American rock guitarist and session musician Hugh McCracken died of leukemia in New York City at the age of 70. He appeared on many recordings by Steely Dan, Donald Fagen, Billy Joel, Roland Kirk, Roberta Flack, B. B. King, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, The Monkees, Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, James Taylor, Phoebe Snow, Bob Dylan, Carly Simon, Graham Parker, Eric Carmen, Loudon Wainwright III, Aretha Franklin, Van Morrison, The Four Seasons, Hall and Oates, Gary Wright and Andy Gibb. Because of such high demand for his work, McCracken declined Paul McCartney's invitation to help form his new band, Wings after appearing on his 1971 album Ram.
7 Mar 2012
Sales of albums by The Monkees soared following the death of singer Davy Jones. 'Best Of The Monkees' re-entered the Billboard album chart at No.20 with sales of over 17,000 units.
29 Feb 2012
Davy Jones, the Manchester-born lead singer with 60s band The Monkees, died aged 66, in his sleep at his home in Florida after suffering a massive heart attack. Jones who appeared as a teenager in soap opera Coronation Street, playing Ena Sharples's grandson was also a former apprentice jockey in Newmarket. Jones remained a keen horseman all his life, winning his first race in England as a jockey in 1996.
17 Jan 2011
American music publisher, talent manager, and songwriter Don Kirshner who helped launch the careers of Neil Diamond, Bobby Darin, Carole King, Neil Sedaka, The Monkees, The Archies and Kansas, died of heart failure at the age of 76. Kirshner was hired by the producers of the Monkees to provide hit-worthy songs to accompany the television program and also served as a music consultant for almost two dozen TV series between 1966 and 1977.
29 Jul 2010
American trumpet player and session musician Roy Caton died aged 83. As a session player in Hollywood recording studios Caton worked with Nancy Sinatra, The Monkees, (The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees), Harpers Bizarre, (Feelin' Groovy), The Byrds, (The Notorious Byrd Brothers), Love, (Forever Changes), The Righteous Brothers and The Beach Boys on (Pet Sounds)
7 Oct 2009
Monkees vocalist Davy Jones ruled out ever reuniting with his former band mates after launching a scathing attack on each of his old pals in The National Enquirer. "It's not a case of dollars and cents. It's a case of satisfying yourself. I don't have anything to prove. The Monkees proved it for me."
31 Jan 2009
Dewey Martin drummer with The Dillards and Buffalo Springfield died aged 68. The Canadian musician had the 1967 US No.17 hit single 'For What It's Worth' with Buffalo Springfield as well as working with The Monkees. In 1971, Martin retired from the music industry to become a car mechanic.
19 Sep 2008
American drummer Earl Palmer died. Worked with The Beach Boys, Little Richard (‘Tutti Frutti’), Frank Sinatra, Ike and Tina Turner (‘River Deep, Mountain High’), The Monkees, Fats Domino (‘I'm Walkin’), Neil Young, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, The Righteous Brothers (‘You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin’), and Randy Newman, Tom Waits, Bonnie Raitt, Tim Buckley, Little Feat and Elvis Costello.
19 Jan 2008
American songwriter and singer John Stewart, who wrote the Monkees 1967 hit 'Daydream Believer' died aged 68 after he suffered a brain aneurysm in San Diego. Stewart was a member of folk group The Kingston Trio and went on to record more than 45 solo albums with his biggest solo success being a US top five single, 'Gold', in 1979.
17 Sep 2006
American guitarist Al Casey died aged 69. Casey is noted for his work as a session musician and as a member of the Wrecking Crew and worked with The Beach Boys, Phil Spector, Elvis Presley, Glen Campbell, The Association, The Monkees, Johnny Cash, Simon And Garfunkel, 5th Dimension, Harry Nilsson, The Partridge Family, Frank Sinatra, and Nancy Sinatra.
10 Nov 1997
American session guitarist Tommy Tedesco died of lung cancer aged 67. Described by "Guitar Player" magazine as the most recorded guitarist in history recording with The Beach Boys, Everly Brothers, Supremes, The Monkees, The Association, Barbra Streisand, Elvis Presley, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Zappa, Sam Cooke, Cher and Nancy and Frank Sinatra. And played on many TV themes including Bonanza, The Twilight Zone, M*A*S*H and Batman.
15 Jan 1994
American singer songwriter Harry Nilsson died in his sleep of heart failure after spending the previous day in the recording studio. He recorded 'Everybody's Talkin' from the film Midnight Cowboy and wrote hits for Three Dog Night and The Monkees. Had the UK & US No.1 single with his version of the Badfinger Evans & Ham song 'Without You.' When John Lennon and Paul McCartney held a press conference in 1968 to announce the formation of Apple Corps, John was asked to name his favorite American artist. He replied, "Nilsson". Paul was then asked to name his favorite American group. He replied, "Nilsson".
22 Jun 1988
American session guitarist Jesse Ed Davis died of a heroin overdose after collapsing in a laundry room in Venice, California, aged 43. Worked with Conway Twitty, The Monkees, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Leonard Cohen, Keith Moon, Jackson Browne, Steve Miller, Harry Nilsson and Taj Mahal.
22 Feb 1986
MTV dedicated a full 22 hour broadcast to The Monkees, showing all 45 episodes of the original The Monkees TV series. The show first aired on NBC for two seasons, from September 12, 1966, to March 25, 1968. The series follows the adventures of four young men trying to make a name for themselves as a rock 'n roll band.
14 Feb 1986
Frank Zappa appeared on an episode of the television series Miami Vice. Zappa portrayed a crime boss Mario Fuente, a major drug dealer trafficking in "weasel dust." In 1963, before he was even famous, Zappa appeared on the variety program The Steve Allen Show, showing how ordinary objects, like bicycles, could be played as percussion instruments. He later made a cameo on the Monkees' TV show.
21 Nov 1970
The Partridge Family started a three week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with 'I Think I Love You'. The song was featured in the first episode of the Partridge Family TV series, made by the same company that made The Monkees.
10 Oct 1970
Neil Diamond went to No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Cracklin' Rosie', his first No.1 as an artist. Diamond who had spent his early career as a songwriter in the Brill Building, wrote the 1966 No.1 hit 'I'm A Believer' for The Monkees.
30 Dec 1969
Peter Tork quit The Monkees buying himself out of his contract which left him broke. He went on to form a group called Release and played banjo on George Harrison's soundtrack to the film Wonderwall.
30 Nov 1969
The Monkees made what would be their last live appearance for 15 years when they played at The Oakland Coliseum, California.
19 Jul 1969
Special guests on this week's Johnny Cash ABC television music variety show included, Ed Ames, Roy Clark, The Monkees and Joni Mitchell. Cash introduced The Monkees by playing the first verse of their hit 'Last Train To Clarksville' with The Monkees on backing vocals, The Monkees then performed a version of the Johnny Cash song 'Everybody Loves a Nut', with Cash.
20 Nov 1968
The Monkees film 'Head' opened in six US cities. Reviews were harsh and the picture was a box office disaster.
6 Nov 1968
The Monkees' three quarter of a million dollar feature film, Head opened in New York City. Instead of being aimed at their target audience of teeny boppers, the film contained a dark theme about the manipulation of the group with walk-on appearances by inappropriate guests and scenes of Vietnam War atrocities. Reviews were harsh and the picture was a box office disaster.
1 Nov 1968
George Harrison released his first solo album, 'Wonderwall Music' on the Apple label. The songs which were mostly Harrison instrumentals, featured Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr and an unaccredited banjo contribution by Peter Tork of The Monkees.
14 Sep 1968
The first episode of the comic strip 'The Archies' was aired on US TV. The recording group had contributions from Ron Dante, Andy Kim, Jeff Barry and others. Rock mogul, Don Kirshner (who also brought us The Monkees) was put in charge of the studio group. The following year The Archies started a eight-week run at No.1 on the UK singles chart with 'Sugar Sugar,' becoming the longest running One Hit Wonder in the UK.
12 Jul 1968
Mickey Dolenz from The Monkees married Samantha Juste who he met when working in the UK on the BBC TV show Top Of The Pops.
25 Mar 1968
After 58 episodes, the final Monkees TV show aired on NBC in the United States. Since its initial run, almost every major cable network has aired re-runs of the show, including a popular stint on CBS from 1969-1972.
9 Feb 1968
Hal Cone former manager of The Monkees and Head of Jones Records was found guilty of theft, forgery, receiving stolen property and conspiracy.
30 Dec 1967
The Beatles scored their 15th US No.1 with ‘Hello Goodbye’, Gladys Knight and the Pips were at No.2 with 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine' and The Monkees at No.3 with 'Daydream Believer'
2 Dec 1967
The Monkees album, ‘Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones Ltd’ went to No.1 on the US album chart. It was their fourth album to sell over a million copies, following ‘The Monkees’, ‘More Of The Monkees’ and ‘Headquarters’.
20 Oct 1967
Davy Jones of The Monkees opened his own 'Zilch', boutique in Greenwich Village, New York City.
14 Oct 1967
The second series of The Monkees TV show started on BBC TV in the UK. Plans for the shows to be screened in colour were dropped, so it was aired in black & white.
4 Aug 1967
A female Monkees fan stowed away on the bands plane between shows in Minneapolis and St Louis. The girl's father threatened to bring charges for transporting a minor across state lines.
9 Jul 1967
On a US tour supporting The Monkees, The Jimi Hendrix Experience appeared at the Convention Hall, Miami, Florida. After it became plainly apparent that the group is not suited to teenybopper audiences, the tour’s promoter Dick Clark and Hendrix’s manager Chas Chandler concoct a story saying that the conservative Daughters of the American Revolution group had complained at Jimi’s act and so the Experience left the tour after just six shows.
8 Jul 1967
The Monkees began a 29-date tour with The Jimi Hendrix Experience as support act. Hendrix was dropped after six shows after being told his act was not suitable for their teenybopper audience.
3 Jul 1967
A private party was held at the Speakeasy Club in London, England for The Monkees. Guests included: John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Dusty Springfield, Eric Clapton, Lulu and all the members from Manfred Mann, The Who and Procol Harum.
13 May 1967
The Monkees second album More Of The Monkees, went to No.1 on the UK charts. In 1967 only four albums reached No.1; The Sound Of Music which spent 17 weeks at No.1, The Beatles Sgt. Pepper, 25 weeks at No.1 and The Monkees first and second albums spent 9 weeks at No.1.
5 Apr 1967
Monkees fans walked from London's Marble Arch to the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square to protest Davy Jones' planned call-up. Jones was exempted because he was deemed responsible for supporting his father.
21 Feb 1967
Pink Floyd started their first sessions at the EMI Studios, St. John's Wood, London on their debut album The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, working on the song 'Matilda Mother'. While Pink Floyd were recording their album with former Beatles engineer Norman Smith, The Beatles themselves were working in the studio next door, recording 'Fixing A Hole' for their Sgt. Pepper album. Micky Dolenz from The Monkees attended the mixing session during the day.
13 Feb 1967
The Monkees announced that from now on they would be playing on their own recordings instead of session musicians.
11 Feb 1967
The Monkees set a new record when their second album, More Of The Monkees jumped from No.122 to the top of the US chart. The album then stayed in pole position for eighteen weeks.
10 Feb 1967
The Beatles recorded the orchestral build-up for the middle and end of 'A Day in the Life'. At the Beatles' request, the orchestra members arrived in full evening dress along with novelty items. One violinist wore a red clown's nose, while another, a fake gorilla's paw on his bow hand. Others were wearing funny hats and other assorted novelties. The recording was filmed for a possible 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' television special which was ultimately abandoned. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Mike Nesmith from The Monkees and Donovan also attended the session.
4 Feb 1967
The Monkees self-titled debut album started a seven-week run at No.1 on the UK chart.
22 Jan 1967
The Monkees performed live for the very first time at The Cow Palace, San Francisco to a sell-out crowd.
20 Jan 1967
The Monkees TV show was shown for the first time in the UK. The series followed the adventures of four young men (the Monkees) trying to make a name for themselves as rock 'n roll singers. They went on to sell more than 75 million records worldwide and had international hits, including 'Last Train to Clarksville', 'Pleasant Valley Sunday', 'Daydream Believer', and 'I'm a Believer'.
19 Jan 1967
The Monkees were at No.1 on the UK singles with 'I'm A Believer', the group's only UK No.1. The song composed by Neil Diamond had 1,051,280 advance orders, and went gold within two days of release. It is one of the fewer than forty all-time singles to have sold 10 million (or more) physical copies worldwide.
31 Dec 1966
The Monkees started a 7-week run at No.1 on the US singles charts with the Neil Diamond song 'I'm A Believer'. Also No.1 in the UK in 1967.
3 Dec 1966
The Monkees made their live debut at the International Arena, Honolulu. The massive success of the TV series and its spin-off records had created intense pressure to mount a touring version of the group.
12 Nov 1966
The Monkees debut album started a 13-week run at No.1 on the US album chart, selling over 3 million copies in three months.
5 Nov 1966
The Monkees were at the top of the Billboard singles chart with ‘Last Train To Clarksville’, the group’s first No. 1. Bobby Hart who co-wrote the song got the idea for the lyrics when he turned on the radio and heard the end of The Beatles' 'Paperback Writer'. He thought Paul McCartney was singing "Take the last train", and decided to use the line when he found out McCartney was actually singing 'Paperback Writer'.
24 Oct 1966
Newsweek interviewed The Monkees. They are asked how the music is created. Singer Davy Jones tells them, "This isn't a rock 'n' roll group. This is an act."
12 Sep 1966
N.B.C. aired the first episode of The Monkees TV show in the US. The series ran for a total of 58 episodes.
10 Jun 1966
The Monkees first recording sessions took place. These sessions featured members of the Wrecking Crew, a group of studio musicians in Los Angeles but proved to be unsuccessful.
31 May 1966
Filming began on The Monkees first TV series. The Monkees' first single, 'Last Train to Clarksville' was released in August 1966, just weeks prior to the TV broadcast debut. In conjunction with the first broadcast of the television show on September 12, 1966 on the NBC television network, NBC and Columbia had a major hit on their hands.
17 Jan 1966
NBC-TV in the US bought The Monkees series, placing it on their 1966 autumn schedule. The series centred on the adventures of The Monkees, a struggling rock band from Los Angeles, California and introduced a number of innovative new-wave film techniques to television.
14 Jan 1966
David Jones changed his name to David Bowie to avoid confusion with Davy Jones from The Monkees, just in time for the release of his single, 'Can't Help Thinking About Me'. He would later say that he chose "Bowie" because he liked that "big American bear-killin' knife."
9 Sep 1965
US newspaper The Hollywood reporter ran the following advertisement; 'Madness folk & roll musicians, singers wanted for acting roles in new TV show. Parts for 4 insane boys. The Monkees were born. 437 people applied for the job.
20 Aug 1965
Davy Jones & The Lower Third released the single 'You've Got a Habit of Leaving' the last song that David Bowie (born David Jones), released before changing his name to avoid confusion with Davy Jones of The Monkees, and the first of two singles that he recorded with The Lower Third after leaving his previous band, The Manish Boys.
2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Richard Maselli

    January 19, 2020 at 5:21 pm

    The Monkees paved the way for MTV

  2. john mcclymont

    March 2, 2020 at 11:50 pm

    the monkees also davy jones – solo will always be timeless and never forgotten .

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