Mon­kees’ Jones dies in Florida at age 66

The Washington Times Daily - - Life - BY MATT SE­DEN­SKY

DWEST PALM BEACH, FLA avy Jones, a for­mer ac­tor turned singer who helped pro­pel the TV rock band the Mon­kees to the top of the pop charts and into rock ‘n’ roll his­tory, died Wed­nes­day in Florida. He was 66.

Mr. Jones, lead singer of the 1960s group that was as­sem­bled as an Amer­i­can ver­sion of the Bea­tles, died of a mas­sive heart at­tack in In­diantown where he lived, his publi­cist He­len Ken­sick con­firmed.

Mr. Jones was a jockey-turnedac­tor who soared to fame in 1965 when he joined the Mon­kees and they em­barked on an ad­ven­ture that in­cluded a wildly pop­u­lar U.S. tele­vi­sion show. Mr. Jones sang lead vo­cals on songs like “I Wanna Be Free” and “Day­dream Be­liever.”

The band was as­sem­bled as an Amer­i­can ver­sion of the Bea­tles, with its per­son­nel de­signed to be the in­stant stars of an Amer­i­can TV se­ries seek­ing to evoke the Bea­tles, then al­ready fa­mous for their mu­sic and such films as “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Help!”

Au­di­tions for the Mon­kees were held in the fall of 1965, at­tract­ing some 500 ap­pli­cants. Mr. Jones — who was born Dec. 30, 1945, in Manch­ester, Eng­land — had stylishly long hair and a Bri­tish ac­cent that helped with his se­lec­tion. He would go on to achieve heart­throb sta­tus in the United States.

Nonethe­less, mu­si­cal abil­ity wasn’t para­mount in the cast­ing de­ci­sions. While Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork had some mu­si­cal ex­pe­ri­ence, Mickey Dolenz had been a child ac­tor, as had Mr. Jones, along with be­ing a jockey in his na­tive Eng­land.

In Au­gust 1966, the Bea­tles per­formed in San Fran­cisco, play­ing their last live set for a pay­ing au­di­ence. The same month, the Mon­kees re­leased their first al­bum, in­tro­duc­ing the world to the group that would star in the NBC se­ries when it pre­miered in Septem­ber 1966.

The first sin­gle, “Last Train to Clarksville,” be­came a No. 1 hit. And the show caught on with au­di­ences, fea­tur­ing hel­ter-skel­ter com­edy in­spired as much by the Marx Broth­ers as the Bea­tles.

It was a shrewd case of cross-plat­form pro­mo­tion. As David Bian­culli noted in his Dic­tionary of Telelit­er­acy, “The show’s self- con­tained mu­sic videos, clear fore­run­ners of MTV, pro­pelled the group’s f irst seven sin­gles to en­vi­able po­si­tions of the pop charts: three num­ber ones, two num­ber twos, two num­ber threes.”

And though ini­tially the Mon­kees weren’t al­lowed to play their own in­stru­ments, they were sup­ported by top-flight tal­ent: Ca­role King and

Gerry Gof­fin wrote “Pleas­ant Val­ley Sun­day,” and Neil Di­a­mond penned “I’m a Be­liever.”

Mu­si­cians who played on their records in­cluded Billy Pre­ston (who only later played with the Bea­tles), Glen Camp­bell, Leon Rus­sell, Ry Cooder and Neil Young.

Af­ter two sea­sons, the TV se­ries had flamed out and was can­celed in the sum­mer of 1968. But the Mon­kees re­mained a nostal­gia act for decades.

Ac­cord­ing to the Mon­kees web­site, Mon­kees.com, Mr. Jones left the band in late 1970. In the sum­mer of 1971, he recorded a solo hit “Rainy Jane” and made a se­ries of ap­pear­ances on Amer­i­can va­ri­ety and tele­vi­sion shows, in­clud­ing “Love Amer­i­can Style” and “The Brady Bunch.”

Mr. Jones played him­self in a widely pop­u­lar Brady episode, which aired in late 1971. In the episode, Mar­cia Brady, pres­i­dent of her school’s Davy Jones fan club, promised she could get him to sing at a school dance.

Amid lin­ger­ing nostal­gia for the Mon­kees, by the mid-1980s, Mr. Jones teamed up with for­mer Mon­kees Mr. Tork and Mr. Dolenz for a re­union tour. Their pop­u­lar­ity prompted MTV to re-air “The Mon­kees” se­ries, in­tro­duc­ing the group to a new au­di­ence.

In 1987, Mr. Jones, Mr. Tork and Mr. Dolenz recorded a new al­bum, “Pool It.” Two years later, the group re­ceived a star on the Hol­ly­wood Walk of Fame.

In the late 1990s, the group filmed a spe­cial called “Hey, Hey, It’s the Mon­kees.”

Mr. Jones is sur­vived by his wife, Jes­sica.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Davy Jones, here in 2009, rose to fame in 1965 as a mem­ber of the formed-forTV rock band called the Mon­kees.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The Mon­kees, here in 1966, were from left: Davy Jones, Peter Tork, Mickey Dolenz and Mike Nesmith. Mr. Jones died Wed­nes­day at age 66 in In­diantown, Fla., where he lived. The rock band was as­sem­bled as an Amer­i­can ver­sion of the Bea­tles, with mem­bers of the Mon­kees groomed to be stars of an Amer­i­can TV se­ries of the same name.

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