Sundazed Music is saddened to learn of the death early this morning of Davy Jones, the vivacious frontman for the Monkees. Jones suffered a heart attack in Martin County, Fla. and died after being taken to a local hospital.
Davy Jones, along with bandmates Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork, were chosen from a legendary Hollywood casting call to play the parts of the Monkees, a band cut from similar cloth as the Beatles. The Monkees’ meteoric rise to fame, like teen idol Ricky Nelson before them, was made possible by a television show The Monkees, which turned an entire new generation on to their antics and their music. The show was loosely based on the Beatles’ 1964 film, A Hard Day’s Night.
The Monkees’ first single, “Last Train To Clarksville,” hit Number One on the U.S. charts in September, 1966, the same month the TV show debuted on NBC. The group went on to score many hits over the next three years, including “I’m A Believer,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” “I’m Not Your Stepping Stone,” “Valleri” and “Daydream Believer.” The latter song was Jones at his best, drawing on-air raves from hip disc jockeys such as San Francisco’s “Big Daddy” Tom Donahue. The Monkees would star in Bob Rafelson’s zany 1968 film Head alongside Frank Zappa and Jack Nicholson. The Monkees’ hit “Stepping Stone” would be covered by no less than Britain’s Sex Pistols.
Davy Jones was born on December 30, 1945 in Manchester, England and was a child star on long-running British TV soap opera Coronation Street as well as playing the Artful Dodger in London’s West End theatre production of Lionel Bart’s musical Oliver. Small in stature, Jones also trained as a jockey. But it was while watching from the wings of the first U.S. appearance of the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show in early 1964 that Jones’ career path was laid out clearly before him. As teenage girls screamed for these shaggy-haired rock ‘n’ roll heroes, Jones said to himself, “I want a piece of that.”
The Monkees at their peak rivaled the popularity of the Fab Four, themselves. By the time they disbanded in 1971, the Monkees were down to only two: Jones and Micky Dolenz, who would reform in a different configuration in the ’80s with songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart as Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart. The original Monkees would reunite in various permutations periodically over the ensuing years, the last of which took place only last summer. Davy Jones is survived by his wife Jessica and four children from previous marriages.