February 29th, 2012
Davy Jones, the boyish and cute frontman of The Monkees, died today (Feb. 29) of an apparent heart attack in Florida, according to TMZ.
He was 66.
If you grew up in the late ‘50s and ‘60s, you’ll intimately know him and his colleagues, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork. Together, they were the frisky funsters on TV, on the radio, in the concert venues.
They were pre-fab rock stars, mounted in the aftermath of The Beatles (“A Hard Day’s Night”), who famously starred on an NBC series and sang a soundtrack of growing-up songs that topped the record charts. “Hey, Hey We’re the Monkees,” “Daydream Believer,” “Last Train to Clarksville,” “I’m a Believer.”
I do — with an especially fond memory of Davy.
The Monkees gave their first-ever concert at Blaisdell Arena, then the Honolulu International Center, to launch a national tour that would have the kids going gaga and screeching, a la Elvis and Beatles style, in one wave of the pop music phenom — the manufactured act conducted with auditions of suitable young ones with potential box office appeal.
This concert was a screamfest; I reviewed it for The Honolulu Advertiser; the show was, like hundreds other since, a Tom Moffatt Production.
To my amazement, a few days after the Hawaii concert, my review ran in a double-truck advertisement spread, with every word intact, in Variety, the show biz bible. It was incredible and humbling, one of my career highlights to be so "quoted."
Certainly, The Monkees were off and running.
I had earlier interviewed them, in a suite at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, and they were as goofy and nuts as their TV personas.
Davy was the mop-topped lead singer, his cuteness and boyishness targeting pubescent teen girls.
Unlike the others who played instruments, Davy rattled and thumped a tambourine a la Mick Jagger. He didn’t need instrumental skills; his slight frame and British accent (he was from Manchester, England) became the music that connected with fans.
OK, The Monkees’ success ran its course, but two seasons and 58 episodes weren't for naught.
“I’m a Believer,” “Last Train to Clarksville” and “Daydream Believer” all were No. 1 hits on Billboard. Admit it, you bought 'em and played 'em and sang along.
The tunes would come to signify a period of growing up; “I’m a Believer” was featured in the original “Shrek” film, Neil Diamond continues to sing the same song he wrote when he was still an anonymous songwriter, a number of other acts have covered The Monkees’ music (think Smash Mouth).
Davy was theatrical, too, earning a Tony nomination in 1963 for portraying the Artful Dodger in the musical “Oliver!” and later played Jesus in a London mounting of “Godspell.”
In retrospect, you might forgive The Monkees for that pretty awful film, “Head,” but you can’t forget the hysteria and hypnosis of their original hits.
Mickey Dolenz later toured Hawaii in the musical “Grease.”
Do you have recollections of The Monkees in Hawaii?