Remembering Davy Jones
Davy Jones, founding member of The Monkees and a Tony-nominated Broadway performer, passed away on February 29, 2012. He is survived by his wife Jessica and four daughters.
David Jones was born on December 30th, 1945 to parents Harry and Doris in Manchester, England. When Davy’s mother passed away in 1959, school held no further interest for him and he looked into becoming an apprentice jockey. By the following year, Davy found work at Basil Foster’s New Market Stables. Simultaneously, Davy received some acting offers and during 1960 took part in a BBC television play called June Evening.
In 1961, Davy traveled to Leeds to tape a BBC radio play, There Is A Happy Land. Following this, a television appearance as Colin on the television soap opera Coronation Street led Davy to pursue acting fulltime. But it was the stage (rather than the screen) that Jones initially conquered. Through boss Basil Foster, Davy Jones acquired several theatrical contacts and in 1962 landed the part of Michael in a touring company of Peter Pan. During this show’s six-week run, co-star Jane Asher (later the companion of Paul McCartney) coached Jones on his accent in preparation for his next big role as the Artful Dodger in Oliver!
On May 7th, 1962, Davy opened as the Dodger at London’s New Theatre. By November, Producer David Merrick had decided to integrate Davy into the Broadway production of Oliver! Davy made his Broadway debut on December 17th at New York City’s Imperial Theatre. This run became a runaway success and the following year, Davy snagged a Tony Award nomination for his role in Oliver!
Davy’s work in Oliver! continued throughout 1964 and early ’65 (including a legendary promotional appearance alongside the Beatles on television’s Ed Sullivan Show). After his Broadway run, Davy took his role on the road with stops in Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee and Chicago. By year’s end, Davy signed a recording contract with Colpix Records (a subsidiary of Columbia Pictures). His first recording session for Colpix took place the week before Christmas. Produced by Jack Lewis in New York, Davy cut “Dream Girl” and “Take Me To Paradise” (which both appeared on his Colpix debut single in early ’65).
Soon after leaving Oliver!, Jones joined the cast of Pickwick and also signed a deal with Columbia-Screen Gems for film and television work. “One of the pilots they offered me was great and who knows, I might yet do it,” recalled Davy at the time. “It’s about a policeman and a leprechaun. Only the policeman can see the leprechaun. He gets into situations and I get him out of them sort of like Bewitched. Then they shelved that for awhile and decided that the thing to do was to write a brand new series idea.”
When Pickwick hit Los Angeles’ Music Center in mid-’65, Jones further pursued his recording career, taping an album for Colpix called David Jones. This long player spawned a minor hit single, “What Are We Going To Do?,” which reached the charts in August and set Jones up for a pilot then called The Monkeys. Already contracted to Columbia Pictures-Screen Gems (the production entity for the show), the script was written around Davy and soon after, three other actor/musicians were cast to fill the remaining roles.
In November 1965, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork, Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz were cast as The Monkees to film a pilot television program for creator/producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider’s Raybert Productions.
The Monkees series was sold to the NBC network in February 1966 and began shooting at the end of May. It debuted on September 12, 1966 and ran for two seasons. Fifty-eight half-hour programs were produced over an 18-month period, and the show won two Emmy awards in 1967. In 1968, Davy starred with The Monkees in the legendary cult-film Head, written by Jack Nicholson. The film’s soundtrack is notable for Davy’s cover of Harry Nilsson’s “Daddy Song,” which became a fan favorite.
Their success on record outstripped even their television exposure with five platinum albums and a half dozen gold singles. Davy sang lead on their iconic #1 "Daydream Believer," and the follow up #3 "Valleri." Davy also took the lead on the hit "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You," which reached #2 on the Billboard charts. The group’s second album, MORE OF THE MONKEES, spent 70 weeks on the Billboard charts, and they had four number one albums in the span of just one year. They also held the number one spot on the Billboard album chart for 31 consecutive weeks.
Along with sporadic appearances with The Monkees over the years, Davy appeared frequently on television including a legendary episode of THE BRADY BUNCH, where he performed his solo single, “Girl."
The original incarnation of the group disbanded in 1970, but were reunited on television and on tour throughout the decades. In 1986, MTV ran a marathon of Monkees TV episodes, igniting a fevered revival resulting in a sold-out arena tour and renewed record sales. At one point during this period, seven of the group’s legendary albums sat on the Billboard charts at once. This new generation of Monkees fans helped make the group’s most recent tour, a 45th anniversary show highlighting hits and hidden gems from their vast catalog, another sold-out success.
A Message From Kevin Gore, President & CEO, Rhino Entertainment
The Rhino family is profoundly saddened to hear the unfortunate news of Davy Jones' passing.
Davy has left behind an immeasurable mark on music and pop culture history. As a member of The Monkees, Davy has brightened people's lives for nearly 50 years. From their debut and the ensuing Monkee-mania of the '60s, to their extraordinary revival in the '80s, to 2011's heralded reunion tour, it's clear that Davy and his music will continue to make an impact for many, many years.
Davy will be truly missed. We hope you join us in remembering the life of a true pop icon.