I just found out Davy Jones died this morning. What a bummer. Apparently, the culprit was a heart attack. He was only 66. 66! Christ, that's young.
Well, I'm not going to sugarcoat things. My fave Monkee was Michael Nesmith, the tall and handsome intellectual with the ragged bobble hat. Jones, on the other hand, always came off a little too anxious and cheeky. Of course, that was his role, wasn't it? He was the only actual Englishman in a group specifically designed to scoop up all the disaffected Beatlemaniacs who didn't like their heroes getting all stoned and arty during their Rubber Soul to Revolver to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band phase. And, boy oh boy, did he never let us forget it.
When Monkee Mania redux swept across America in the mid-1980s, I was an 11-year-old brat glued to Nickelodeon night after night. I absolutely loved watching those reruns. But what I quickly figured out was that Jones was the quartet's song-and-dance man, and whatever song he was dancing to was usually a New Vaudeville Band-style dancehall sing-along bursting with cheeseball brass and woodwinds. Little did I know at the time but this kind of stuff was Jones' bread and butter. He entered show business as a child, achieving a modicum of success as a stage actor before joining The Monkees. He even recorded a handful of teen-idol singles for the Colpix label in 1965.
The song-and-dance routine Jones is most remembered for is the "Daydream Believer" video, which MTV aired just about every hour in 1986 and '87. It is pure pop perfection: smooth, innocent and forever young. But his greatest routine -- one which I didn't see until many years later, during my cult-film college years -- appeared in The Monkees' 1968 psychedelic satire Head (Frank Zappa! Jack Nicholson!! Dennis Hopper!!!) Dressed to the nines, replete with swinging tails, Jones belts out the obnoxiously punchy "Daddy's Song" while hamming it up to the point of grotesque self-parody. With a gigantic grin on his face and some of the most ludicrously stiff moves this side of Native American-era Cher, he takes a massive crap all over the band's celebrity and his role in it. Afterwards, he bumps into Zappa, who says, "That song was pretty white." Jones replies, "Well, so am I. What can I tell you?" How many levels of pop irony are we dealing with here? Utter genius -- and really quite punk.
After the group disbanded in 1970, and when he wasn't involved in one of their myriad reunions, Jones remained active in theatre, television, film, etc. He also found time to sire four kids and burn through three marriages. His latest wife, Jessica Pacheco-Jones, is a thirtysomething sex bomb and professional Flamenco dancer. Man, what a life.
R.I.P., Daydream Believer. Never mind what all them smelly hippies said about The Monkees back in the day. You guys are one of the greatest pop bands EVER.