Updated: September 15, 2022
IN MEMORY OF MUSICIAN DAVY JONES
David Thomas Jones (30 December 1945 – 29 February 2012) was an English singer-songwriter, musician, actor and businessman, best known as a member of the band the Monkees, and for starring in the TV series of the same name. His acting credits include a Tony-nominated performance as the Artful Dodger in the original London and Broadway productions of Oliver! as well as a guest star role in a hallmark episode of The Brady Bunch television show and later reprised parody film; Love, American Style; and My Two Dads. Jones is considered one of the great teen idols.
David Thomas Jones was born at 20 Leamington Street, Openshaw, Manchester, on 30 December 1945. His television acting debut was on the British television soap opera Coronation Street. He portrayed Colin Lomax, Ena Sharples' grandson, for one episode on 6 March 1961. He also appeared in the BBC police series Z-Cars. After the death of his mother from emphysema when he was 14 years old, Jones rejected acting in favour of a career as a jockey, apprenticing with Newmarket trainer Basil Foster. He dropped out of secondary school to begin his career in that field. This career was short-lived, however. Even though Foster believed Jones would be successful as a jockey, he encouraged his young protégé to take a rôle as the Artful Dodger in a production of Oliver! in London's West End, a move which changed Jones's life forever. In turn, Jones cared for Foster in his later years, bringing him to the United States and providing him financial support.
Foster was approached by a friend who worked in a theatre in the West End of London during casting for the musical Oliver!. Foster replied, "I've got the kid." Jones was cast and appeared to great acclaim as the Artful Dodger. He played the role in London and then on Broadway and was nominated for a Tony Award. On 9 February 1964, he appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show with Georgia Brown who was playing Nancy in the Broadway production of Oliver!. This was the same episode of the show in which the Beatles made their first appearance. Jones said of that night, "I watched the Beatles from the side of the stage, I saw the girls going crazy, and I said to myself, this is it, I want a piece of that."
Following his Ed Sullivan appearance, Jones signed a contract with Ward Sylvester of Screen Gems (then the television division of Columbia Pictures). A pair of American television appearances followed, as Jones received screen time in episodes of Ben Casey and The Farmer's Daughter.
Jones debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 in the week of 14 August 1965, with the single "What Are We Going To Do?" The 19-year-old singer was signed to Colpix Records, a label owned by Columbia. His debut album David Jones, on the same label, followed soon after (CP493). In 1967 the album was issued in the UK, in mono only, on the Pye Records label (NPL 18178).
From 1966 to 1971, Jones was a member of the Monkees, a pop-rock group formed expressly for a television show of the same name. With Screen Gems producing the series, Jones was shortlisted for auditions, as he was the only Monkee who was signed to a deal with the studio, but still had to meet producers Bob Rafelson's and Bert Schneider's standards. Jones sang lead vocals on many of the Monkees' recordings, including "I Wanna Be Free" and "Daydream Believer". The DVD release of the first season of the show contained commentary from the various bandmates. In Peter Tork's commentary, he stated that Jones was a good drummer and had the live performance lineups been based solely on playing ability, it should have been Tork on guitar, Mike Nesmith on bass, and Jones on drums, with Micky Dolenz taking the fronting role, rather than as it was done (with Nesmith on guitar, Tork on bass, and Dolenz on drums). Mostly playing tambourine or maracas, Jones filled in briefly for Tork on bass when he played keyboards.
The NBC television series the Monkees was popular, and remained in syndication. After the group disbanded in 1971, Jones reunited with Micky Dolenz as well as Monkees songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart in 1974 as a short-lived group called Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart.
A Monkees television show marathon ("Pleasant Valley Sunday") broadcast on 23 February 1986 by MTV resulted in a wave of Monkeemania not seen since the group's heyday. Jones reunited with Dolenz and Peter Tork from 1986 to 1989 to celebrate the band's renewed success and promote the 20th anniversary of the group. A new top 20 hit, "That Was Then, This Is Now" was released (though Jones did not perform on the song) as well as an album, Pool It!.
Monkees activity ceased until 1996 when Jones reunited with Dolenz, Tork and Michael Nesmith to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the band. The group released a new album entitled Justus, the first album since 1967's Headquarters that featured the band members performing all instrumental duties. It was the last time all four Monkees performed together.
In February 2011, Jones confirmed rumours of another Monkees reunion. "There's even talk of putting the Monkees back together again in the next year or so for a U.S. and UK tour," he told Disney's Backstage Pass newsletter. "You're always hearing all those great songs on the radio, in commercials, movies, almost everywhere." The tour (Jones's last) came to fruition entitled, An Evening with The Monkees: The 45th Anniversary Tour.
Jones is the next closest member of the Monkees (to Micky Dolenz) who had worked with the band since its inception. The exceptions have been the new songs recorded in 1986 and since his death
Jones and Ilene of "Sunday's Child" in the 1972 ABC special Pop Goes Davy Jones In 1967, Jones opened his first store, called Zilch, at 217 Thompson Street in the Greenwich Village section of New York City. The store sold "hip" clothing and accessories and also allowed customers to design their own clothes.
After the Monkees officially disbanded in 1971, Jones kept himself busy by establishing a New York City-style street market in Los Angeles, called "The Street" which cost approximately $40,000. He also collaborated with musical director Doug Trevor on a one-hour ABC television special entitled Pop Goes Davy Jones, which featured new artists The Jackson 5 and the Osmonds.
Bell Records, then having a string of hits with The Partridge Family, signed Jones to a somewhat inflexible solo record contract in 1971. Jones was not allowed to choose his songs or producer, resulting in several lacklustre and aimless records. His second solo album, Davy Jones (1971) was notable for the song "Rainy Jane", which reached No.52 in the Billboard charts. To promote the album, Jones performed "Girl" on an episode of The Brady Bunch entitled "Getting Davy Jones". Although the single sold poorly, the popularity of Jones's appearance on the show resulted in "Girl" becoming his best-remembered solo hit, even though it was not included in the album. The final single, "I'll Believe In You"/"Road to Love," was poorly received.
Thanks in part to reruns of The Monkees on Saturday mornings and in syndication, The Monkees Greatest Hits charted in 1976. The LP, issued by Arista (a subsidiary of Screen Gems), was actually a repackaging of a 1972 compilation LP called Refocus that had been issued by Arista's previous label imprint, Bell Records, also owned by Screen Gems.
Dolenz and Jones took advantage of this, joining ex-Monkees songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart to tour the United States. From 1975 to 1977, as the "Golden Hits of The Monkees" show ("The Guys who Wrote 'Em and the Guys who Sang 'Em!"), they successfully performed in smaller venues such as state fairs and amusement parks as well as making stops in Japan, Thailand, and Singapore, (though they couldn't use the Monkees name for legal reasons). They also released an album of new material appropriately as Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart, additionally a live album Concert in Japan was released by Capitol in 1976).
Mike Nesmith had not been interested in a reunion (due largely to his dislike of touring). Peter Tork claimed later that he had not been asked, which agreed with what one of the CD booklets stated that they simply didn't know where he was at that time. Although a Christmas single (credited to Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones and Peter Tork) was produced by former Monkees producer Chip Douglas and released on his own label in 1976. The single featured Douglas's and Howard Kaylan's "Christmas Is My Time of Year" (originally recorded by a 1960s supergroup, Christmas Spirit), with a B-side of Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" (Douglas released a remixed version of the single, with additional overdubbed instruments, in 1986). Tork also joined Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart on stage at Disneyland on 4 July 1976, and also joined Dolenz and Jones on stage at the Starwood in Hollywood, California, in 1977.
Jones with Maureen McCormick in the 1971 The Brady Bunch episode "Getting Davy Jones", in which he was a guest star Jones also continued his acting career after the Monkees, either as himself or another character.
He returned to theatre several times after the Monkees. 1977 saw him performing with former band-mate Micky Dolenz in a stage production of the Harry Nilsson musical The Point! in London at the Mermaid Theatre, playing and singing the starring role of "Oblio" to Dolenz' roles as the "Count's Kid" and the "Leafman", (according to the CD booklet). An original cast recording was made and released. The comedic chemistry of Jones and Dolenz proved so strong that the show was revived in 1978 with Nilsson inserting additional comedy for the two, plus two more songs, with one of them ("Gotta Get Up") being sung by Jones and Dolenz. The show was considered so good that it was planned to be revived again in 1979 but it proved cost prohibitive (source CD booklet "Harry Nilsson's The Point"). Jones also appeared in several productions of Oliver! as the Artful Dodger, and in 1989 toured the US portraying "Fagin".
He appeared in two episodes each of Love, American Style and My Two Dads. Jones also appeared in animated form as himself in 1972 in an hour-long episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies. Other television appearances include Sledge Hammer!, Boy Meets World, Hey Arnold!, The Single Guy (where he is mistaken for Dudley Moore) and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch in which he sang "Daydream Believer" to Sabrina (Melissa Joan Hart) as well as (I'll) Love You Forever.
Much more intriguingly, in 1995 Jones played in a notable episode of the sitcom "Boy Meets World". His two former fellow Monkees Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork had already appeared separately as characters on previous episodes. Suddenly in episode eight of the 3rd season (titled "Rave On"), all three former-Monkees turn up, although they did not play the Monkees per se (Davy Jones is "Reginald Fairfield", while Dolenz is "Gordy" and Tork is "Jedidiah Lawrence"). Much of the comedy of the show is thrown to Jones. However at the climax of the program the three are put on stage together and perform the classic Buddy Holly song "Not Fade Away", and the Temptations "My Girl". As an inside-joke, actor Dave Madden who'd played the manager on "The Partridge Family" cameoed as a manager who suddenly appeared wanting to handle the "new" group telling them that they "could be bigger than the Beatles". Purportedly both ex-Monkee Mike Nesmith and Pattie Boyd ex-wife of Beatle George Harrison were in attendance at the taping. (per IMDB entry "Boy Meets World" episode "Rave On").
In 2009, Jones made a cameo appearance as himself in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "SpongeBob SquarePants vs. The Big One" (his appearance was meant as a pun on the phrase "Davy Jones' Locker").
Despite his initial high profile after the end of the Monkees, Jones struggled to establish himself as a solo music artist. Glenn A. Baker, author of Monkeemania: The True Story of the Monkees, commented in 1986 that "for an artist as versatile and confident as (Davy) Jones, the relative failure of his post-Monkees activities is puzzling. For all his cocky predictions to the press about his future plans, Davy fell into a directionless heap when left to his own devices."
The continued popularity of his 1971 Brady Bunch appearance led to his being cast as himself in The Brady Bunch Movie. Jones sang his signature solo hit "Girl", with a grunge band providing backing, this time with middle-aged women swooning over him. Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork also appeared alongside Jones as judges.
On 21 June 1997, during a concert at the Los Angeles Coliseum, Jones joined U2's The Edge onstage for a karaoke performance of "Daydream Believer," which had become a fixture of the band's set during that year's PopMart Tour.
In 2001, Jones released Just Me, an album of his own songs, some written for the album and others originally on Monkees releases. In the early 2000s he was performing in the Flower Power Concert Series during Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival, a yearly gig he would continue until his death.
In April 2006, Jones recorded the single "Your Personal Penguin", written by children's author Sandra Boynton, as a companion piece to her new board book of the same title. On 1 November 2007, the Boynton book and CD titled Blue Moo was released and Jones is featured in both the book and CD, singing "Your Personal Penguin". In 2009, Jones released a collection of classics and standards from the 1940s through the 1970s entitled She.
In December 2008, Yahoo! Music named Jones the "Number 1 teen idol of all time". In 2009, Jones was rated second in a list of 10 best teen idols compiled by Fox News Channel.
Jones was married three times. In December 1968, he married Dixie Linda Haines, with whom he had been living. Their relationship had been kept out of the public eye until after the birth of their first child in October 1968. It caused a considerable backlash for Jones from his fans when it was finally made public. Jones later stated in Tiger Beat magazine, "I kept my marriage a secret because I believe stars should be allowed a private life." Jones and Haines had two daughters: Talia Elizabeth (born 2 October 1968) and Sarah Lee (born 3 July 1971). The marriage ended in 1975.
Jones married his second wife Anita Pollinger on 24 January 1981, and also had two daughters with her – Jessica Lillian (born 4 September 1981) and Annabel Charlotte (born 26 June 1988). They divorced in 1996 during the Monkees' 30th Anniversary reunion tour. Jones married for a third time on 30 August 2009 to Jessica Pacheco, 32 years his junior. This was Pacheco's third marriage as well. On 28 July 2011, Pacheco filed to divorce Jones in Miami-Dade County, Florida, but dropped the suit in October. They were still married when he died in February 2012. Pacheco was omitted from Jones' will, which he made before their marriage. His oldest daughter Talia, who he named his executrix, was granted by the court the unusual request that her father's will be sealed, on the basis that "planning documents and financial affairs as public opinion could have a material effect on his copyrights, royalties and ongoing goodwill."
In addition to his career as an entertainer, Jones' other great love was horses. Training as a jockey in his teens in the UK, he had intended to pursue a career as a professional race jockey. Jones later said, "I made one huge mistake. When the Monkees finished in 1969–70, I should have got away from Hollywood completely and got back into the racing game. Instead I waited another 10 years. Everyone makes mistakes in life and for me that was the biggest." He held an amateur rider's licence and rode in his first race at Newbury in Berkshire, England for renowned trainer Toby Balding.
On 1 February 1996, he won his first race, on Digpast, in the one-mile Ontario Amateur Riders Handicap at Lingfield in Surrey, England. Jones also had horse ownership interests in both the US and the UK, and served as a commercial spokesman for Colonial Downs racetrack in Virginia. Following his death, in tribute to Jones, Lingfield announced that the first two races on the card for 3 March 2012 would be renamed the "Hey Hey We're The Monkees Handicap" and the "In Memory of Davy Jones Selling Stakes" with successful horses in those races accompanied into the Winners' Enclosure by some of the Monkees' biggest hits. Plans were also announced to erect a plaque to commemorate Jones next to a Monkey Puzzle tree on the course.
On the morning of 29 February 2012, Jones went to tend to his 14 horses at a farm in Indiantown, Florida. After riding one of his favourite horses around the track, he complained of chest pains and difficulty breathing, and was rushed to Martin Memorial South Hospital in Stuart, Florida, where he was pronounced dead of a severe heart attack resulting from arteriosclerosis.
On Wednesday, 7 March 2012, a private funeral service was held at Holy Cross Catholic parish in Indiantown, Florida. To avoid drawing attention from the grieving family, the three surviving Monkees did not attend. Instead, the group attended memorial services in New York City, as well as organizing their own private memorial in Los Angeles along with Jones' family and close friends. Additionally, a public memorial service was held on 10 March 2012 in Beavertown, Pennsylvania, near a church Jones had purchased for future renovation.
On Monday 12 March, a private memorial service was held in his home town of Openshaw, Manchester, at Lees Street Congregational Church, where Jones performed as a child in church plays. Jones' wife and daughters travelled to England to join his relatives based there for the service, and placed his ashes on his parents' graves for a time.
The news of Jones' death triggered a surge of Internet traffic, causing sales of the Monkees' music to increase dramatically.
Guitarist Michael Nesmith stated that Jones's "spirit and soul live well in my heart, among all the lovely people, who remember with me the good times, and the healing times, that were created for so many, including us. I have fond memories. I wish him safe travels." In an 8 March 2012 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Nesmith commented, "For me, David was the Monkees. They were his band. We were his side men." Bassist Peter Tork said, "Adios to the Manchester Cowboy", and speaking to CNN, drummer/singer Micky Dolenz said, "He was the brother I never had and this leaves a gigantic hole in my heart". Dolenz claimed that he knew something bad was about to happen and said "Can't believe it.. Still in shock.. had bad dreams all night long." Dolenz was gratified by the public affection expressed for both Jones and the Monkees in the wake of his bandmate's death. "He was a very well-known and well-loved character and person. There are a lot of people who are grieving pretty hard. The Monkees obviously had a following, and so did (Jones) on his own. So I'm not surprised, but I was flattered and honored to be considered one of his friends and a cohort in Monkee business."
The Monkees co-creator Bob Rafelson commented that Jones "deserves a lot of credit, let me tell you. He may not have lived as long as we wanted him to, but he survived about seven lifetimes, including being perhaps the biggest rock star of his time."
Brady Bunch co-star Maureen McCormick commented that "Davy was a beautiful soul," and that he "spread love and goodness around the world. He filled our lives with happiness, music, and joy. He will live on in our hearts forever. May he rest in peace."
Yahoo! Music commented that Jones's death "hit so many people so hard" because "Monkees nostalgia cuts across generations: from the people who discovered the band during their original 1960s run; to the kids who came of age watching 1970s reruns; to the 20- and 30-somethings who discovered the Monkees when MTV (a network that owes much to the Monkees' influence) began airing old episodes in 1986."
Time contributor James Poniewozik praised the Monkees' classic sitcom, and Jones in particular, saying "even if the show never meant to be more than entertainment and a hit-single generator, we shouldn't sell The Monkees short. It was far better television than it had to be; during an era of formulaic domestic sitcoms and wacky comedies, it was a stylistically ambitious show, with a distinctive visual style, absurdist sense of humor and unusual story structure. Whatever Jones and the Monkees were meant to be, they became creative artists in their own right, and Jones's chipper Brit-pop presence was a big reason they were able to produce work that was commercial, wholesome, and yet impressively weird."
Mediaite columnist Paul Levinson noted, "The Monkees were the first example of something created in a medium – in this case, a rock group on television – that jumped off the screen to have big impact in the real world."