Wednesday, February 29, 2012
The Personification of Suave
MPL Guest Blogger
Buffalo Gal just told me that Davy Jones died today of a heart attack. He was 66 years old.
Davy Jones (1945-2012)
The Monkees were a huge phenomenon in the mid-1960s pop-rock world. Over a two-year period, the group's singles and albums outsold the Beatles. Much of the credit for the Monkees meteoric rise to fame goes to the Emmy-winning primetime television series created by Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, and the marketing genius of Don Kirshner, who died this past January.
The Monkees hit British TV (1967)
(L to R: Peter Tork, Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones)
But the Monkees' success was due at least as much, if not more, to the talent and charisma of the four lads who comprised the group: Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork. Although they were rock-and-roll musicians fabricated for a TV show, the foursome transformed the group and themselves into a bona fide band. Davy Jones was instrumental in that success, equally with the other three Monkees.
Jones was not known for his musicianship--he most often played tambourine--but he had an absolutely fabulous singing voice, and he was a solid actor with Broadway credentials. Like Micky Dolenz, who had been a child television star, Jones knew how to play his Monkees character for laughs, but he also lent a charm and grace that made him endearing on the TV screen. He personified suave. He also tugged the heartstrings of millions of young ladies around the world, who adored both his television persona and his live, stage-performing presence. Guys were jealous of his handsome looks and easy, confident demeanor with girls, but they also liked Davy personally (as fictional character, real-life singer, and actual person). You could imagine hanging out with him--or any of the other Monkees, or all of them together--and having a really fun time.
I'd like to honor Davy by including what I consider his best Monkees composition (yes, he wrote songs for the group). It was not the most important Monkees song that he co-wrote--that, in my humble opinion, was "War Games"--but "Time and Time Again," which Jones co-wrote with Bill Chadwick, has all of his charm, sophistication, and good cheer. It's just a really fun pop song.
"Time and Time Again" appeared as a bonus track on the 1995 Monkees CD re-release of the album Changes (1970), which featured only Jones and Dolenz, as Tork and Nesmith had previously left the group.
During the group's two-year television run on NBC, I wasn't allowed to watch the show. My Mother disapproved of those "long-haired hippies." When the program landed on CBS as children's Saturday morning fare, I was able to see all the episodes without annoying my Mom. They changed my musical awareness of popular American rock-and-roll.
Of all the Monkees songs on which Davy sang lead vocal, which was my favorite? Oddly, it was a song he never liked.
"Daydream Believer" (1967) as shown during the
music segment from the television show
Did you have a favorite Davy Jones-sung Monkees tune? Or, perhaps, something from his solo career? I'd like to know. Comments section, please and thanks, as Cauli would say.
Davy Jones had all the talents necessary to become a successful pop star, as Don Kirshner recognized. But to those of us who watched him and his pals on TV, he was a good friend, who we will truly miss.
P.S. I can't find a decent video of "War Games," but the song was included on a Monkees CD rarities release called Missing Links (1990), the first of (I think) three volumes of such previously unreleased material. "Time and Time Again" was also included on this compilation. So, instead, please allow me to offer Davy's screen test for the sitcom series that became The Monkees (1966-1968).
P.P.S. Thanks, Cauli, for this chance to pay tribute to one of my childhood heroes. Two cans of premium tuna-in-oil, as per our agreement.