POSTED February 29 2012

Davy Jones, Daydream Believer: 1946 — 2012

Davy Jones, the leprechaun with the Beatles bowl-cut, lead singer of The Monkees — a pop band engineered for network TV in the way that Peter, Paul and Mary were a folk trio created for folkies) — has died of a heart attack.

If you’re under 50, you probably have only secondhand experience with The Monkees. Quipsters dubbed them “The Pre-Fab Four” and their relation to film was, at best, tenuous. Their biggest hit, “I’m a Believer” was covered in Shrek. Back in 1968 they starred in Bob Rafelson’s Head, a cannabis pipe-dream that was co-conceived by Rafelson chum Jack Nicholson. In memory, it was a squeaky-clean drug movie that both Surrealist Luis Bunuel and your mother would have approved of. Jones, a forebear of Justin Bieber, was always peppy and game and had the gift of making every 12-year-old girl think that he was singing to her.  Sob.

Why engineer a pop group for a TV show? Rafelson and Bert Schneider wanted John Sebastian and The Lovin’ Spoonful, but that real group already had a record deal.

As a kid during the ’60s,  it seemed that The Monkees harnessed the pop-Surrealism of A Hard Day’s Night and ran with it.


  1. Gary Kramer says:

    I’m under 50 and Looooved THE MONKEES TV show. I think HEAD is one of the best midnight movies, ever. If you need a brush up on why The Monkees are great, by all means read Jan and Michael Stern’s essay in the Encyclopedia of Pop Culture.

  2. Carrie Rickey says:

    @Gary: Right after I posted this it occurred to me that what Martin Balsam said of Holly Golightly in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” applies equally to The Monkees: They may be phonies but they’re REAL phonies.”

  3. Richard says:

    In 1967 or 68 my pal’s older brother was hot stuff because he was taller than Davey Jones. Since we were in 4th grade, that seemed pretty darn cool….

  4. Harold Itzkowitz says:

    Saw HEAD recently and it’s pretty much unwatchable in the same way that the clothes of the era are unwearable. But The Monkees were and are great fun, and they did try o stretch themselves artistically. The Archies never bothered to do that.

  5. wwolfe says:

    I’d never thought of the comparison to Peter, Paul, and Mary before – that’s very true. The irony is that the notion of “authenticity” which plagued the Monkees was introduced into rock and roll when Bob Dylan shifted from the Greenwich Village folk scene to rock and roll. I don’t think Bob cared about authenticity, but a lot of his folkie fans who followed him to rock did, and it’s somehow remained a yardstick for pop music ever since, to no real useful purpose.

  6. eleanor Ringel says:

    Writing as great as ever. Why can’t I think of lines like “Leprechaun with the Beatle bowl-cut”

    So glad can still read you!!

    And, let’s not forget the CURSE of The Artful Dodger….

    Jones at 66. Jack Wilde (the movie Artful) at 50something.

    Wonder how old Anthony Newley (Lean version) got to be?

  7. Carrie Rickey says:

    @Eleanor: Newley died at 68. Forgot all about the Curse of the Artful Dodger. Jones played the AD on the London stage, Wilde in the Oscar-winning film and Newley in the Lean film of the late ’40s.

  8. movieirv says:

    The day The Beatles debuted on Ed Sullivan, there was a live song from “Oliver,” featuring Davy Jones.

  9. I expect you know this, but originally an actor called Martin Horsey played the Artful Dodger in the London production of the Lionel Bart musical beginning in 1960. DJ came in later and reprised the role on Broadway. At some point, the great Steve Marriott, later of the Small Faces (and Humble Pie) also played the role in London. Curtis

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