Saturday, March 3, 2012

RIP Davy Jones

Karen: Another childhood icon is gone. I'm sure everyone has heard by now that former Monkee Davy Jones passed away from a heart attack at age 66 earlier this week. Like many, I watched the Monkees regularly and grew up singing their theme song and taking my Monkees lunch box to school. Despite their manufactured nature, they had a marvelous group of songwriters and many memorable tunes. Jones had a nice voice and always seemed like the happy go lucky guy, eminently likable. From what I've read, it seems like he was also a decent guy in real life.

Doug: I, too, watched the television show regularly. It was always farcical and silly. Like many of the music-based TV shows (i.e. The Partridge Family), the songs were the best part of the show. I also fondly recall the episode of The Brady Bunch when Marcia recruited Davy to sing at her prom. Fun stuff -- like Karen, fond memories.

Karen: Here's a clip of the Monkees performing "Valeri," my favorite song that had Davy on lead vocals.


david_b said...

The passing of Mr. Jones actually answered questions I had for the last few years, regarding how the Monkees would be remembered when sadly, members start fading in to the sunset. More noticed for pop culture innovations and influence, among them pushing the music video concept along as an entertainment format..? Or more as other 60s bands (loosely applied here..) like the Byrds, Hermits, you name ‘em. It was interesting to see the heartfelt (and humorous regards..), echoed over the last few days..:

“Ah, somewhere, Marcia Brady is REALLY bummed..”

As most of you here probably know already, I’ve been a huge Monkees devotee since their initial CBS reruns in ’69, and a big reader of pop band biographies, always a fan of inner workings and band relationships.. While not my ‘favorite Monkee’, you have to admit that, as a television/pop concept, despite having the least initial musical talent, Davy’s appeal was crucial to making the concept actually ‘work’. It was his screen charisma that was crucial to not only making the ‘TV Beatles’ idea palatable, but it was his ‘artful dodger’ pluckiness and vocal talents that was necessary for the chemistry to sell the idea to sponsors and, of course, record buyers. As for musical talent, Davy had to pick up drums (freeing Micky to sing lead), bass guitar, and of course percussion from scratch when they decided to tour.

The most marvelous story of the pre-fab foursome is they never lost sight of who they were as a manufactured band, and for musical integrity, broke away from the corporate giants that created them to evolve their own non-bubblegum style with folks like Frank Zappa and Pat Paulsen popping up on television, next to shows like ‘Flying Nun’ and ‘Bonanza’. More of a fan of their progressive, psychedelic sound than their initial records, you have to admit, Don Kirschner had a winning formula laid out with folks like Carole King and Neil Diamond churning out hits, and a weekly national platform to get these hits out to the public, never having been done before.

I heard Peter’s coming to the Michigan Comiccon in May, so I’m hoping to get an autograph and simply say, ‘thank you’ to yet another childhood hero making growing up just a bit easier.. Expressing my thankfulness has provided me the most joy ever in my later years.

Fred W. Hill said...

I happened to see the Monkees (or at least 3/4 of them) in concert last summer and they really put on a great show. In some sense they're a "guilty pleasure" but many of their songs, whether they played on them or not, were topnotch pop.
According to Peter Tork, Davey Jones was a far better drummer than Mickey Dolenz but they didn't get to decide who played what based on actual talent and thus on nearly all of their tv performances Jones was delegated to playing the tambourine, even when Dolenz was singing lead. There might have been a few where he played guitar or the drums but I can't think of any right off (in concert, Jones took turns at both). Them's the breaks in the entertainment biz.

david_b said...

On TV vids, you saw Davy on bass in 'Pleasant Valley Sunday', and actually played bass for their Aussie tour in '68.. You also saw Davy on drums on the 'Randy Scout Git' video. Checkout the 'Daily Nightly' video for cool watching.., Mile wrote the song about the Watts rioting.

Fred W. Hill said...

This got me to watching several Monkees performances on Youtube, and one, Words, a sort of duet between Dolenz & Tork, has Dolenz on tambourine and Jones on drums, so there's at least one example of them switching around.

Fred W. Hill said...

Just watched the "Daily Nightly" video, David. Great recommendation! I'd never even heard of the song before, but certainly more evidence that they were hardly simply teeny-bopper fare.

david_b said...

Sorry, meant to type 'Mike' not 'Mile'..

Do yourself a favor, check out the 'Love is only sleeping' vid on youtube, was nearly a single in '67, but wasn't ready for release on schedule.

Doug said...

I want to thank you two for the recommendations. After reading this and exploring YouTube today, my Monkees collection is larger than it was a day ago. Prior, I really just new the hits.



Rip Jagger said...

I've really been impressed by how broadly and deeply the passing of Davy Jones has impacted people. Folks at work were all talking about it and I know personally that the music of this pre-fab group is very important.

The Monkees are a touchstone for many it seems. The death of Jones is a bracer for many it seems.

And Valeri is my favorite too.

Rip Off

Jason Atomic said...

When I was around 3 years old my mum came into the living room and found me watching TV with a big frown on my face.
She wanted to know what my problem was.
I was upset because The Monkees were not funny today (they were in B/W they talked weird the songs were unappealing etc.)
Patiently she explained that I was watching The Beatles 'Help', I wasn't impressed in fact I never forgave the Beatles for being what I assumed was a crap rip-off off my beloved Monkees.
RIP David Jones.

Inkstained Wretch said...

I first caught the show in the 80s when they started re-running on MTV. I thought it was astoundingly good and very experimental. The gags were often surreal and guys regularly broke the fourth wall to do the kind of meta-commentary that's common today but must have been very daring back then.

The stuff about the band members not initially playing on the records may be true but hardly distinguishes them. That happened with lots of bands, including some critics' favorites. Roger McGuinn is the only member of the Byrds who actually plays an instrument on "Mr. Tambourine Man."

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