Davy Jones, the accidental pop-music star who lent his voice to songs such as “Daydream Believer” as a singer of the made-for-television band the Monkees, has died. He was 66.
Jones died today of a heart attack in Indiantown, Florida, where he lived, according to the Associated Press, citing Helen Kensick, his publicist.
The British-born Jones started his career on stage, then signed with Columbia Pictures/Screen Gems Television, which became his route to pop music.
The Monkees, the band, began as “The Monkees,” the TV show, which ran on NBC from 1966 to 1968 and followed the misadventures of a fictional musical quartet of Jones, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork and Michael Nesmith. The fast-paced hijinks were inspired by “A Hard Day’s Night,” the 1964 mock-documentary about, and starring, the Beatles.
In real life, away from their scripted TV show, the Monkees drew a huge fan base to their music. Their debut record, in 1966, produced three Top 20 gold singles -- “I’m a Believer,’’ “Last Train to Clarksville’’ and “Steppin’ Stone.’’ Later hits included “Little Bit Me, Little Bit You.’’ Dolenz, who played drums, and Jones shared primary singing duties.
Becoming David Bowie
Jones’s popularity was such that another David Jones who broke into recording in 1966 changed his name to avoid confusion, becoming David Bowie.
The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll calls the Monkees “the first, and arguably the best, of the prefabricated 60s and 70s pop groups” manufactured by TV executives to capitalize on the frenzy known as Beatlemania. The Partridge Family was another such group of made-for-TV musicians.
He was small of stature and gentle in demeanor. “I used to be 5 feet 4 inches,” (163 centimeters) he told the U.K.’s Daily Mail in 2011, “but I’ve lost an inch.”
He became a family-friendly heartthrob to a generation of girls in the 1960s and 1970s. Jones may have made his biggest television splash on an episode of “The Brady Bunch” in which he appears as Marcia Brady’s dream prom date come true.
Jones enjoyed a career in music long after his television show ended. In an interview published in January in the Republican newspaper of Springfield, Massachusetts, publicizing a free concert he would be giving at the Mohegan Sun Casino Wolf Den, he said he would have been happy had the show kept going.
‘Kiss the Girls’
“I just wanted to be in the show, fall in love twice in each episode and kiss the girls,” he said. “I had no ambition to be Steven Spielberg or Cecil B. DeMille.”
According to the article, Jones said he was happily married to his third wife, Jessica Pacheco, and was trying “to be very positive today in my life.”
“I have a beautiful wife, four great daughters, and several grandchildren, and I’m close to them all,” he told the newspaper.
David Jones was born on Dec. 30, 1945, in Manchester, England. According to a biography on the website of his manager, New York-based Roger Paul Inc., Jones began entertaining at age 11 on the ITV soap opera “Coronation Street.”
Encouraged to try the London stage, he portrayed the Artful Dodger in “Oliver!,” a West End production of the Charles Dickens tale “Oliver Twist.” At 16, he originated that role on Broadway and was nominated for a Tony Award.
The Monkees regrouped on occasion, including for the 1996 studio album “Justus.” A 1997 U.K. tour ended in acrimony and left Jones vowing never to try again, he told the Stuart News newspaper in Florida in 2006.
“I would not work with those guys again if my life depended on it,” Jones told the newspaper. An avid horseman, Jones owned a home in rural Indiantown for 20 years and also spent time in Pennsylvania, the newspaper said.