During the latter half of "Dark Side of the Highway" this Sunday (March 4, 4-6 AM EST), I'll be presenting a special memorial tribute to British actor and The Monkees' lead vocalist Davy Jones...
David Thomas Jones, December 30, 1945 - February 29, 2012
David Thomas "Davy" Jones (30 December 1945 – 29 February 2012) was an English rock singer-songwriter and actor best known as a member of The Monkees. In 2008, Yahoo Music named Jones the number one teen idol of all time.
Davy Jones was born in Leamington Street, Openshaw, Manchester, England, on 30 December 1945. At the age of 11, he began his acting career, and appeared on the British television soap opera Coronation Street as Ena Sharples's grandson, Colin Lomax in 1961. He also appeared in the BBC police series Z-Cars. However, after the death of his mother from emphysema when he was 14 years old, he left acting and trained as a jockey with Basil Foster.
Meanwhile, soon events developed which conspired to bring Jones back to the stage. That is when Foster was approached by a friend who worked in a theatre in the West End of London during casting for Oliver!., Foster replied that, "I've got the kid." Jones then became more interested in being in show business and appeared to great acclaim in the musical Oliver! as the Artful Dodger. After playing the role in London, he accompanied the show on Broadway and was nominated for a Tony Award. On 9 February 1964, he appeared with the Broadway cast of Oliver! on The Ed Sullivan Show, the same episode on which The Beatles made their first appearance. Jones says 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, Ward Sylvester of Screen Gems (then the television division of Columbia Pictures) signed Jones to a contract. A pair of American television appearances followed, as Jones received screen time in episodes of Ben Casey and The Farmer's Daughter. He also recorded a single and album for Colpix Records, which charted but were not huge hits.
From 1965 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. As a Monkee, Jones sang lead vocals on many of the group's songs, including "I Wanna Be Free" and "Daydream Believer". Davy met Laramy Smith in 1967, introduced by Eirik Wangberg (then a producer and co-owner of Sound Records). Laramy and Davy co-produced The Children, an Austin Texas group Davy discovered while on tour with the Monkees. A single was released on Laramie Records entitled "Picture Me", which reached Billboard at number 2 with a bullet.
After the Monkees went off the air, the group disbanded. However, Jones continued to perform solo, while later joining with fellow Monkee Micky Dolenz and songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart as a short-lived group called Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart. He also toured throughout the years with other members as various incarnations of the Monkees.
In February 2011, Jones mentioned 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 came to fruition entitled, "An Evening with The Monkees: The 45th Anniversary Tour."
In 1978, he appeared with Micky Dolenz in Harry Nilsson's play The Point at the Mermaid Theatre in London. Jones continued acting as he appeared in one episode of The Brady Bunch, two episodes of My Two Dads, an episode of Here Come the Brides, and two episodes of Love, American Style. He also appeared and sang, in animated form, on an episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies and in an episode of Hey Arnold. Also, Jones made a cameo appearance as himself in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "SpongeBob vs. The Big One" (his appearance was meant to be a pun on Davy Jones' Locker), a third-season episode of the sitcom Boy Meets World and the Brady Bunch spoof movie of The Brady Bunch Movie. In 1997 he guest-starred as himself on the television show Sabrina the Teenage Witch and sang "Daydream Believer" to Sabrina (Melissa Joan Hart).
In later years, Jones performed with his former bandmates in reunion tours and appeared in several productions of Oliver! as Fagin. He continued to race horses with some success in his native England, while residing in Beavertown, PA. He owned and raced horses in the United States and served as a commercial spokesman for Colonial Downs racetrack in Virginia. Jones maintained a residence in Stuart, Florida as well.
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 November 1, 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". As a result of the collaboration, Jones became a close friend of Boynton. Also in 2007, Jones recorded the theme for a campy movie comedy called Sexina: Popstar PI.
In December 2008, Yahoo Music named Jones "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.
In 2009, Jones released an album entitled "She" which is a collection of handpicked classics and standards from the 1940s through the 1970s. Also in 2009, Jones performed in the Flower Power Concert Series during Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival.
On the morning of 29 February 2012, Jones was found dead at his Indiantown, Florida home at the age of 66. His publicist, Deborah Robicheau, announced that Jones had suffered a massive heart attack in his sleep.