Davy Jones

Davy Jones (1945-2012)

One generation is going to feel the loss of the Monkees’ Davy Jones more than any other and it is not, as you might expect, pop fans from the 1960s. Without a doubt, the Pre-Fab Four (a tag the band has gone on record to say they absolutely hated) will have fans from that time, and girls who found in Davy Jones the Paul McCartney they couldn’t have will feel a wince of pain at his sudden death, brought down by a heart attack at the age of 66. People loved those Monkees songs back then, but unlike the Beatles, this one-time concoction turned full-time endeavor had a significant stretch when they were not beloved.

In the 1970s, to admit any appreciation of the Monkees was like admission of harboring a leprous gene. Sure, folks loved “Daydream Believer,” “I’m A Believer” and “Last Train To Clarksville,” but as singles that darted by on the radio, and not with much affection for the group that presented them. Indeed around that time people were really taking the whole notion of their “prefabrication” pretty seriously…too seriously. There wasn’t much that the Monkees did that a lot of famous, sustaining, beloved pop stars didn’t also do. There was a sense of nobility in the fact that most of the band really wanted to be their own entity, and not that of the face for the faceless music sausage factory. That nobility was hardly a saving asset in the era of the singer/songwriters who, as inferred, sang what they themselves wrote. And so the swinging ’70s were a tough time for most of them, excepting Michael Nesmith who founded a company that specialized in this newfangled thing called the “music video.”

In fact, there wasn’t much difference between what the Monkees did and what music videos were, and so one year in the 1980s a programming genius at MTV, a young network that showed product financed in full by record labels and not by themselves, then sold advertising slots, banked coin and held cultural influence because of that thriftiness, aired reruns of the Monkees TV show. That generation of Eighties Kids will feel the loss of Jones the most.

Why? Because here was a generation that could finally relate to the Monkees in full. The Beatles were going to be beloved by all no matter what. Many of the British Invasion bands, and tons of American ones, were embraced by the ex-Flower Children, which made them anathema to their offspring. Divorce was high. For a large population of youth, the Monkees had been cast off by their core demographic, shunned as uncool and inconsequential, and buried on the oldies station instead of being celebrated as something, anything. For those kids who had those step brothers and sisters and, maybe real or maybe incorrectly interpreted, felt less wanted because of them, they felt in the Monkees some kind of alignment and so they took the Pre-Fabs to their heart. For them, the loss of Jones will likely hurt more than for people like me.

Truth be told, I was always a bigger fan of Mickey Dolenz and have been known to mock Jones’ rather, uh, peculiar dance moves, but even I cannot discredit the contribution he made to pop music, and in some vastly strange, intangible way that connection this group had with so many of my friends both then and now. I enjoy the songs of the Monkees but never had that visceral connection, but I think I understand what those folks are feeling. Jones was the first of the group to prove his mortality. The rest will follow, hopefully much, much later, but this is still inevitability to us all.

We’ll all always have “Daydream Believer” and the rest, but for those who made the Monkees their own for a myriad of reasons, this is going to hurt for awhile.

  • Bob

    I’ve always had a soft spot for the Monkees. Thanks for the remembrance, DW.

  • onothimagain

    Once one gets past those few hits that have survived the ravages of time, one will discover that the real ‘gold’ is to be found in the albums, especially from their third album “Headquarters” onward.  They made some fascinating music, much of it very clearly NOT the mainstream pop of that time.  Davey Jones was part of that.  Their  music, hits and non-hits alike, brought a lot of happiness and joy into the lives of millions of kids in their day; for many people since, that is STILL the case.  To write off the Monkees as simply a manufactured product by a hit-making music industry is to see 2% of the whole picture.  But that is often the American way….God bless you, Davey!

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