February 29, 2012 – David “Davy” Jones (The Monkees) was born on December 30th 1945 in Manchester, England and at age 11 began an acting career, appearing on the soap opera ‘Coronation Street’, produced by Granada Television in Manchester, where in 1961 he played Colin Lomax, the grandson of Ena Sharples.
However, after the death of his mother when he was 14, Davy made a career change and became a jockey, training with Basil Foster for awhile. (Jones cared for Foster in his later years, bringing him to the United States and providing him with financial support).
Even though he could have been one of the greats according to insiders, he was soon back in the public entertainment eye, first on stage in London’s West End and then on Broadway, playing the Artful Dodger, in the show Oliver!, which was nominated for a Tony Award. He also had a starring cameo role in a hallmark episode of The Brady Bunch television show and later reprised parody film; Love, American Style; and My Two Dads.
On February 9th 1964, Davy appeared with the Broadway cast of Oliver! on The Ed Sullivan Show, the same episode on which The Beatles made their first appearance. Jones said 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.” At that time Jones was considered one of the great teen idols.
Following his Ed Sullivan appearance, Jones signed a contract with Ward Sylvester of Screen Gems (then the television division of Columbia Pictures). A pair of American television appearances followed, as Jones received screen time in episodes of Ben Casey and The Farmer’s Daughter.
Jones debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 in the week of 14 August 1965, with the single “What Are We Going To Do?” The 19-year-old singer was signed to Colpix Records, a label owned by Columbia. His debut album David Jones, on the same label, followed soon after. In 1967 the album was issued in the UK, in mono only, on the Pye Records label. A collector’s item today.
From 1966 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. Jones sang lead vocals on many of the Monkees’ recordings, including “I Wanna Be Free” and “Daydream Believer”.
The NBC television series the Monkees was popular, and remained in syndication. After the group disbanded in 1971, Jones reunited with Micky Dolenz as well as Monkees songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart in 1974 as a short-lived group called Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart. In the period after disbanding the Monkees he went back to TV and fashion and some half assed efforts in music.
A Monkees television show marathon (“Pleasant Valley Sunday”) broadcast on 23 February 1986 by MTV resulted in a wave of Monkeemania not seen since the group’s heyday. Jones reunited with Dolenz and Peter Tork from 1986 to 1989 to celebrate the band’s renewed success and promote the 20th anniversary of the group. A new top 20 hit, “That Was Then, This Is Now” was released (though Jones did not perform on the song) as well as an album, Pool It!.
Monkees activity ceased until 1996 when Jones reunited with Dolenz, Tork and Michael Nesmith to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the band. The group released a new album entitled Justus, the first album since 1967’s Headquarters that featured the band members performing all instrumental duties. It was the last time all four Monkees performed together.
In February 2011, Jones confirmed rumors 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 (Jones’s last) came to fruition entitled, An Evening with The Monkees: The 45th Anniversary Tour.
Not much later on February 29, 2012, the leap year day, Davy died from a massive heart attack at age 66.