No More Jones Light

The last time I gave a thought to former Monkee Davy Jones was a year or so ago in Manhattan. I was walking south on Eighth Avenue when I happened to notice he was doing a live show in a modest venue near the corner of 42nd Street. I remember thinking to myself, “Well, it’s a gig at least.” The show continued, according to this interview with timesquare.com’s Peggy Hogan, with an opening set for Saturday, 2.18.

It was reported about a half-hour ago that Jones, 66, has died of a heart attack in Florida. That’s a little young to be checking out, but we all have our timetables.

The Monkees were an embarassment even when they were hot, of course. Jones never stopped playing “cute” to the cameras…intolerable. But I’ve always had a soft spot for their cover of Neil Diamond‘s “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You.”

  • JLC

    I’ve seen him perform quite a few times over the past few years on the theme park circuit. He appeared to know his limitations, but still gave it everything he had. If the crowds I saw him with were any indication, the women who grew up with him still loved him. He owned a horse farm in Florida and was passionate about it. Really sad and still far too young.

  • Ponderer

    They hung out with Timothy Leary, Frank Zappa, gave Harry Nilsson some of his earliest big exposure, likewise with Jimi Hendrix, and John Lennon thought they were as good as The Marx Brothers. Some embarrassment.

    Davy wasn’t Nesmith, of course – he was too much of a song-and-dance guy – but he made me happy every time he was onscreen. That’s especially true with his spectacular rendition of Harry Nilsson’s “Daddy’s Song” in Head.

  • Super Soul

    A manufactured image with no philosophies.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PNfnNBDatY

    RIP Davy and Bert.

  • Super Soul

    I swear I didn’t see your post before submitting that, Ponderer.

  • MrTribeca

    Producing some of the best bubblegum pop ever?

    No, sir, not embarrassing at all.

    By the way, let me know how much you want for your HEAD disc from the Criterion AMERICA LOST AND FOUND box…

  • George Prager

    R.I.P. Davy Jones.

    The Monkees were awesome. I grew up watching the reruns in the 70s. They were an important bridge for my getting into The Beatles, Stones, Who, Doors, Kinks, etc. I thought they were hilarious and I was just listening to their greatest hits in the car. You can’t say that about a lot of groups from the 60s, even the non-manufactured ones. Who listens to Cream or The Moody Blues anymore?

    They also gave Tim Buckley exposure, letting him sing “Song to the Siren” at the end of an episode:

    http://youtu.be/vMTEtDBHGY4

  • Jesse Crall

    @George Prager: Yeah, they were a bridge for me as well. Before I could handle hard rock, The Monkeys were a fun listen on K-Earth 101.

    Although I certainly listen to Cream and The Moody Blues

  • JLC

    Plus, the Sex Pistols never covered The Moody Blues. So there’s that.

  • coxcable

    I don’t think there’s a human being alive whose ever thought about Davy Jones dying.

    Maybe that’s why this is as weird as it is sad.

    Daydream Believer is a great American song.

  • Zach

    “Hey, look, the Monkees. They were a huge influence on the Beatles.” – Lloyd Christmas

    R.I.P.

  • Ponderer

    Oh yeah, Tim Buckley – thanks for reminding me of that.

    One of my favorite images ever is a totally blissed-out Mickey Dolenz in the crowd at Monterey Pop. They never fully got respect from the critical establishment – even after they ripped their careers away from Don Kirshner – but they were at the center of it all, they knew who the movers and shakers were, and the movers and shakers liked THEM.

    (The Monkees are the one of the two 60s groups that became really amazing after their main run on the charts had ended. The other being, of course, The Beach Boys.)

  • Glenn Kenny

    Shorter Wells: “Davy Jones’ musical and dancing talents were bringing joy to people up until he died. How pathetic.”

    Yeah, the reappraisal of the Monkees has been such that the fact of their having made very good records is now in the conventional wisdom. Seems our genial host hasn’t caught up with that. Hope he’s happy with the Strawberry Alarm Clock, or whoever.

    Wells to Kenny: As I said in the piece, “I’ve always had a soft spot for their cover of Neil Diamond‘s ‘A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You.'”

    And “Mary Mary” isn’t half bad. I like the simple dinky guitar and the power chords.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93CzXYgE5FI&feature=related

  • Ponderer

    It wasn’t a cover. It was written by Diamond in his Brill Building days for The Monkees. Diamond never recorded a studio version.

  • Ponderer

    (And the best Monkees song of all time was “Circle Sky” from Head. I loved that in their very last tour with Nesmith in the 90s, they managed to get Davy to ditch his tambourine and strap a fuzz guitar on whenever they played the song.)

  • Glenn Kenny

    Other notable versions of “I’m A Believer:” Robert Wyatt, Tin Huey, The Feelies (last not recorded, officially at least.)

    Actually, Diamond’s version is on his second album “Just For You,” which was released about a year after the Monkee’s version was a hit. I’m not sure the extent to which this album merely collected studio demos, or what, but there you are.

  • Ponderer

    Is that a bonus track on iTunes or something? “A Little Bit You” isn’t listed on the “Just For You” track listing I found on Wikipedia.

    He did start incorporating it into his live sets around 1967.

  • Glenn Kenny

    Oh, sorry, got a little confused, thought we were still on “I’m A Believer.” You’re right about “Little Bit You.”

  • Super Soul

    Seconding the love for Circle Sky. (I follow Ponderer’s lead today.) Fascinating sequence, from back in the day when you could show a real life point blank execution in your film, blood spurting head wound and all, and still pull a G rating.

  • goodvibe61

    Haven’t actually seen him live since he walked on stage at the U2 concert at The Coliseum for their Pop! Tour. He radiated joy at that gig and the enormous crowd loved him for those few minutes. Bono dug it!

    Rhino has had their way with the Monkee back catalog. Critical reassessment has been an ongoing thing for decades with them. Listen to Little Steven on his Underground Garage show; he waxes rhapsodic about Head and Head Quarters, in addition to the famous first album. They were a Pop Culture Zeitgeist; for that alone they’ve become indelible. More than 60 million singles sold worldwide; that ain’t chopped liver.

    They sure were huge for a little while. Say what you want, but their pop stands up. You hear their songs in films and TV shows all the time. They worked with great people, and were respected by most who knew what was actually going on.

    Rest In Peace.

  • Ponderer

    SuperSoul – yep. I was thinking of a anecdote by Roger Waters about how they were considering a scene for the beginning of Pink Floyd The Wall where the audience would get blown up during a concert, but backed off. It made me laugh. The Monkees not only had their onscreen mannequin representations literally ripped limb-to-limb by their fans, but as you said, intercut a real person’s brains getting blown out. Multiple times.

    Game, set and match.

  • Kakihara

    The only thing I hated about the Monkees was that attempted 80s tv reboot. But they weren’t the worst act of that era, considering everyone took Frankie and Annette seriously.

  • corey3rd

    The Monkees were a fake band that became a band. And they did all this damage in less than two TV season. They produced six albums in a little over two years.

    You want to see embarrassing – watch any of the shows that came after the Monkees that thought they could duplicate them. Watch the New Monkees to feel pain.

    And if you really want to feel pain, watch Micky’s horrible acting on Cannon.

    I’ll always have fond memories of afternoon TV in Boston with the Monkees, Banana Splits, Gilligan’s Island and odd AIP movies.

  • Travis Actiontree

    I don’t care who wrote or performed…. “Headquarters” is a GREAT album.

  • Roger Sweets (gnosis)

    George –

    did you say nobody listens to Cream anymore??!!

    Well, everybody needs to reevaluate then.

    Just listen to Ginger Baker for a while and wonder what the hell happened to percussion in pop and rock. Revelatory.

  • iamjoe

    Any non-film celebrity dies, and Wells takes some sort of shit on them. Why are you bothering on a film sight where you ban comments on non-film?

    Been reading you since 1998, and have never thought this before the last few months of Artist hate (which I actually share, championing one-film-and-all-else-is-shit, and that any genre film is automatically shit string of posts from you: that you need to take some time off.

    “Well, it’s a gig at least.”

    http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com

  • Raising_Kaned

    I grew up in the mid-late ’80s, so all the charm of this Monkees stuff just kinda missed me. But I remember watching Brady Bunch reruns, and there was definitely a hushed, reverential tone for Davy that’s usually only reserved for the Dalai Lama. R.I.P.

    Small aside: Cream’s amazing. Really influential on a lot of modern metal bands, believe it or not.

    “And ‘Mary Mary’ isn’t half bad. I like the simple dinky guitar and the power chords.”

    Run DMC’s “Mary, Mary” is the definitive song with that title.

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