February 29, 2012, - 2:21 pm
The “Last Train to Clarksville” has left the station. Davy Jones, lead singer of The Monkees, died of a heart attack in Florida at age 66. I will remember him for the famous episode of “The Brady Bunch”–“Getting Davy Jones“–in which he guest-starred. I was just a baby when it originally aired, but I saw on TV re-runs after school in the ’80s.
In the late ’60s, a bunch of showbiz types put together what was a precursor to music videos: a group of four photogenic guys who didn’t play instruments, but could sing and act in a cheesy musical comedy TV show, “The Monkees.” And it worked for a few years. Jones, Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork, and Michael Nesmith were cast in the eponymous band. I wasn’t alive when the show aired, but became familiar with the show through after-school re-runs and collectible “Monkees” cards my Aunt Geet gave to me (the scan above is from my collection). The show–which generated a lot of hits and sold millions of records–was very politically incorrect, with The Monkees impersonating Arabs in keffiyehs (on several episodes), something they’d never get away with in post-9/11 Islamo-pandering America. When I was in high school, I met Jones when I went back stage at a Detroit theater in which he was starring in a musical (I think it was “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”). And he was a really charming guy. I was surprised at how diminutive he was, and that apparently came in handy because he trained as a jockey before he became an actor and then singer.
I wonder if–and highly doubt that–Jones or any of the other Monkees would be successful pop singers today. It was a different time in the late ’60s and early ’70s, and they quickly faded, doing guest appearances at smaller venues and on TV shows (without Nesmith, who shunned that and became a successful businessman, whose mother invented “Liquid Paper” correction fluid, something that now also seems of another era; he reportedly inherited the millions she made from it and didn’t have to remain a Monkee on tour). Jones, himself, was the star of the group–something that made the other three jealous and caused a break-up. He went on to a briefly successful solo career and became a national heartthrob. But America is fickle. And he was relegated to late night TV infomercials hawking “golden oldies” CDs and small venues where post-middle age women would reminisce. I’m sure that three marriages and families with two of his wives doesn’t help the finances, either.
I mentioned “The Brady Bunch” episode, parts of which are posted below. It was probably my favorite episode of the show, but likely doesn’t stand the test of time, nonetheless. What do you think? Watch the video, below. The episode features Jones as a special guest star. He’s in town recording his new album, and Marcia Brady, who had a crush on Jones, has promised her friends that he will perform at her high school prom. She heads his fan club and falls for a letter she was sent supposedly by him. Soon, the whole Brady family poses in various roles, including as a busboy, to try to get to Davy Jones. That was in the days before famous performers had giant, armed security guards. Oh, and it also was in the days when hit singers were still mensches and had some class (at least on scripted TV sit-coms).
Davy Jones, Rest In Peace.
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