February 29, 2012, - 2:21 pm

Davy Jones, of Monkees Fame, RIP: Last Train to Clarksville Has Left the Station

By Debbie Schlussel

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.


Davy Jones (From My Monkees Card Collection)

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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45 Responses

Grooooovy! RIP Davy Jones! I loved the TV show and I loved their music. Davy Jones was such a good bloke (and the reason David Bowie had to change his last name to Bowie…because his real last name is Jones) and everyone remembers that episode of the Brady Bunch with a smile. :D

I will annoy myself later by going to on iTunes and watching all the bandwagon-lemmings buy the music of the Monkees and Davy Jones. I will not be so annoyed though because the other three are still among us and their music is VERY good. I never get tired of it and Mickey Donlenz was my favourite Monkee. I love the song “Words”.

I love his singing (Dolenz) and also Nesmith. I am a big fan of Mike Nesmith’s music…especially his county style stuff. I was so pleased that this “fake” band actually had so much talent and could play great music.

The TV show was awesome and funny and I also got to love it from the re-runs.

God bless DJ. The Monkees were awesome and their music shall live on.

(Robin Gibb of the fantabulous Bee Gees is sick and may not be of this earth much longer and the music of the Bee Gees is just incredible so enjoy the talent BEFORE the 2nd brother of 4 leaves us. His voice is not the falsetto (that is Barry) but I recommend “Holiday” and any other tune he sings on…even his 80′s songs!)

Skunky on February 29, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Hey Skunky! I remember an old video from Nesmith from the 80′s I think where he was wearing Godzilla leggings & walking around crushing a city!

    Hollywood on February 29, 2012 at 2:55 pm

You are such a girl!!

Jonathan E. Grant on February 29, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Don’t forget he did a funny appearance in the first Brady Bunch movie. He sings ‘Girl’ in front of high school girls who ignore him, while the female high school teachers rush to the stage. Classic!

Lee on February 29, 2012 at 2:50 pm

I used to sit next to the old Magnavox on the floor & listen to “Last Train To Clarksville”. Yes, I long for the old days.

Hollywood on February 29, 2012 at 2:53 pm

I grew up watching the Brady Bunch & now we have the 1st two seasons on DVD. My kids ( 11, 8 & 5) LOVE them! And me too: No sex, no swearing, and though the kids fight and disobey etc., they have parents that serve up consequences. It is so refreshing! The retro items, fashion & design are also interesting to see. I know it is campy, but it IS beloved by many in my generation! Great fun. BTW, loved The Monkees & Davy Jones, too. Tons of my friends posting about his passing….back in that day, there weren’t many channels–we all kinda grew up on the same stuff. Not like today.

Georgianna Rodhouse on February 29, 2012 at 3:02 pm

I remember watching an interview of the Monkees and they were talking about girls throwing things at them during concerts; underwear, phone numbers, etc. One of them, either Davey or Mike, remembered a girl chucking a Final Net hairspray can at them and busting his head. My mom used Final Net and I recall thinking that would have to be pretty darned painful to get hit by one of those. It still makes me wince.

Blayne on February 29, 2012 at 3:27 pm

I ve never been a tv watcher,so I am sad to admit I don t know the Monkees,I am vaguely familiar with the…Brady bunch(not the movie I know) Skunky mentioned the Beegees and those fine boys’ music is F a b u l o u s…timeless in my opinion,Debbie does mention how people on tv and showbiz in general used to have character,men were gentemen and women were ladies,my papi does tell me stories about those days and it makes me wish I had been alive then….thanks Debbie and Skunky.
May Mr. Monkee Davy Jones RIP.

Juan on February 29, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Once again you get the facts wrong Debbie. All the Monkees were musicians prior to the show. Tork, Nesmith and Dolenz played guitar and Jones played Drums. Tork also played piano and Nesmith played bass. The lineup should have been Tork (guitar), Nesmith (bass), Jones (drums) and Dolenz fronting the band.
They also didnt break up because of Jones jealousy. They had a hit TV show that made them popular and when it was cancelled, they became less popular. Very simple. They also left Don Kirshner, who provided them with the hits. They hung around for a few more years and albums after the TV show ended, but Tork left from exhaustion and then Nesmith formed a new band.

A: Thanks for the incorrect correction. But, while I don’t claim to be a Monkees expert (or even fan–cuz I’m neither), in fact the casting call was for actors only, not musicians. And Jones and Dolenz were actors, who went through training as musicians only after they were cast. Also, none of them played instruments on the show at first. When I said “didn’t play instruments,” I meant on the show. I’m backed up here:

http://www.8notes.com/biographies/monkees.asp

Nesmith and Tork were both already professional musicians, but Dolenz and Jones were better known as actors. All four were trained in both improvisational comedy and performing musically as a group before the pilot episode was filmed, so that they could look and act like a cohesive band even though it was only their voices being used on the initial recordings.

While, yes, part of the reason for the break-up was the end of the show, there were many reports about how the other three in the band were jealous of Jones who was far more popular than the rest and who was easily able to embark on a career on his own. DS

Adam on February 29, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Adam, always trying to be hostile and going down in flames every time. LOL!

    I won’t list the most popular songs (as those are all played out…good tunes, but I have heard them too many times) and you know I don’t want you to buy them today (LOL) but here are some great Monkee tunes…

    (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone
    Valleri
    Mary Mary
    Goin’ Down
    Your Auntie Grizelda
    Words
    She
    What Am I Doing Hanging ‘Round
    Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)
    Papa Gene’s Blues

    Skunky on February 29, 2012 at 4:08 pm

      And my personal favorite: Pleasant Valley Sunday…

      Occam's Tool on March 1, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    Adam, the Wiki record tells a somewhat different story…..”In assigning instruments for purposes of the television show, a dilemma arose as none of the four was a drummer. Both Nesmith, a skilled guitarist and bassist, and Tork, who could play several stringed and keyboard instruments, declined to give the drum set a try. Jones tested well initially as a novice drummer, but the camera could barely capture him behind the drums because of his short stature. Thus, Dolenz (who only knew how to play the guitar) was assigned to become the drummer. Tork taught Dolenz his first few beats on the drums, enough for him to fake his way through filming, but Micky was soon taught how to play properly. Thus, the lineup for the TV show most frequently featured Nesmith on guitar, Tork on bass, Dolenz on drums, and Jones as a frontman/singer/percussionist.”

    Less frequently told in the Monkees story is that they were the creation of Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, who belong to that same religion as grafted gratuitously onto the villain written into the abominable movie “Act of Valor.” And although the boys cast as the Monkees ultimately proved themselves as very entertaining and talented actors and musicians, much of their success also has to be attributed to the great songwriters behind their hits: principally Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart, Neil Diamond, and Carol King–the latter two who are also members of the chosen people.

    (I bring this up only because it still burns me up that anyone would stoop to writing a character as a Jew who is supposed to be the “mastermind” behind terrorism in the world, when there is not a single Jewish person in real life that could remotely resemble such a character. And yet, in the REAL world, wherever you look for things that make life better or at least a little more tolerable, you will find that Jewish people had some important role in their development–and many times a key role.)

    Ralph Adamo on February 29, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Back in the 90′s a Chicago theater group did a production called “The Real Live Brady Bunch.” Each stage performance was an episode of the TV show – the same script, set design, clothes and even commercials. I saw the “Getting Davy Jones” episode on stage in LA and Davy Jones played himself. He sang “Girl” and even wore that same blue and white jacket. It was so much fun and brought back so many memories. RIP Davy.

Janne on February 29, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Debbie, if Adam had bothered to look at any old photograph of the Monkees while they (pretended) to play on TV, he would have noticed that Nesmith played guitar, Dolenz played drums, Tork played bass and banjo, and Jones played the tambourine.

I remember when I was a kid seeing the real Monkee Mobile driving down my street. A car dealership on the corner was lucky enough to have it parked there for the day.

Lars on February 29, 2012 at 5:37 pm

I used to dig “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” myself.

Patrick on February 29, 2012 at 6:21 pm

I loved the Davy Jones/Brady Bunch episode! It was my favorite. I had a crush on Davy as a kid, as I used to watch the re-runs in the afternoons. To this day, I still like their music. Rest in peace, Davy.

Jean on February 29, 2012 at 6:23 pm

What made Davy Jones’ death that much more of a surprise (or one of the things, anyway) was that of the four original Monkees, Peter Tork in recent years has had major health problems including a bout with throat cancer.

But it was also due to Jones’ fame with The Monkees that another British-born singer who was born with the name David Jones was forced to change his name – to David Bowie.

ConcernedPatriot on February 29, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Believe me when I tell all of you this: I am the ONLY person here who actually is an expert on this subject (and pop music of the 1960s in general). I could waste hours correcting everyone who posts here on all the misinformation all of you keep spewing, but instead, I’ll just post this link to what I believe was the guy’s finest moment. In the campy 1968 movie “HEAD” he does a cool soft-shoe to the Harry Nilsson tune, “Daddy’s Song.” The girl who joins him at 1:34 is a young Toni Basil, who surprisingly, is shorter than he is, even in high heels:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ornP4eeCyBI

Irving on February 29, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Irving, you would prolly like that new book called “The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll’s Best-Kept Secret” by Kent Hartman. (It’s about the studio players)

    I heard the repeat of the hour he spent on AM Coast To Coast last Friday and I could have listened all night long. I’m gonna get the book and I love rock and roll wonkish stuff like that!

    Skunky on February 29, 2012 at 10:29 pm

On February 9, 1964, the Beatles made their historic first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show (they would make a total of 4 while they were together). The Beatles opened the show with three songs, followed by a magic act and then a musical number by the cast of the Broadway play “Oliver.” A young Davy Jones was one of the “Oliver” cast members performing on that historic broadcast.

Mike on February 29, 2012 at 8:22 pm

…..since Barry Soetoro has put this great country on “The Last Train to Marx-ville”, I guess it is best that the hard working AMERICAN success story, Davy Jones, can be spared from what is to come….

Nick Fury on February 29, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Davy Jones looks so ridiculously young in the vid — but I remember when he seemed like a GROWN UP in my eyes. Boy, time flies.

Sad he's gone on February 29, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Fine..you morons want to go by the wiki…”Both Nesmith, a skilled guitarist and bassist, and Tork, who could play several stringed and keyboard instruments…”Dolenz (who only knew how to play the guitar)”…”In DVD commentary tracks included in the Season One release, Nesmith stated that Tork was better at playing guitar than bass. In Tork’s commentary, he stated that Jones was a good drummer and had the live performance lineups been based solely on playing ability, it should have been Tork on guitar, Nesmith on bass, and Jones on drums, with Dolenz taking the fronting role.”

All exactly what I wrote, and direct quotes from the wiki that you idiots acknowledge.

Sure, the casting call was for actors, but they got lucky with a combinations of musicians and actors. Stephen Stills tried out…musician, not actor. He recommended that Peter Tork try out.

Adam on February 29, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Thank you, Professor Adam. You have our humble apologies, if that helps. I will volunteer to clean the blackboard after everyone has finished posting.

    Ralph Adamo on February 29, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    Actually, Tork’s main instrument was and is the banjo. Even Jimi Hendrix once complemented him on his banjo playing skills, which was part of the Monkees’ live act.

    Irving on February 29, 2012 at 11:53 pm

      Speaking of Hendrix, didn’t he open for them on one of their tours in what was the mis-match of the decade? The boys were huge fans of his.
      I’m no fan of most pop music, I think it’s for kids, but I still like quite a number of their songs especially (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone and Valleri. Nice list Skunky.

      theShadow on March 1, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    ” when there is not a single Jewish person in real life that could remotely resemble such a character. And yet, in the REAL world, wherever you look for things that make life better or at least a little more tolerable, you will find that Jewish people had some important role in their development–and many times a key role”

    Wow. This is an absurdly ignorant statement…I’ll leave it at that.

    NYJ on March 5, 2012 at 1:04 pm

I also watched “The Monkees” TV show as a kid in the 1970′s as well as the Brady Brunch during the 1970′s and early 1980′s. They were both indeed great shows.

RIP, Davy Jones.

JeffE on February 29, 2012 at 11:28 pm

A final word. The main similarity between the Monkees and the Beatles was the fact that both groups featured four very distinctive vocalists, which was and remains a rarity. Just as there was never any doubt about which Beatle was singing lead on any given Beatles tune, there was also no doubt about which Monkee was singing lead on any Monkees tune.

Juxtapose that to, say, the Association, where all six members of the group sang, but their voices were all so similar that you couldn’t really tell (or care) who was singing lead.

While Davy was usually saddled with the mellower ballads, on the rare occasions when he did get the chance to belt out some raunchy psychedelic rock, his voice proved to be a powerful instrument. I’ll use this track, which features some blistering lead guitar work by Neil Young as an example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6cpo_5lMWs

I’ve got as much Monkees on my portable mp3 player as any other group.

Irving on March 1, 2012 at 12:06 am

Amazing. The Great Monkee Debate. Who’d-a ever thunk?

gmartinz on March 1, 2012 at 2:01 am

Debbie, if we have a daughter I will certainly not clear the room so men can have their way with her. I would have sat with you and Marcia and the lecherous rock star would have sat across from us on the other couch. In fact if our daughter looks like you I will build a moat around our house with entry by drawbridge only.

A1 on March 1, 2012 at 3:23 am

Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart penned a lot of their hits. TV wanted a second string of poseurs after Hard Days Night. The Beatles were way too cool having quit touring in 1966, so NBC created The pre-fab four to pick up the slack. Dolenz faked the drums quite well with coaching from Hal Blaine, but he was certainly no drummer. Nesmith has a massive ego and thinks he belongs in between John Lennon & Bob Dylan in pop history (read Cynthia Lennon’s ‘Twist of Lennon’). Torkelson is a quiry recovering alcoholic, but pleasant nonetheless. The Monkees were little more than a well-done MILLI-VANILLI in their era.

#1 Vato on March 1, 2012 at 10:41 am

    “The Monkees were little more than a well-done MILLI-VANILLI in their era.”
    #1 Vato on March 1, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Hardly, not even close. The Monkees sang their songs, were actual musicians (Tork and Nesmith) and even wrote a lot of the tunes. They were no mere poseurs, not any more than most of the bands of that era (Beach Boys, Mommas and Poppas, etc… even the Beatles) that used studio musicians .
    Plus, their songs didn’t suck.

    theShadow on March 1, 2012 at 10:27 pm

      Shadow..OK/OK, point taken. But articles mentioning The Monkees & The Beatles in the same breath are way off base. The Monkees were a pre-formulated TV show. My neighbor auditioned for the show..I remember because I was there as a young kid. But he was a musician, not an actor and never got called back. I don’t care if any of them, at any time ever played an instrument. They were hired as actors on a TV show. While they may have been given credit as musicians/songwriters as time went on, they were hardly respected as serious musicians by anyone in-the-know. If it weren’t for Liquid Paper..Nesmith today would be playing his greatest hits at Indian Casinos somewhere. Mickey Dolenz put it all in perspective when he said “The Beatles were NASA..The Monkees were Star Trek”. One was real/the other was not. Also…Charlton Heston was an actor…he really wasn’t Moses..

      #1 Vato on March 3, 2012 at 4:01 pm

RIP Davey, I was 11-12 when they started. KHJ in Los Angeles played a lot of their music over and over again during the day. I liked them at the time. They had a good promotion manager too. But after awhile it faded. Liked the TV show as a kid.

jake49 on March 1, 2012 at 10:55 am

In other news, and I hope Debbie writes an article on this sometime today, shocking and stunning news, blogger and commentator Andrew Breitbart died earlier today at the age of 43, I’ll read a little more on how exactly Mr. Breitbart passed away. Absolutely unexpecting news that Breitbart died today!

“A nation is defined by its borders, language & culture!”

Sean R. on March 1, 2012 at 10:57 am

    @Sean R.: As you may’ve noticed, there’s not exactly any love lost between Debbie and whom she’s referred to as Andrew “Breitfraud,” for reasons she has documented and detailed (very greatly) in past articles. Still, that his death came only one day after Davy Jones’ . . .

    CP: Davy Jones was a great artist. Andrew Breitbart was a BS artist. DS

    ConcernedPatriot on March 1, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Oh, man, I LOVED The Monkees! Terrific show. I loved shows from that period that were just entertaining. No putdowns, no politics, no “very special episode” nonsense, just good, clean fun. I loved their corny, dry humor.

I actually loved their music. Whoever put those out did a great job.

I loved Nesmith’s song “Different Drum” as sung by Linda Ronstadt.

A few other trivia I should fact check but haven’t:

If I recall Mike Nesmith actually started the music video trend before MTV.

I’m surprised nobody mentioned it, yet, but I think their movie “Head” was written by Jack Nicholson.

Mickey Dolenz’ daughter Amy was in a few 80s era movies. I recall a few and she was a doll.

Jeff_W on March 1, 2012 at 11:23 am

Debbie, man girlfriend you took me back to my childhood. I was born the same year when the Brady Bunch debuted on TV. It was fun watching the reruns after school. I had a huge crush on Marsha and loved the Davey Jones episode. Sad that he died of a heart attack because they’re saying that he was in good health. I really liked the song Daydream Believer. My younger sister always confused the Monkies with the Beatles but her brothers (myself included) set her straight. Skunky, thanks hon about that tidbit about David Bowie. I a seeker of little facts like that. And Lee I have The Brady Bunch movie on dvd. I laugh everytime I see that scene with Davy singing and all of the women teachers dancing. Hilarious.

Ken b on March 1, 2012 at 11:44 am

The show advanced the directorial career of Bob Rafelson and others. Neil Diamond was unknown until he began writing their major hits. There wasn’t a popular culture subject that they didn’t spoof in the show’s 3 years. And they would place actually celebrities in untypical roles; I can’t think of where that was done before. Elvis’ used film as a vehicle for music; the Monkees did it better. There was much water-cooler talk after Davy Jones was scripted to perform a prolonged kissing scene with the actress (or whatever) who played Elly Clampet in the Beverly Hillbillies. Nesmith’s mother was co-inventor of “Liquid Paper,” and she gave him a career boost. Jones was known from his stage work in “Oliver,” and other plays. Dolenz was known from his child work in “Circus Boy.” Peter Tork was the only unknown, but he either was or became an excellent musician.

Trivia Q: what music great had to change his name because he was born “David Jones”?

A: David Bowie.

Joe Old on March 1, 2012 at 5:01 pm

A bit more trivia for you:
Jimi hendrix was an opening act on one of the Monkees tours. Not sure how long that lasted :)
Tommy Tadesco, a studio musician, probably the most heard guitar player of all time, who played all the great guitar parts on just about every TV shows theme in the 60′s and up including The Munsters and Bonanza played that really cool Spanish Guitar part in Valerie.

theShadow on March 1, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Debbie,
Thanks for your tribute to Davy Jones.
The Monkees will live on as a unique musical experience, upbeat positive and funny. BTW they made some fine music too, with excellent song writers as pointed out above.

I remember being in Baltimore maybe 20 years ago at the Inner Harbor. We were strolling around after dinner on a warm summer night.We were kinda across the neck of the harbor near the Science Center when we heard a an announcement that the Monkees were going to perform at a stage behind the Aquarium. We went to the edge of the water to see far away the band take there places and begin a song. It was a great evening of entertainment.

Panhandle on March 2, 2012 at 11:34 am

It is said the Neil diamond was unknown until he began writing their main hits. Not a pop culture subject, they didn’t cheat in the program in 3 years. I don’t think so. Thanks your post tell us!

Sony on March 13, 2012 at 4:47 am

It was Mickey who sang ‘Last Train…’

Roberto on August 7, 2012 at 9:20 am

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