Davy Jones of The Monkees dies at 66
The singer suffered a massive heart attack in his home in Indiantown, FL, according to his publicist.
The diminutive singer, born in 1945 in Manchester, England, came to America to pursue an acting career following an stint as a horse racing jockey, but ended up the de facto leader of The Monkees, U.S. television's response to The Beatles. The show was devised by filmmakers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, who were hoping to capitalize on the success with American movie audiences of The Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night." Paired with Mike Nesmith, Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork, the four became household names almost overnight following the show's launch in 1966, portraying the wacky adventures of a band living together in a clubhouse-type environment, with musical interludes interspersed at regular intervals in each episode.
Jones was the most obvious Beatles influence, with his mop-top hair and English accent, and drew the lion's share of fans initially, but the band -- originally a pure creation of TV -- began to soar in popularity across the world, and launched major tours of the U.S. and Europe in 1967.
As success came, and detractors emerged to deride the band as mere pretenders who didn't even play their own instruments, The Monkees worked hard to improve their offscreen craft, and eventually began to assume control of their own music, even as the show's ratings began to slip. Although the band found early commercial success -- at one time achieving four No. 1 albums in a one-year span and spawning numerous Top 10 singles, including "Daydream Believer" and "Last Train to Clarksville" -- aside from vocals, the band didn't start to appear in music released as The Monkees until 1967's "Headquarters."
A feature film, "Head," followed after the show went off the air in 1968, and the band weathered the departure of Tork in 1969 before Nesmith quit a year later, effectively ending the group. But Jones and Dolenz carried on in various forms for several years -- sometimes including songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, who had been responsible for several of their early hits -- in shows during the mid-'70s. The big reunion came in 1986, when Jones, Tork and Dolenz teamed up for a world tour, and were eventually rejoined by Nesmith for the band's Hollywood Walk of Fame star dedication ceremony. A new single, "That Was Then, This Is Now," rode a wave of Monkees nostalgia in 1986 to the No. 20 spot on the Billboard 200.
The band, without Nesmith, continued touring through 1989, when they again went their separate ways. The band has reunited on several occasions since the 1989 tour, generally consisting of Jones, Tork and Dolenz, and usually ending with the band members barely on speaking terms with each other. Just last year, the band set out on a 45th anniversary trek that ended prematurely, "due to internal group issues and conflicts."
"David's spirit and soul live well in my heart, among all the lovely people, who remember with me the good times, and the healing times, that were created for so many, including us," Nesmith wrote today on his Facebook wall.
Jones is survived by his wife Jessica and four daughters from previous marriages.