[Davy Jones, frontman of ‘60s pop band The Monkees, died earlier today after suffering a massive heart attack in Indiantown, Florida. Jones was 66-years old.
The singer and part-time Santa Barbara resident spoke with Independent last July in anticipation of The Monkees’ 45th Anniversary Tour, when he discussed his longtime love of S.B., and his familial ties to the area. The interview appears in full below.]
Good news, Monkees junkies: It’s time to get your paisley-emblazoned velvet tunic and board the last train to Santa Ynez, because this Thursday the hippie, happy boys in the famous ’60s band will be appearing at the Chumash Casino.
The upcoming valley visit will be a one-night stop on the guys’ 45th Anniversary Tour, a multimedia show featuring three of the original members of the pop-rock quartet—Davy Jones, Peter Tork, and Micky Dolenz. In addition to performing hits, including “I’m A Believer,” “Last Train to Clarksville,” “Daydream Believer,” and “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone,” the trio will also do songs from their cult-classic movie, Head. Of the reunion concert tour (the band’s first in a decade), Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone said, “It’s hard to imagine anybody disappointed by it, unless they just plain hate life.”
The Monkees were originally a made-for-TV band, cobbled together in 1966 for the program of the same name. A musical comedy series echoing the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night, The Monkees was about the zany mishaps, antics, and adventures of four members of a struggling rock band. The show was written with the already-existing Los Angeles band Lovin’ Spoonful in mind, but when they didn’t work out, creators put out an ad for “four insane boys” in Variety. Out of the woodwork came the musical goof-niks who ultimately made up the group, and the rest, as they say, is pop music history.
Eventually, of course, the foursome managed to turn the television concept into a fully functional, self-contained musical group that created and produced catchy, phenomenally successful tunes. They scored a dozen Billboard Top 40 hits, outselling both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in 1967, as well as Top 10 hits in more than 25 countries.
“Everybody knows The Monkees,” Jones told me from the band’s tour bus as the guys were en route to Detroit. In addition to his singing and tambourine talents, the 5’3” Jones held the position of pocket-pin-up for the group.
“I used to be a heartthrob, but now I’m a coronary!” he laughed. “We’re just having a great time, though, now, Micky, Peter, and I. The audiences are really enjoying what we’re doing. It’s a two-hour show with all the hits, plus many songs we’ve never done onstage before.”
About the missing Monkee on this tour, Mike Nesmith (“Nez” to his fans), Jones explained, “Mike is not road-worthy, really. We’re all in our sixties now. He couldn’t be on this bus right now. He’d want to take his private jet, like the Eagles do.”
For Jones, the Santa Barbara appearance will be a homecoming of sorts, as he first lived in this area beginning in 1974, when he and his then-wife, Linda, moved here to raise their two daughters. While the now Beaverton, PA, resident no longer calls Santa Barbara home, he added that he “never totally left.”
“I have a place at the polo fields. I like to visit Santa Barbara. Two of my daughters live there still, where they grew up. What better place to live your life than Santa Barbara?”
Born and raised in Manchester, England, Jones had a career as a child actor there (on TV and in West End theater) before arriving in the United States in 1962 to appear in Broadway’s Oliver (a role that won the 16-year-old a Tony Award nomination). In 1964, he landed on The Ed Sullivan Show (the same night the Beatles made their first appearance), singing a song from Oliver, and wondering, as he put it, “What am I going to do after this?”
A year later, his question was answered when he signed up as the first Monkee. When three other appealing gents were found, “We instantly clicked,” Jones recalled. The resulting TV show, with one of the most hummable theme songs ever written, ran for two years and captured two Emmys. After it was cancelled, each Monkee went on to pursue individual artistic endeavors, but the band reformed from time to time over the decades for new albums, tours, and TV specials.
“Whenever we want to get together, we do,” Jones said. “It works. We have a great time still! Some people like to have fun and not be so serious. Micky, Peter, and I get together either on the bus, in the hotel, or we sit down to breakfast, and it’s like a TV show itself. It’s forever 21 when we get together.”
The Monkees’ tour has taken them to dozens of cities all over the United Kingdom, Canada, and the U.S., but the upcoming visit to the Chumash Casino has a unique appeal and a promise.
“I like it because it’s over there, near where Michael [Jackson] had his place,” Jones said. “We’re playing all kinds of places, but out there it’s immediately intimate when we walk onstage. We’re all very ordinary, you know? Until the curtain opens ….”
The Monkees’ 45th Anniversary Tour stops at the Chumash Casino Resort (3400 E. Highway 246) on Thursday, July 14, 2011, at 8 p.m. Call 1-800-CHUMASH or visit chumashcasino.com for tickets.