Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Monkees Business

When I was in the third grade, back in the late 1960s, several friends of mine and I auditioned for an annual school talent show. If I recall correctly, I was joined in that venture by David Grassle, Eric Hoffman, and Stanley Monroe. Should my memory be at fault here, however, I hope that those three former friends will forgive my implicating them in this fiasco.

In any event, most of us had participated together in the previous year’s talent demonstration, performing the novelty hit “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron.” Although we didn’t win that contest, we received enough encouragement that we tried out again the next year. This time we sang The Monkees’ 1966 chart smasher, “I’m a Believer.” Once more, we poured our hearts into the number, accompanying it with tambourines and other noisemakers, but we weren’t good enough to make the talent cut for a second time in a row. We had to watch later as others (considerably less gifted, we believed) entertained the talent show audience in our stead.

I was reminded of that episode as I read that Englishman Davy Jones, once The Monkees’ lead singer, died today of a heart attack in Florida at age 66. As Entertainment Weekly recalls,
Jones joined the Monkees in 1965 along with Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork. Their hits include “I’m a Believer,” “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone,” “Daydream Believer,” and “Last Train to Clarksville.”

Jones left the band in 1970, according to their Web site. He went on to land a solo hit, “Rainy Jane,” the next year, and also made several TV appearances, including a late 1971 episode of
The Brady Bunch.

Jones reunited with Tork and Dolenz for a tour in the mid-1980s, and in 1987 they released a new record,
Pool It.
It’s said that Al Roker, co-host of NBC-TV’s Today Show, who interviewed Jones and his bandmates last summer, posted a note to his Twitter page--after hearing of the singer’s demise--that read simply, “A little bit of my youth just died.” I feel the same way.

So in Jones’ memory, I am embedding a video of The Monkees singing “I’m a Believer” at the top of this post, with another of them belting out “Last Train to Clarksville” below.

UPDATE: This coming weekend will offer two televised tributes to Davy Jones. Antenna TV stations across the United States will celebrate the actor-singer’s life on Saturday, beginning at 1 p.m. ET with a showing of Head, the 1968 comedy-adventure film starring The Monkees, and follow that with a 58-episode marathon of the TV show The Monkees. (Click here to see if there’s an Antenna station in your area.) Then on Sunday, Me-TV will recap Jones’ career some more, beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET, with episodes of The Brady Bunch and Love, American Style in which Jones guest starred.

READ MORE:Davy Jones: Four Zany Moments, from Brady Bunch to SpongeBob,” by Joy Press (Los Angeles Times); “Hard to Believe: The Death of Davy Jones,” by Mercurie (A Shroud of Thoughts); “Davy Jones Dead: Monkees Singer’s Greatest Movie Moments” (Moviefone); “Oh, What Can It Mean?,” by Dave Knadler (Dave’s Fiction Warehouse); “Davy Jones: When It Came to Monkee Business, He Showed Up Smiling,” by Robert Lloyd (Los Angeles Times); “Davy Jones and the Monkees: The Irresistible Connection,” by Michael Carlson (Irresistible Targets); “The Late Great Davy Jones,” by Mercurie (A Shroud of Thoughts); “The Monkees: The Revenge and Resurrection of Tin Pan Alley,” by Kevin Courrier (Critics at Large).

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