NPR logo

Davy Jones, Singer, Actor And Monkee, Has Died

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/147651486/147666239" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Davy Jones, Singer, Actor And Monkee, Has Died

Music Articles

Davy Jones, Singer, Actor And Monkee, Has Died

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/147651486/147666239" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF THE MONKEES SONG, "LOOK OUT, HERE COMES TOMORROW")

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Singer Davy Jones has died. The Monkees front man died this morning in a Florida hospital after suffering a heart attack. He was 66. As NPR's Neda Ulaby reports, Jones was a teen idol. And in the 1960s, he became the nonthreatening face of rock 'n' roll on network television.

NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: Floppy hair, goofy grin - Davy Jones was the kind of rock star a girl could take home to Grandma back in 1966. And that's even how he came across in an NPR interview four decades later - sweet, sincere and mildly idealistic.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

ULABY: He was the British boy in an American band specifically designed to mimic The Beatles, says Ben Greenman. He's the music editor for The New Yorker.

BEN GREENMAN: You know, they were sort of lighter versions of what people saw in other pop stars, so there was slight brooding or, you know, slight sex appeal.

ULABY: Davy Jones was The Monkees' slight sex appeal - and he was slight, at 5-4.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE MONKEES")

ULABY: But Jones was the cute one in the band known as the Prefab Four, and he sang the lead in one of its biggest hits.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE MONKEES SONG, "DAYDREAM BELIEVER")

ULABY: Jones was born in England in 1945, and he got his start as a child actor - first on TV, and then on stage. He gained attention as the Artful Dodger in a London production of "Oliver!" that made its way to New York, and earned him a Tony nomination.

That's how The Monkees came to be. Producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider picked Davy, Micky, Michael and Peter not for their musicianship, but their stage presence. And even though their TV show aired for only two years, it generated eight top-10 hits, and half a dozen songs that everybody knows.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE MONKEES SONG, "DAYDREAM BELIEVER")

ULABY: The Monkees were eviscerated by critics, who accused them of basically being a capitalist conceptual art project. It didn't help that at first, not all of them knew how to play their own instruments. But they got better, says Ben Greenman.

GREENMAN: They used the best session musicians and had access to the best songwriters, and performed fine.

ULABY: Even after The Monkees broke up in 1970, Greenman says Davy Jones came across as deeply - well, affable.

GREENMAN: Happy to be recognized, happy to sing the songs on sitcoms later he appeared on.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE MONKEES SONG, "GIRL")

ULABY: Like when he famously wooed oldest sister Marcia on "The Brady Bunch," in 1971.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE BRADY BUNCH")

ULABY: Some people might recall Marcia refusing to wash her cheek after Davy Jones pecked it.

The Monkees enjoyed a second life in the 1980s, when MTV replayed the series. And Davy Jones continued appearing on TV and radio - on "This is Your Life," "Hollywood Squares," "The Howard Stern Show" and "SpongeBob SquarePants."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS")

ULABY: A few years ago, Davy Jones remembered the appeal of The Monkees as happy and uncomplicated. The music, he said, never promised its listeners anything more.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

ULABY: A reminder, maybe, of what is was like to be a teenager - or a dream of a teenager in a candy-colored, friendly world of pop culture bliss.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE MONKEES SONG, "VALLERI")

ULABY: Neda Ulaby, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "VALLERI")

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.