Posted January, 2010
As a kid in the sixties, I LOVED watching The Monkees. There was something about the fun that Davy, Michael, Mickey and Peter exuded from the TV screen that left their viewers and fans with no choice but to smile along with them.
Even after the show was cancelled from its Monday night line-up, the band (yes, they could really play their instruments) enjoyed a loyal following. This was helped to a certain degree by the Saturday morning re-runs of theirs shows and the release of new albums.
The Monkees still have that loyal following and to help fill the need for a Monkee fix is Davy Jones, arguably THE heart throb of the band. Because of his British accent and charm, along with the looks that made girls swoon, Jones commanded the bulk of the attention the band received.
I recently chatted by phone with Davy to learn more about what fans can expect from his Dallas area appearance with David Cassidy on February 6th of this year. Honestly? I was expecting a by-the-numbers interview where in this icon of the Broadway, TV, and concert stages would try hard to tolerate questions that he’s had to have heard a million times before.
I was wrong. I laughed. Hard. I laughed a lot. After the call, I felt like I maybe should have paid the price for admission just to have laughed as hard as I did.
Jones started our conversation off by filling me in on a little historical background about the Monkees being followed by David Cassidy and The Partridge Family after Monkees’s show was cancelled. This was helped along by the fact that both shows were produced by Screen Gems.
Davy said, speaking of David, “I had actually known his father, Jack Cassidy, back in New York, in the sixties as well as Shirley Jones. I was on Broadway in Oliver. He was all part of that little click with Jack Cassidy and Shirley Jones. It was Judy Garland and Tony Newly; Dudley Moore, Joan Collins, Peggy Lee, Buddy Rich.
“Oh my goodness! It was like, Judy Garland was good friends with Georgia Brown. Georgia Brown was Nancy in Oliver. She put me under her wing like I was her little man. I was only sixteen at the time. We always use to go over to Judy’s apartment on Central Park West and they got into whatever they got into. I wanted to be JUST like them. By the time I was seventeen years old, I was well into gin and tonics, you know?
I’m thinking, “This is it. I’m just like everyone else!” It wasn’t until I saw Judy Garland go around the revolving door at the Russian Tea Room three times, trying to find her way out, that I realized, “I don’t think I want to be like that!”
“I sang with her at Carnegie Hall and that was cool. It was all about the time that I was on the Ed Sullivan Show in ’64 – the night the Beatles were on. I did a song from Oliver. That was when I first thought, ‘Ah! Music! It’s good, all these girls! I think I’ll have a piece of that (fame), actually!’ That’s why I got into what I got into.
“As I said, Jack Cassidy and Shirley Jones was all part of that click and it was like, ‘Goodness gracious, me!’ Years later, David shows up on the lot at Columbia Pictures, he’s in a TV series and his mum there. And he’s like, ‘Oh, my goodness gracious!’
Obviously relishing the nostalgic memories of youthful innocence, Davy continues:
“It was all good – very incestuous, in a sense. It’s all from the same little mold, you know? We all hung out together back in the 60’s with the Grass Roots, the Turtles, the Association and the Beach Boys. It used to be that we’d all be going to the same parties and, pretty much, dating the same girls.
“All of a sudden, we’d be saying, ‘We’re going to knock you off the charts next week. Don’t you worry!’ It was like – you wouldn’t imagine Bobby Riddell pulling a gun on Fabian, could you? ‘Hey, man! Get off the charts!’
“I approached David (Cassidy) and said, ‘Come on, man! You and I!’” He and I had been, like, vying for All Time Teen Idol Celebrity for thirty years. So I said, ‘Why don’t go out as the Ultimate Idol?’
“So, Dallas is going to be good (where he appears with Cassidy). And we also had a date in Staten Island or somewhere like that. We talked about it. I think that we’re going to work together. It brings people in and gives them a lot of nostalgia.”
Sliding in a little humor, Jones humorously makes light of the ages that his high profile generation:
“He (Cassidy) sings, ‘I think I love me, what am so I afraid of?’ Tony Orlando sings, ‘Knock three times on the ceiling if you hear me fall”. Peter Noone singings, ‘Mrs. Brown, you have a lovely walker’. Roberta Flack sings, ‘The first time I ever forgot your face.’ And Willie Nelson’s on the throne again. All this stuff is, like, ridiculous. Ringo Starr sings, ‘I get a little help from Depends.’ It gets crazy. Paul Simon sings, ’50 ways to lose your liver’ and Abba is singing ‘Denture Queen’.
I’m sure that these take this as all being in good humor . . . don’t they?
“People will look at me when I’m in the super market and they’ll say, ‘Do you know who you are?’ And I say, ‘What? Was I dead or something?’ They’re looking out the window to see if my Rolls Royce and my driver are there and they’re wondering why I haven’t moon walked into the cheese department.
“It’s like, ‘Sorry, this is the real man!’ I keep race horses and I keep myself fit. I can’t believe that I’m 60-friggin’-4. It’s ridiculous. I go places and people go, ‘You look just the way that you did!’ And I go, ‘Did when?’
Circling back to his Ultimate Idol idea, Jones excitedly shares information about his pet project.
“We’re putting together an Ultimate Idol tour. We’re actually going on a cruise ship with (cruise ship company) Costa and it’s going to be produced by Ron Dante, who produced The Archies and The Cufflinks. He produced Cher, Pat Benatar, Barry Manilow. He’s been a friend of mine for years. He and I have been in the studio cutting some songs lately, finding a couple of nice things that look and sound like they could be pretty good.
“Barry Williams from the Brady Bunch is going to be with us. Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods and a couple of tribute bands – The Beatles and The Grass Roots. We’re going from the 3rd thru the 9th of April out of Fort Lauderdale. It’s all be on my website, www.davyjones.net and it gives the instructions and information. We’ll do a question and answer thing; we do an autograph thing; we do a night in a night club where we’ll jam and play. Barry does one, I do one and Ron Dante does one. Bo Donaldson backs us up and plays. We’ve got great musicians! It’s all going to be wonderful.
Bringing the conversation back around to the Dallas appearance, Davy says, “David and I love the fans. It’s going to be great! I’ll obviously sing Clarksville, I’m A Believer and Pleasant Valley, I Want To Be Free, Stepping Stone, and Daydream Believer.
“You know, all of the songs were written by Carol King, Neil Diamond, Neil Sedaka and Harry Nilsson. The credentials of the music is sort of the who’s who in the industry. Consequently, it’s not hard to go out there and do what I do.
Talking again about his age, Jones jokes, “But it’s not just about the songs, though. The first thing I say when I go out there is, ‘Hello, everybody! Good evening! I’m Davy’s dad. Davy will be out here in a minute!’ And then it starts there. I’ve got my wife Telemundo star, Jessica Pacheco), standing on the stage, winding her arm around, saying, ‘Get on with it! Sing a song!”
“I do schtick, I talk and tell jokes, telling how I got there that evening and how long it took. I’ll talk about the taxi driver. It just comes to me and I feel so familiar with the audience. They don’t go there to judge me. They go there to be entertained and enjoy and listen to the familiar material and all of that stuff. It’s a doddle – it’s easy!
“The part of it that’s not easy is to try to not be repetitive with everything you do and say. Obviously, the little dialog I mentioned, talking about Abba and Tony Orlando and all of them – yeah, there’s little sets and little dialogs that I have. But I try to say it in a different way and make the band laugh and have a great time. Whether it be from an expression on my face or the words I say. I make fun of the band and I talk about the past and I talk about falling in love three times in every episodes and getting stars in my eyes; being the centerfold in 16 Magazine.
“It all sounds a little bit ‘nothing’ but once you put it all together, it’s an evening of nostalgia – Monkee memories. It’s something I lived. I DID go to Birdland with Buddy Rich and I did sort of sing with Judy Garland. I did lunch with Elizabeth Taylor. It’s a name dropping thing at the time but there’s a story behind every one of those occasions. And I try to make it fun and funny and informative; to let people see the human – the ordinary side of who they are listening and looking at.”
I brought up a quote by Jones when asked about why a Monkees reunion tour wasn’t going to happen. The net/net of the quote was that it wouldn’t happen because the rest of the group are “serious” now and that Davy likes to inject large amounts of self-deprecating humor and such into the shows. He reminded the interview that humor was what the Monkees were all about. I concluded the reminder by saying that, while our generation doesn’t want to live in the past, we don’t want to forget about it, either.
“Yeah, that’s the thing. I go on stage now and, obviously, I make fun of the fact that Peter joined a one man band but gave it up for musical differences. About Mickey Dolenz, I say, ‘Since he doesn’t have any hair now, how does he know when to wash his face?’; whatever it takes to make the crowd laugh.
“The idea is that I WOULD go out and do the Monkees again if we would do the Monkees. I play the guitar. Mickey plays the guitar. Peter plays about twelve instruments – at once, I might add, if you know what I mean. And the idea would be, if we’re not going to do the Monkees, I don’t want to do it – I don’t want to go out.
“I can go out with musicians I know and give them parts to play, okay? And present a show that I know is going to be entertaining.
“I was approached (for the Monkees) to go to Europe. The Monkees went to about 36 countries around the world where the TV show was shown. So, there’s a vast audience who has never seen us live.
“The odds of getting Mike Nesmith involved is another story altogether. Mike is involved with other stuff and he’s not really into performing. He doesn’t like to play on stage that much. So, you can understand that. He’s 66 years old or thereabouts. He doesn’t want to go out there and be a Monkee.
“I go out and I perform. I refer to the Monkees. I sing Monkee tunes and I also sing Nat King Cole and swing music and I sing country music – all kinds of stuff.”
At this point in the conversation, Jones drops this little nugget:
“I was approached just this week by a company in Las Vegas about giving us a residency as the Monkees. Just like Elton John. Just like Cher. Just like Bette Midler. Just like a lot of people have done. So that the people come to you. It makes it easier.
“John Lennon said years ago, ‘I don’t want to be 40 years old, wearing a silver suit, playing in Vegas, you know?’ He also said that the Monkees didn’t sing like the Beatles they were more like the Marx Brothers, which was a compliment. Thank you very much, John!
“The thing would be that people are doing that now. As you get older, travelling becomes harder. It’s more difficult, especially in the winter months. You get people to come see you. It’s not what it used to be. It’s the entertainment capital of the world. There are more shows and more entertainers go there to perform because the people come to them!
Becoming more verbally animated, Davy excitedly continues to describe the concept.
“It would be great to go there for three months and put on a show. Use film, use footage, use sets. You know, reset the Monkees living room and work it out of there and give them a show! Just like the Jersey Boys, they’re going to do it eventually anyway. They’re going to put the Monkee thing back together because the songs all hold up and they’re great songs. So, they’ll eventually do it so why don’t WE do it?”
Jones’ foot is nowhere near the brake on this topic.
“I don’t want to tour around the country with two other grumpy old men, you know what I’m saying? Because, you know, they go through their menopause about every two weeks. Forget it! It’s not easy. You feel one way and you look at yourself in another. And so I try to put the fun into my performance. I’m not inhibited by anything. I’ve been to the top of the mountain, okay?
“The Monkees was such a successful idea. I don’t need to escape anything. I just need to include other things. I’ll sing some theater. I’ll sing a medley of Oliver songs. Or I’ll sing something from West Side Story. And I won’t feel uncomfortable or like I’m throwing it down people’s neck. I’m just adding to the schedule of the show and be entertaining. I talk. I talk about things that have happened to me and about things that will happen to me. I make it as tough as I can for the next act who comes into that theater. They better be good if they come after me, okay? I’ll probably be going on first so Cassidy better start thinking about it!” Jones concludes with a laugh. He later adds, “If you enjoyed the show, tell everybody. If you didn’t, tell them it was David Cassidy!”
I happen to know that, while Davy and his lovely wife, Jessica, lend their celebrity to a lot of charity work, they also quietly lend a hand to charities in much lower key ways. It’s a belief that those good deeds done in relative secrecy will be openly rewarded. Not a bad philosophy to live by, don’t you think?
Another bit of trivia that some Davy Jones fans might not be aware of is that he is quite the hands-on equestrian. He’s quite proud of the fact that He feeds his horses and grooms them himself. He was also quite complementary the thoroughbred breeding operation of his peer, David Cassidy though Jones is quick to point out that Cassidy is on a different, more expensive level than he is. That said, as our conversation was winding up, Jones was about to head out the door and to the barn to feed his babies.
As we closed, Davy Jones did something that caught me completely and pleasantly off guard. He encouraged me to keep on keeping on with my work with Boomerocity. While I wasn’t looking for encouragement, it was quite a welcome comment coming from someone who is an icon of my youth.
I guess that now makes me a Daydream Believer. How cool is that?
You can find out where Davy Jones is going to appear near you by going to www.davyjones.net. If you plan to be in the Dallas area on February 6th, why not plan to catch a rare opportunity to catch both Davy and David Cassidy in concert? It is certain to be quite a nice addition to the memories we all love.