Someday Man 

Davy Jones, former teen idol and Colonial Downs spokesman, dies at age 66.

Davy Jones, the popular ’60’s teen idol and singer for the band the Monkees, has died at age 66. He passed away this morning of a heart attack in Indiantown, Fla.

In addition to singing on numerous top 10 hits in the late 1960s, such as "Daydream Believer," "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" and "Valleri," the showbiz veteran was a longtime horse trainer and jockey who was, for a time, the official spokesman for Colonial Downs in New Kent County. The diminutive Jones often exercised thoroughbreds and competed in amateur races at the racetrack when he was not performing on tour.

"One of my main goals [as spokesman] is to encourage families to enjoy an afternoon at the races," Jones said in a 2002 statement. “With today's busy lifestyle, families seem to spend less and less time together. A day here at Colonial Downs, or any track for that matter, is a great family alternative. It's inexpensive, safe, and fun.”

The Monkees, with Jones, always enjoyed an enthusiastic following in Richmond. In June 1969, the group's appearance at City Stadium was the largest paid musical event at the Stadium for more than a decade.

Carole Kass, reporting for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, wrote that the band "drove onto the field in a powder blue sedan." She singled out "little perpetual motion machine Davy" for his percussion skills.

Jones' final musical performance in the area was on June 8 of last year, when he and two of his fellow Monkees stars (Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork) celebrated the group's 45th anniversary with a near-sell-out performance at Innsbrook Pavilion. By any stretch, the show (which did not include former member Mike Nesmith) was a commercial and creative success, and the affable front man was clearly having fun on stage, introducing himself at one point as "Davy Jones' dad." His voice sounded as good as it had in many years.

Before he joined the Monkees, Jones had already been a child star of the stage and small screen. He began his career on the popular British TV series, "Coronation Street," and eventually won the role of the Artful Dodger in “Oliver!” in London's West End. When that wildly popular musical traveled to the United States for a run on Broadway, the youngster copped a Tony Award nomination and won a record contract from Colpix Records. In 1964, Jones sang a song from “Oliver!" on the same "Ed Sullivan Show" episode that saw the Beatles make their popular U.S. television debut. He often told interviewers that, when he heard the girls screaming wildly for the popular Liverpool exports, he became anxious for that kind of success.

His wish came true when he was picked to be one of the Monkees, a group that was put together by producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider for an NBC television program that was a clear response to the success of the Beatles. While the Monkees were often derided as "the Prefab Four" due to their synthetic origins, the Emmy-winning TV show propelled them to worldwide fame. One of the biggest fans of the show was John Lennon of the Beatles, who compared the Monkees' antics to that of the Marx Brothers.

Thanks to their TV exposure, the Monkees' recordings -- including hits such as "Last Train to Clarksville" and "I'm a Believer" -- became top sellers, and the baby-faced Jones, the only Brit in the group, became a bona fide teen idol. He would remember, years later: "I got hate letters from girls all over America because I wouldn't go to the prom with them."

In 1967, the Monkees were the hottest thing in popular music, outselling discs by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley. While never considered "hip" to the tastemakers of the emerging counterculture, the group gave an amazing array of notables their first big breaks – including legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix (who opened for the group on tour), actor and screenwriter Jack Nicholson (who helped put together their first and only movie, the cult classic “Head”), director Paul Mazursky (one of the TV show's writers), and songwriters Neil Diamond, Paul Williams, John Stewart, and Harry Nilsson.

Despite rumors to the contrary, the Monkees did play the instruments and provide the vocals for many of their popular recordings and early tours (Jones' axe was normally the tambourine or maracas). But Monkees recordings also included session work from some of the era's best rock musicians, from drummer Hal Blaine and pianist Leon Russell to guitarists Neil Young and Stephen Stills.

While he never again hit the starry heights of his late ’60s career, Jones went back to his musical theater roots several times in the years that followed the band's breakup, and became a perennial guest star on TV shows (including one very memorable appearance on “The Brady Bunch”). He also headlined both solo tours and occasional Monkees reunions. In 1986, thanks to reruns of their old television show on MTV, the Monkees became popular all over again to another generation of teenagers. “The Monkees are like the mafia,” he once said when asked about the members' occasional feuds over the years. “You're in for life. Nobody gets out.”

In December 2008, Yahoo Music proclaimed Davy Jones to be “the No. 1 Teen Idol of All Time."

He is survived by his widow, Jessica, and four daughters.


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