Posted by: Kerry Gans | March 1, 2012

Curtain Closed: Goodbye to Davy Jones of the Monkees

My favorite photo of Davy

When I heard the news of Davy’s death, I was stunned. A weight settled in my chest, and the world turned surreal. I had trouble concentrating on my work, but luckily a toddler and a deadline are great motivators. And while I will shed a few tears for Davy tonight, my thoughts are with those whose grief is deep and searing—his wife and his four daughters, Talia, Sarah, Jessica, and Annabel.

I never thought Davy would be the first to go. He was the youngest Monkee, and always seemed the most fit. His off-stage life with his horses kept him athletic and strong. A heart attack makes no sense, but then death rarely does.

Much of the public never considered the Monkees a “serious” band, even though they were astronomically popular. Many people who only knew Davy as a Monkee wave him off with a snort. They don’t know that he had serious bona fides—he was a rising Broadway star before the Monkees got him. Davy was nominated for a Tony award for his role as the Artful Dodger in Oliver! He was on The Ed Sullivan Show the same day the Beatles were. You don’t get to those places without having something special.

Davy was my favorite Monkee. When my friends and I were in high school and college, we followed the Monkees as they toured. Whenever they came near, we were there—from New York to Virginia, from the wilds of New Jersey to the environs of Philadelphia. We called ourselves the Monkettes, made two halfway decent parody albums, and two completely cringeworthy videos. So, yes, we were groupies.

I got to be Davy because I was short and could do a passable English accent.

While the three Monkees who toured together (Mike Nesmith declined) treated their fans well, Davy always went the extra mile. He would stand outside the stage door until every fan got an autograph or picture, and never once look at his watch. In spite of the mass of fans around us, he had the talent of giving you his full attention for those few minutes he was with you. One time, my friends and I went to the hotel where the Monkees were staying after their concert. It had poured rain at the outdoor concert, and we were all soaked. When Davy noticed two particularly drenched girls shivering and shaking in the lobby, he had hot tea sent down to them.

A consummate performer, Davy never cancelled a show to my knowledge. One time, my friend Donna H. and I went to Long Island’s Jones Beach to see him do an open-air solo concert. He got about six songs in when a huge thunderstorm blew in from the ocean and caused a literal sandstorm before the deluge. To this day I firmly believe he would have stood there singing through it all if his band members hadn’t all disappeared when the lightning started.

When I was in college, my friend Donna L. and I went to WHYY studios to watch Davy tape the Don Kirschner Rock Awards infomercial. The filming dragged on and on and on. The audience wilted with fatigue. But Davy kept going. He joked with the audience during the down times, he stepped up whenever the cameras turned on, and he never wavered throughout that arduous filming session. He was a professional through and through, even though he had to be as exhausted as we all were.

Don Kirschner Rock Awards - May 22, 1990

Davy lived to be onstage. The audience jazzed him up, always, and he clearly gave us everything he had every time I saw him—which was too many times to count. He loved to interact with the audience, both onstage and off. He gloried in the spotlight.

Some people might have called this ego, or hubris. I never saw it that way. Davy Jones was supremely confident in who he was and what he did. Onstage he was magnetic and full of fun. Offstage he was warm and personable. Often irreverent, occasionally bawdy, he wore who he was right out there for all to see because he was secure in himself. He might have been only 5’4”, but he stood far taller than that in person.

Davy lived his life without apology and without regret. He made his living doing the things he loved most, and most people don’t get to do that. He was one of the lucky ones, and he knew it. I believe that was why he loved the stage so much, loved his fans so much. Because he understood that they were the reason he had risen from apprentice jockey to Monkee superstar.

Davy at Great Adventure 9-7-1987

Davy Jones didn’t need to be a daydream believer—he made all of his come true.

Curtains closed, Davy.

I hope you can hear the standing ovation.

Advertisements

Responses

  1. I was sorry to hear about his passing. He was my favorite Monkey and my first crush (I was age 13). Sometimes though if you have heart disease in your family, you can get heart problems even if you do everything right. I am hoping he went to a good place and that wherever he went, he is still singing.
    Popple

    Like

    • Thanks, Popple. From what I know of his parents and sisters, there was no heart disease in the family. But everyone knows sometimes theses things happen for no apparent reason. I am sure he is rocking in Heaven with my best friend Donna, who was likely waiting for him at the Heavenly stage door when he arrived!

      Like

  2. I was so sorry about Davy Jones… I remember you and your friends’ love for him and the Monkees. I wish his family could see your piece, Kerry.

    Like

    • Thanks, A. Carolee. He was a large part of my life for a long time. And the internet is strange–it’s possible one of his family will see this someday.

      Like

  3. to davy, my english hanuman

    RIP DAVY JONES

    when you were a simple monkey
    asked to deliver a single bud,
    you brought a field of asian amber flush.
    your unbridled devotion
    thrust you to monkey god.

    now, you divinely intervene
    and bring me messages of him.

    i find him in a soup kitchen
    baking apple bread in a
    t-shirt depicting two quarreling
    monkeys captioned,
    “double talk.”

    he loves me and focuses on
    monkees rerun marathons
    late into the night preserving
    our chaste, intimate love.
    tonight’s virgin viewing is
    in your honor
    and cinematic eulogy,
    davy.

    humming your swanee river,
    i shiver with relief that
    my heart no longer attacks.

    thank you,
    for the anthem bouquets
    of my youth.

    Like

    • Nice poem, Veronica! Thanks for sharing.

      Like

      • nice blog post, kerry! 🙂

        Like

  4. Wonderful wonderful words that could only be expressed so graciously by your pen. I always loved Mike but thought Davy was the sweetest. This was my generation of tv and my favorite show I watched every week…the original music videos!

    Like

    • Thanks, Robin! Although many media historians will say that the Beatles movies were the first music videos (I agree), the Monkees TV show popularized them in the mainstream. Mike Nesmith continued the music video tradition, which is why his Elephant Parts won the first Grammy for music videos.

      Like

  5. AWESOME Kerry! Love you as a Monkette and your photo with him! WOW. Great memories

    Like

    • Thanks, Donna! Yes, we had some really great times together following “the guys” as we called them. Those advetures are one of the reasons I loved high school so much!

      Like

  6. Beautiful post, Kerry! It reflects your passion, too, for life, for the arts, for excellence.

    Like

    • Thanks, Lisa! I do love an artist who works hard to give his or her best every time out–no matter what art form it is.

      Like

  7. Very nice tribute to one of the greats of pop culture. Puts my few sentence tribute to shame lol.

    Like

    • Thanks, Denim. I wouldn’t have been able to write so much if my experiences with him hadn’t been so numerous. So many more memories I could have shared… He was a class act.

      Like

  8. What an awesome post, Ker! Ditto for me.
    (Wait! What do you mean “halfway decent”?) :p

    Like

    • Glad you liked it, Mama Nes! You even got a photo cred (even though I didn’t actually PUT a photo cred), since that was your awesome pic from Great Adventure. And I was being suitably modest with the “halfway decent”! 😉

      Like

  9. You and I have seen what time does, haven’t we?
    We both had time to grow, you know,
    We’ve got more growing to do, me and you,
    And the rest of them, too.

    Like

  10. Kerry, I finally got a chance to read this. Thanks for sharing your memories of him, so we could see him afresh through your eyes. But I think my favorite thing you wrote was in the comments, that Donna was waiting for him at the Heavenly stage door. That is what finally brought a tear.

    Like

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Kathryn. I think the thing that makes losing Davy so sad is largely the memories tied to him of my friends and I. As long as the Monkees were still around, a piece of that time still lived on. We could go to a concert and Donna would be there with us in spirit. Now that can never be again, and one more connection has been severed.

      Like

  11. […] you know me at all, you know I’m a huge Monkees fan. I was devastated when Davy Jones died earlier this year, because I was sure I’d never see another Monkees concert again. […]

    Like


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: