Davy Jones (1945-2012)

Imagine me in third grade, a rare cancellation of a Cub Scouts meeting resulting in extra nighttime TV viewing. I think it was 1986 when MTV began airing reruns of The Monkees, a television comedy series of which I’d never heard or known. My parents, though, had very amused looks about their faces, the types of warm smiles you’d see on people as they greeted familiar friends. It was the episode where The Monkees inexplicably wound up in a ghost town, which, (if I remember correctly), was being used as a hideout by some crooks. The humor was slapstick, perfectly suited for a 9 year old. I thought the show was funny and that was pretty much the extent of it.

My record collection began with this tape.
As time went on, I wound up really getting into the show, which developed into an obsession with the music. Once I discovered my father had some Monkees records stacked in his hard rock treasure trove of 60s/70s vinyl on our third floor, I camped out in front of the turntable basically for the next year or so of my childhood up until my parents divorced and the house was sold. (Not to digress, but this is when I truly began to listen to music: The Beatles and Zeppelin, Hendrix and Janis. My Dad’s static-heavy albums, dusty and overplayed, meant hours of pretending to be a member of any band, faking drum beats with #2 pencils and strumming an unplugged Strat I’d gotten from a neighborhood friend when he’d upgraded to a neon yellow C.C. DeVille-style Ibanez.) I spun those records for hours on end and my first musical purchase was a Monkees compilation on cassette, The Monkees Greatest Hits. I even got to see The Monkees perform at Veteran Stadium during a Temple Owls football game. It was my first concert and one of the most exciting nights of my pre-adolescent life. For maybe two or three years, The Monkees were all I wanted to hear and I would spout lengthy testimony, confirming my undying devotion, testing the patience of any man, woman or child that had the misfortune to offer me an ear.

Looking back on it, I was fucking obnoxious. But, I’d been affected by music for the first time in my life, so the experience was visceral and occupied my every waking thought. According to my super narrow and very young perspective, The Monkees were the perfect band (even if they weren’t for real).

News came today that Davy Jones, the closest of the cast to mimic The Beatles, (dreamboat, good voice, British), suffered a heart attack at 66 and passed away.

While I’ve long since outgrown my Monkees fixation, certain albums I still revisit, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd. and the Head soundtrack being two of my all-time favorites. Head, which was the over the top psychedelic comedy that essentially destroyed the group’s career, I highly regard as an art film very ahead of its time and bleakly illustrative of how trapped by fame the so-called “Prefab Four” felt. Inasmuch as they’d been developed and manufactured for prime time television, a mod 60s era Marx Brothers based in the comedic exploits of a fake rock band, they fought for credibility at the expense of their own success.

Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., behind glass.

Davy Jones, who prior to his stint as a Monkee had had aspirations of being a jockey, will remain one of the figures in my life that helped me gain an appreciation for music. To him and the surviving other three, Michael Nesmith, Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork, you have my thanks.

Rest in peace, Davy Jones.

Letters From A Tapehead


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