Davy Jones (1945-2012)

Davy Jones, the biggest heart-throb of the Monkees, passed away on Wednesday after suffering a heart attack at his ranch in Indiantown, FL.

Jones had last performed on February 19 and was said to be in good health. A farmhand called paramedics on Wednesday morning after Davy complained of not feeling well and shortness of breath. He was rushed to a hospital in Stuart, FL where he was pronounced dead.

Jones was a multi-talented performer. At the age of 11, he started his acting career on the soap opera Coronation Street followed by the British crime series Z-Cars. His mother passed away when he was 14 and he decided to leave acting to become a jockey.

A couple of years later, Jones was approached to take on the role of the Artful Dodger in the London West End production of Oliver!, taking over for the part's originator, Martin Horsey. He later transferred to Broadway where he was nominated for a Tony Award. On February 9, 1964, he performed on the Ed Sullivan Show with the cast, the same night that the Beatles made their first appearance. The experience changed his life.

Jones signed with Screen Gems where he appeared as a guest star on a couple of TV series and recorded an album for their subsidiary Colpix. This led to his being cast in late-1965 as one of the Monkees, a "manufactured" group that would star in a television show about the fictitious group's life, ala the Beatles' A Hard Day's Night. Don Kirshner took on production of their initial music and only let the four leads (Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork and Jones) sing but not play instruments. An early decision to make Jones the lead singer (later revoked) created an early tension in the group that would rear its head many times in the subsequent years.

The group's first single, Last Train to Clarksville (with Dolenz on lead) was released in the month before the TV show's premier and became a major hit, hitting number 1. The show debuted on September 12, 1966 and, before the end of the year, the group scored a second major hit with I'm a Believer (Pop #1/Britain #1) and the chart topping album The Monkees.

By late-1966, relations between the group and Kirshner had broken down, with the boys demanding more input in the recording process and being able to play their own instruments. In January, 1967, the dispute went nuclear when Colgems released their second album, More of the Monkees, without their knowing it or having any input. By February of 1967, Kirshner was gone and the Monkees began making their own musical decisions.

The next three albums (Headquarters, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. and The Birds, the Bees and the Monkees) were more experimental with a variety of musical styles. They also started the slow downfall of the group's recording career. The first two went to number 1 but the third only made it to 3 and would be the group's last top ten album. The hits also started to drop off with Headquarters not producing any hits and the other two providing one each (Pleasant Valley Sunday and Daydream Believer).

By the time the show finished its second and final season, the group was pretty much recording their contributions to the albums separately. Each had their own idea of a direction with Jones being most interested in large production numbers as he was used to on Broadway. Peter Tork bought out his contract in 1969 and the three remaining members went out as a trio, making a number of TV appearances.

In March of 1970, Michael Nesmith left the group and Dolenz and Jones went on to continue to record under the Monkees name as a duo. When their contracts ran out in 1971, they even lost the use of the Monkees name.

Jones went on as a solo artist and, for a time, in a group with Dolenz and Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. He also continued acting, doing guest stints on a number of shows. There were also various reunions of the group that were notorious for the in-fighting between the members, capped by their successful 2011 tour that was cut short at the end.

He is survived by his third wife, Jessica Pacheco and four daughters from his two earlier marriages.

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