Davy Jones of The Monkees has died from an apparent heart attack. He was 66 years old.
Forty-six years ago, The Monkees' bass and keyboard player Peter Tork met Jones (vocals and tambourine) in Los Angeles. They and about 400 other guys had responded to a casting call for a TV comedy about a band modeled on the most successful band of the British Invasion, The Beatles.
The band, assembled by two sitcom producers, got acquainted on the job. Tork recalls that the newly-formed crew all stopped at a diner and ordered their food at the same time. He and drummer Mickey Dolenz got their salads first.
"When my salad came I just stuck my fork in the bowl and put it in my mouth and Jonesy, he said, 'You pigs! Anybody would think youse guys were raised in a barn, the way youse was eatin’.'"
When Davy Jones’ salad came, Tork remembers that he cut the lettuce into one-inch strips and then cut those strips neatly into one inch squares. He slowly poured blue cheese dressing on it "mixed it carefully ‘til every one inch square was covered in it, and then reached into the bowl with his hand and then smashed it into his face."
Tork chuckled as he recalled the episode. "I think he probably felt he’d come down too hard on us and wanted to break the tension, who knows what. But he was a funny, funny guy. One of the greatest funny men I’ve ever known, really."
Tork adds that Jones wasn’t just funny; he could really sing. By the time British-born Jones became a Monkee, he’d already worked as a jockey and had appeared as the Artful Dodger in the musical “Oliver.” That role won him a Tony nomination, but American audiences know him best for a succession of indelible pop hits.
"I think he had the best pitch and the best rhythm of the four of us," said Tork. "He was an extraordinarily talented guy. "You handed him a guitar. You said, 'Put your fingers here and strum there', and then he could play the part that night, on stage in front of 18,000 screaming teenagers."
Jones’ fellow Monkee says he’s grateful the band reunited last year for a 45th anniversary tour, allowing him to play with Davy Jones one last time.
"He was an awful lot of fun on stage," Tork said. "He brought his spirit to everything he did, so, he’s a great loss."
Davy Jones was the frontman for a fake band that became very real. He leaves behind family, friends, and legions of fans who remember him fondly as The Monkees' "Cute One."