Monkees singer Jones dies aged 66

Thu, Mar 1, 2012, 00:00

DAVY JONES, former lead singer of the 1960s made-for-TV pop band The Monkees, died yesterday after suffering a heart attack in Florida. He was 66.

Jones, born in Manchester, was the principal teen idol of the pop quartet featured on the NBC comedy series The Monkees, which was inspired in part by the Beatles film A Hard Day’s Nightand ran for two seasons from the autumn of 1966 to August, 1968.

Although not allowed to play their own instruments on their early records, Jones and his three fellow band members – Micky Dolenz, Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork -- had several hits that sold millions of copies, including Last Train to Clarksvilleand I’m a Believer.

Jones got his start as a young actor, at the age of 11, on Coronation Streetbefore landing a role as the Artful Dodger in a West End production of Oliver!. He went on to originate that role for the Broadway production and earned a Tony nomination.

But he gained stardom after answering a casting call for a new TV series being created about the zany misadventures of four Beatles-like rock musicians called The Monkees.

Two members of the group, Nesmith and Tork, were actual musicians with performing and recording experience, while Jones and Dolenz were primarily actors who dabbled in music.

Although disparaged by critics as the “Pre-Fab Four” for the manufactured way in which the band came together, the group proved to be adept performers.

The TV series, introduced by its catchy theme, “Hey, Hey, We’re the Monkees”, debuted as an immediate ratings hit weeks after the group’s first single, Last Train to Clarksville, had topped the pop charts.

The group collaborated early on with some of the major songwriters and session musicians of the day, including Neil Diamond, Carole King, Glen Campbell and Hal Blaine. A self-titled first LP topped the album charts in October 1966. – (Reuters)