Thursday, March 1, 2012

Davy Jones - Artist or Artful Dodger?

With the death of Davy Jones some of us of a certain age are reflecting on that short time in our youth during the 60s when Monkee mania flourished.

Looking back at the Monkees, it’s possible to see them as an example of human synergy, with the group being greater than the sum of its parts with the Monkees pop group outperformed even its best individual members. 
And that’s surely how it was intended to be, with each manufactured Monkee being chosen to represent a different aspect of the human character. Davy was always the cute brown haired one, Micky the zany curly haired one, Mike the dark haired intellectual silent one, a la George Harrison, and Peter, the zany blond one with an occasional scientific bent.
It was a fail-safe formula that worked well and was used to great success  in Simon Fuller’s construction of the Spice Girls: Scary – dark and frizzy, Baby Spice, the Davy Jones of the group etc .

Monkees- Pleasant Valley Sunday

However after now reviewing a video of Pleasant Valley Sunday, it’s hard to believe that within the group, a synergy existed at all.
Marble chewing Mike Nesmith is undoubtedly doing a good job of miming with a 12 string Gretsch to a Beatle inspired guitar riff, though it doesn’t sound like a 12 string to me, while Peter Tork seems to be confidently hammering the piano with fingers hitting the keys at all the right moments.
Micky Dolenz sings and plays the drums reasonably well too and everything seems to be moving along fine until we see Davy. Unfortunately Davy has been lumbered with bass playing duties as Peter is busy on the keyboards.
To be fair, Davy does attack the bass with gusto, dancing around with confidence and eyeing the other group members, but without much success at eye contact. With regard to his playing, there is a shot of Davy changing chords in time with the music, which is good, but often he tends to stop, reconsider, then start again, strumming the bass as if it’s an acoustic. Interesting stuff, bass presumably wasn’t his forte.  
So what did Davy Jones contributed musically to the Monkees? For a long time I thought Davy was the singer, he had all the right qualifications- floppy sleek hair, boyish grin and a fistful of big maracas. But then I realised that of course the majority of Monkee hits, Last Train to Clarkesville, I’m a Believer and Pleasant Valley Sunday were all sung by Micky Dolenz.
Davy’s contribution to the Monkees was not really a musical one, he started life as an actor, playing the role of Artful Dodger in the West End and Broadway for which he was nominated a Tony award. But besides his acting skills, what he added to the Monkees was firstly a raw cuteness and lovable innocence mixed with an endearing hybrid English accent, part Lancashire, part London, part posh.
Monkees - Daydream Believer
Secondly he sang Daydream Believer, which I still hum to myself every time I shave in the mornings. Thirdly we mustn’t forget he played a fine pair, well actually two pairs of maracas, clutching them in just one hand, a mean feat and not one to be frowned at.

We all realise that it is sad that Davy has died, but for those of us who never knew him it’s sad because he is another symbol of our finishing youth and a reminder that time moves on relentlessly.
So with that thought in mind, if you are a writer and have still not returned your contract to The Guitar library, don’t be a Davy Jones, do so now, or it might just be too late!


  1. I guess now he's in Davy Jones Locker

  2. What does that mean, "don't be a Davy Jones?" Don't go out for your dreams? Don't persevere? Don't live in the moment? Don't find enthusiasm for everything you do? Don't appreciate the people who adore and love your entertaining ways? You end the article as if he accomplished nothing in his life. His name is one that will be remembered. His joy of bringing laughter and entertainment to others will always be remembered. That is more than I can say for your writing. Show some respect for a man that never thought of his role as more than that of a man playing the part of an entertainer. He at least brought some life to the role and the group.