Davy Jones passed away this week.  This excerpt is from Uncle John’s 4-Ply Bathroom Reader by The Bathroom Reader’s Institute.


On September 8, 1965, director Bob Rafaelson and producer Bert Schneider (as Raybert Productions) placed an ad in Variety magazine that read:

“Madness!  Auditions

Folk & Rock Musicians-Singers

For Acting Roles in New TV Series

Running Parts for 4 Insane Boys, Age 17-21

Want Spirited Ben Frank’s Types

Have Courage To Work

Must Come Down For Interview”

The idea was to create an American version of the Beatles – a pre-fab four.

In all, 437 applicants showed up at Raybert’s offices trying to become the four finalists for a “musical situation comedy” called “The Monkees.”  Among those rejected were Harry Nilsson, Paul Williams, Danny Hutton (Three Dog Night), Rodney Bingenheimer, Steven Stills and, according to legend, Charlie Manson.  Eventually Rafaelson and Schneider narrowed it down to four: Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork.  NBC bought the pilot, RCA agreed to distribute the records and almost overnight, the Monkees were a big phenomenon.

With corporate power and a crack creative team behind them (director Paul Mazursky co-wrote the pilot), the Monkees first single, “Last Train To Clarksville,” sold 250,000 copies before the series even debuted – despite the fact that the group did little more than sing on cue.  Later it hit number one – as did the group’s first album…and the group’s second single…and the group’s second album…etc.

The show debuted in the 1966-67 season, and never rated highly.  One problem: Many NBC affiliates refused to carry a show that had long-haired “hippie” types as the heroes.  But it was a respected program.  Most people weren’t aware that in addition to having hit records (including the #1 song of 1967, “I’m a Believer”), the Monkees won two Emmy awards for best sitcom.

At the end of the second season NBC cancelled the series, so the group concentrated its efforts on a movie called Head (now a cult classic) instead.  It was released with little fanfare in 1968.

The group’s last project with all four members was a bizarre TV special entitled “33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee,” which featured Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino and Little Richard as guests.  NBC ran the show against the Oscars, dooming it to obscurity.  The Monkees themselves soon disappeared, splitting in 1970.


* In 1965, Peter Tork was playing with Stephen Stills in the Buffalo Fish – an early incarnation of the Buffalo Springfield.  It was Stills, in fact, who tipped off Tork – then washing dishes for $50 a week – that TV producers were still casting for the Monkees (Stills auditioned, but lost out due to bad teeth and a receding hairline).  Tork was the last hired and the first to quit the group in 1968.

* Mickey Dolenz wasn’t a drummer.  He agreed to play drums only after the other Monkees refused.

* Davy Jones’ big break came with the stage musical “Oliver!” where he played the role of the Artful Dodger.  When the musical moved from London to New York, Jones became an instant teen star, winning a Tony nomination for his role.  Ironically, Jones – along with the rest of the cast of “Oliver!” – appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show which included the Beatles’ first American TV appearance.

* In terms of mail, Jones was always the most popular Monkee.

* Michael Nesmith’s mother, Bette Nesmith, was a commercial artist who invented Liquid Paper (i.e., typewriter correction fluid).  Michael inherited millions from her.

* Jack Nicholson co-wrote Head.  Nicholson also made a cameo appearance in the movie.

* Frank Zappa made a rare guest appearance on “The Monkees” TV series and in Head.

* Due to Davy Jones’ popularity, another English singer was force to change his real name to…David Bowie.

* Monkeeing around: Davy Jones was due to be drafted for duty in Vietnam when suddenly (by coincidence?) someone broke into the local Army recruitment branch and stole the file cabinet with Jones’ file.

* Jimi Hendrix was the Monkees’ opening act on their 1967 summer tour of the States.  Mickey Dolenz had seen Hendrix perform in a New York club and later signed Hendrix following his historic show at Monterey Pop (where both Dolenz and Tork were stage announcers).  Monkees fans, however, were unprepared for the overt sexuality and strange guitar work of the Jimi Hendrix Experience – they kept cheering, “We Want the Monkees.”  Finally, after the group’s show at Forest Hills, New York, Hendrix and the Monkees amicably split company.  The official excuse for Hendrix leaving the tour was the Daughters of The American Revolution had banned him for being to sexually suggestive.

* Bob Rafaelson and Bert Schneider later went on to form BBS Productions, which produced films such as Easy Rider, The Last Picture Show and Hearts and Minds.

* In 1980, Michael Nesmith received the first video Grammy award for his one-hour video special, “Elephant Parts.”  Nesmith has produced such movies and Tapeheads and Repo Man.

* In 1986, Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork and Davy Jones reunited for a massively-successful 20th Anniversary Monkees Tour.  Although Nesmith declined to tour, he did show up for the encore at the group’s 9/6/86 appearance at Hollywood’s Greek Theatre.  Thanks to MTV exposure of the original series, the Monkees experienced a surge in popularity, culminating in the hit single, “That Was Then, This Is Now.”  In an unprecedented showing on the Billboard charts, the Monkees had seven albums in the Hot 200, six of which were reissues of original albums.