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Davy Jones wasn’t a teen idol for me. He was much, much more. He was whatever that very first crush is that you have long before you’re a teen or even a tween. I was little-- maybe four--when the Monkees were all the rage, but I remember that I’d feel all silly and gooey inside when I would watch “The Monkees” on Saturday with my older sister, Jeannie, and Davy would come on screen.
Plus, Davy developed crushes with whiplash speed and every time he’d see a new girl he liked--oh, every episode or so-- they added little white stars to his eyes in post-production and they would twinkle even more. Awwwwwwww. I knew that Davy was looking at some Malibu Barbie, but thinking of me. His hair was shiny as a pony’s and he was as frisky as a young colt...and as non-threatening, which is the key to any young crush.
The musical heroes of our youth are sacrosanct and stay forever pure in our hearts. I remember my editor at Billboard telling me that. It instantly came back to my mind today when I heard of Jones’ passing. Whether your first crush was Jones, Shaun Cassidy, a member of New Kids on the Block or the Backstreet Boys or Justin Bieber, that boyish sprite will forever remain in your heart in some way.
As an adult, I interviewed Jones a few times because of the reunion tours and other assorted ventures, and what I remember so clearly is the first time I met him, I was shaking as if I were little again. I felt like I should ask him to sign my pillow case or something so I could practice kissing on it (don’t worry, I didn’t).
I was too young to remember the Beatles during their initial run, but the Monkees came just enough later that I was ready and primed when they hit. The opening drum hit of “The Theme from the Monkees” meant they were here!!! And they were going to do that crazy one-leg-crossed-over-the-other walk and for the next 30 minutes there was nothing, absolutely nothing, that would drag me and Jeannie away from the television.
Unless....unless it was that the Monkees were, as they sang in the theme song, coming to our town. I don’t remember what year it was, but the Monkees (sometime after Michael Nesmith had left) came to Dorton Arena in Raleigh. Our mom took us with our friends, Karen and Marsha, and their mom. Karen and Marsha’s mom let them scream as loudly as they wanted in that high-pitched range that only Mariah Carey and very young girls screaming at their teen idol can hit. Our mom, perhaps already feeling she had done her motherly duty just by getting us to the show, kept telling me and Jeannie not to scream so loudly because it was hurting her ears. Didn’t she understand that we knew if we screamed loudly enough that Davy would hear us way up in the balcony above every other girl there? (As Facebook has a great way of doing, as I was writing this, Karen chimed in on FB that she remembered her mom complaining of permanent hearing loss after that show).
And then, of course, there was “The Brady Bunch” episode when Marcia Brady asked Davy to the school dance by going down to the recording studio and busting right in. I know it sounds crazy, but that plot didn’t seem that far-fetched (and is reliving itself now via the internet with fans asking Taylor Swift to the prom, Justin Timberlake to Marine Balls, etc). His singing “Girl” to Marcia caused my heart to flutter like it had been taken over by butterflies. Not only was he cute, but he was funny when he made the little record joke on the couch in the infamous Brady split level and asked her to kiss him on the other cheek, on “the flip side.”
When I got older, long after the Monkees had initially broken up, I pulled out my Monkees records and revisited them and was pleasantly surprised to realize I loved them for the right reasons. Yes, Davy was cuter than anything I’d ever laid eyes on and, yes, the foursome was put together by star makers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider-- leaving them forever to be dubbed the Pre-Fab Four--but their voices were outstanding, especially Jones. That wasn’t surprising given his theatrical training--he was the Artful Dodger in “Oliver” after all, but it was more than that. The songs, written by Boyce/Hart and Neil Diamond and others, were tight, pop gems.
The members of the Monkees, which also included Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork, wanted to be seen as a real group and bit back hard against their image with “Head,” the psychedelic movie co-written and directed by Jack Nicholson. I’ve never seen the movie to this day because I’m just fine keeping my Monkees in their little boy band box. I can’t blame them for railing against their zoo keepers, but hope over the years, as they continued to tour, they realized the joy that they brought people and that brought them some happiness too.
Davy, thank you from the bottom of my four-year old heart.
Follow Melinda Newman on Twitter @HitfixMelinda