Chalk it up to good timing. What hasn’t been penned in regards to the legendary crooner and charismatic enigma that is Davy Jones? Although most heralded as the dashing front man for The Monkees , the iconic pop rock quartet that shattered global sales records and notched an Emmy for the television series that bore their name, the eternally youthful and engaging Jones is a trivia buffs dream. Perhaps I might focus on the noted equestrian’s unlikely role as a cowboy from Manchester. Possibly, I sink my teeth into the entertainer’s roots as a child star on the BBC. Even better, I might divert my efforts to the celebrated and Tony nominated theatrical performances that have spanned the course of his 50 plus years in show business. Author, humorist, composer…endless possibilities. Then it dawned on me; the single greatest teen idol that ever was possesses more than a polished bio and endearing allure. He holds something no contemporary has ever managed to amass-staying power.
Davy recently opened up for an AmericanProject.TV exclusive, and we as a staff swear up and down that suddenly our own “cool factor” has gone up, hip by association. We are probably lying to ourselves, but there are truths in this life that cannot be held back; death, taxes, and Davy Jones. Of the three, one is endeared, and none show signs of stopping.
Davy you’ve been working in the entertainment business most of your life starting with a role on Coronation Street, the longest running, and most watched, British Soap Opera, then theatre with Oliver!, and of course, The Monkees. This all happened for you by the age of 21, could you have ever imagined such a journey?
Yeah you know I actually started before Coronation Street. My Auntie wrote the local television station which wanted kids for a radio play, that really opened the door, and before long I began reading the morning story on the BBC. “ And now the morning story is read by 11 year old Davy Jones from Manchester”. That sort of thing, I still have them on tape.
Were your parents onboard?
Yes. My Father wanted more for me, a different sort of life. Back then, everyone worked to help the family, including my three sisters, they always had jobs. Most kids did some kind of work and gave wages to the family to help with household expenses, keeping maybe 10 shilling to play around with for the week. Seems that everyone was in some sort of apprentice program. But he wanted me to be able to travel and really see things, something he was never able to do.
Sounds like the BBC was good to you.
Yeah, but my Dad took me to the race track in Manchester and we came up with the idea of me being a jockey. He wrote the local newspaper about my ambitions, they introduced me a trainer, and at 14 that’s what I decided to become. It was during this time, hanging around the stables, I met theatrical agents and actors that owned horses.
I’d already done several plays and broadcasts, and was told by an agent about an audition in London for the Artful Dodger. I went that weekend, auditioned, got the part, six weeks later joined the cast … and basically never came back.
So you were just … well, a kid traveling with the cast of Oliver!, as the Artful Dodger.
Yes, and about eight months later David Merrick, the famous producer came to London to see the show. It was the first time he could understand what the Artful Dodger was saying. I was from the North of England with a clearer accent.
He liked it and took the show on the road, first to Canada, then two years on Broadway. It did very well and Merrick put me in a couple of his other shows like Pickwick, then Columbia signed me to a long term, seven year contract.
That was some launch, what followed?
At 18 or 19 I moved to Franklin St, in Hollywood. Under contract I auditioned for movies like the Wackiest Ship in the Army, TV shows, like Hogan’s Hero’s, the role of Robin in Batman, I worked, stayed busy, and eventually landed The Monkees part. Unfortunately, (laughs) The Monkees ruined my acting career.
I was going to ask about that since you were an actor well before joining.
Well look, I got everything I asked for. It may have been a different path if I would have left Broadway, then jumped straight back to England, instead of doing The Monkees. People always see you in one light. But good things happened.
In 1985 I played the part of Jesus in Godspell, then in 1986 that was followed by The Monkees reunion tour which was backed up by a 24 hour MTV Monkee Marathon … once again the power of television. It was the highest grossing tour of the year. About 10 years ago I had one of my most treasured moments as an actor, going back to play the role of Fagin.
So you’ve come full circle with Oliver! , and the entertainment business has afforded you the opportunity to move about and do what you want.
Well yes, but it doesn’t have to be about dollars and cents as long as you’re satisfied. Today I perform about 30 or 40 concerts a year. People have fun, I tell a few stories, maybe a joke, mix the old and new music, classics, maybe throw in a Nat King Cole song, Daydream Believer, even a couple of songs my father sang to my mother.
But after 50 years in show business I’m allowed to have a few luxuries, a little more flexibility and freedom. I bred two beautiful foals this year and my sites are set on the 2013 Darby.
You’ve been everywhere. Let me ask … It seems that as we get older we become aware of the moments we should be remembering. But as a younger guy, were you taking a mental snapshot of your time with The Monkees, or your appearance on Ed Sullivan the night the Beatles first played?
You know something … I have a great memory and remember about everything. This includes my time as a child with my Mother when she was ill, the birth of my children and grandson. I’ve also written two books to document, and keep a little Walgreen’s notebook with me to record my thoughts, and song ideas as I go. So yeah, I’m fortunate enough to remember these important moments.
All this and you’re a regular guy?
I’m busy and enjoying myself. I have a beautiful wife, four wonderful daughters, a close extended family, and a great band. We have weekly Bar-B-Ques, I shop at the local market, fish, bike, hang out, … but I can’t believe where the years have gone (laughs) and they’re going to have to put me down with a shot.
Davy thanks for your time today.
Thank you Michael, and have a great day.
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