Davy Jones died yesterday in Florida at 66 of a heart attack. I was 6 when I discovered him–towards the tail end of the TV series. Davy spoiled me forever with his English accent. To this day, a male voice with an English accent makes me look for the source. Too bad I was so young and he was so short.
The Monkees were completely silly as a TV show and as band. Sure they had some catchy songs. “Last Train to Clarksville” was one of my first 45s and the first album I bought with my own allowance and my own trip to the record department was The Monkees (yes, I still have it). But the TV show was just the sort of late 60s insanity that would appeal to a 6-year-old: 4 cute guys in really colorful and fun clothes tripping over themselves, clowning around, and playing music. My other favorite shows from the period: H.R. Pufnstuf and The Banana Splits (whose serialized cartoon version of The Three Musketeers inspired my early love of history and my later crush on Richard Chamberlain, but I digress).
If the Monkees debuted today, I would dismiss them with the same contempt I feel for American Idol, the Backstreet Boys and other marketing inventions that pass for Talent and Entertainment. But I was 6 and Davy Jones was beautiful. The rest of them? Eh–they were OK. My sister developed a big crush on Mickey Dolenz, but he didn’t appeal to me at all.
Fortunately, after the Monkees were cancelled, they went into syndication and were shown as unending repeats on Saturdays at noon. And I still watched avidly with the sort of rapt attention that only a kid can give to seeing the same show over and over and over.
When I was 8, I wrote my first and only fan letter. My sister and I sat down together and wrote fan letters to Davy and Mickey. In crayon. They were very colorful and designed to attract attention. We popped them into their separate envelopes and sent them off. I’m not sure what we were hoping for: letters back? Photos? Proposals?
My sister’s letter to Mickey disappeared into the postal system and we concluded that it became part of the avalanche of fan mail that he got every day and we rationalized (or at least my mom rationalized) that Mickey just didn’t have time to answer every letter he got.
My letter? After a couple of weeks it came back stamped “Undeliverable.” I was home sick from school (right before I had my tonsils out). I was crushed. I never wrote another fan letter.
Of course I outgrew the Monkees, both mentally and physically (it was pretty obvious that I was going to tower over Davy Jones by the time I was old enough to meet him). I went on to Bobby Sherman (another too-short brunet), David Cassidy (at least he was taller), and the Osmonds (Donny was closer to my age and taller than me). But some people never did.
In 2002, I moved to south Florida and spent months looking for a house between Boca Raton and West Palm Beach. One of the houses we looked at was owned by a short woman about 10 years older than me (maybe, she might have just been high-mileage). It was a typical stucco and tile development home, with an interior color scheme that was just too girly for me (I remember thinking I’d have to paint the whole bloody thing). It was typical, that is, until you got to the loft area at the top of the stairs overlooking the living room.
The loft was a shrine. To the Monkees. Particularly to Davy. Framed album covers. Photos. Paintings. Odd neon and multicolored lighting. Random memorabilia in tall glass and brass cabinets. The woman never got over her crush. She even talked with starry eyes about knowing them (now that I know Davy Jones lived less than an hour from there, I suppose it was possible). She had photos with them.
I was really creeped out. We listened politely to the realtor and to the homeowner explain her collection. Touring a house for sale with the homeowner present is awkward under the best circumstances. These were not one of the best circumstances. I resisted the urge to run screaming from the house.
I’ll always be glad that I had my crush on Davy Jones and I appreciate how it had an impact on me. But I’m glad I grew up and moved on. Their songs still play in my head on occasion. I was tickled when Shrek included one of my favorites, “I’m a Believer.” Here’s the original:
So, here’s to you, Davy. Thanks for the smiles and for making my childhood a little happier. You really would have like that letter–it was really cool.
Categories: Music/Popular Culture