Neither is this one - Davy Jones' Monkees audition
Oh, sure, the Monkees were manufactured pop-culture tripe; a shameless attempt to capture the madcap antics of the Beatles in A Hard Day's Night and Help!. And young David Jones, who already had years of acting and musical experience under his belt, was clearly designed to play the Paul McCartney Cute Boy role.
Davy Jones was the Justin Bieber of his time. The Beatles had already blazed the mop-top trail and had already delivered the actual goods of musicianship. McCartney may have been the angelic face of a band that put parents in the early 1960's into a panic, making his mark at a time when Davy Jones was still in his teens, playing the Artful Dodger in the musical Oliver! (video above) on the very same Ed Sullivan Show on which the Beatles made their US debut. But by the time The Monkees debuted, the Beatles had already released Revolver and were showing signs of the progression that would blow minds all over the world the next year with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
But a strange thing happened with this Faux Four. Somewhere along the way, and it didn't take long, they decided they wanted to be actual musicians -- and succeeded, even to the point of being invited to a party given by the Beatles during the recording of Sgt. Pepper. John Lennon likened The Monkees to the kind of madcap comedy attributed to the Marx Bros, and George Harrison thought enough of what they were doing to say they had real talent -- and invited Peter Tork to play 5-string banjo on his first solo album.
Davy Jones was probably the least musical member of the band, and clung to its legacy longer than any of the other band members. But to a short girl of eleven in 1966, the diminutive Davy Jones was as much someone to identify with as much he was a cute boy. And from the accounts of those who knew him, he was also a very, very nice and generous soul.
Here are Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, and Davy Jones at New York's Beacon Theatre last year:
And lo those many years ago:
It's weird watching the pop culture icons of your youth start to depart, and I think my generation is more ill-equipped than most to wrap what's left of our minds around it, for it reminds us that we are next in line. Paul McCartney is still rocking at sixty-nine, and the ridiculousness that is Mick Jagger is still strutting at the same age. The Beach Boys have patched things up with their mercurial genius Brian Wilson and will be doing a 50th anniversary tour this summer, hopefully not singing "Be True To Your School" at Mike Love's advanced age of 71. But there has to be something between the ridiculousness of rock stars who are now senior citizens by anyone's definition still parading around on stage the way they did forty years ago, and the vast parade of those who survived into their 50's and 60's but still left too soon of sudden heart attacks -- Jerry Garcia...John Entwhistle...Paul Butterfield...Roy Orbison...Alex Chilton...and now Davy Jones, all of whose deaths show that there really is such a thing as too old to rock 'n' roll and too young to die.
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