Obituary: Davy Jones

Lizo Mzimba looks back at the career of Davy Jones

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Davy Jones was the ever-youthful and mop-topped "short one" from The Monkees, who scored chart hits and TV success during the 1960s and beyond.

Only last year, the British-born star was touring the heritage circuit once again as he teamed up with most of his bandmates from the slapstick show.

But away from a screen role which won successive generations of fans, he had a successful stage career and was a talented horseman - a skill which had also seen him briefly working as a jockey before he found fame.

He is best remembered for his vocals on Daydream Believer, a top 10 hit for the teen pop group in 1967.

It was one of many songs The Monkees recorded for their hit TV show, which spawned four US number one albums in a 13-month period from 1966 to 1967.

They were famous for their clean-cut image and were marketed as the American answer to The Beatles, having been created by two US TV producers who hoped to mimic the anarchic comedy of the Fab Four's film A Hard Day's Night.

The stigma of their origins never quite escaped the band, who later wrested control of the careers and recorded a number of critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful psychedelic rock albums.

Big break

Jones, who was born in Manchester in 1945, famously took a brief role in Coronation Street during the show's early days in the 1960s, while still a teenager.

After a stint training as a jockey in Newmarket, he landed his big acting break thanks to his boyish features and diminutive stature, playing the Artful Dodger in the West End stage musical Oliver!

He went on to land a Tony nomination when he transferred to Broadway in New York with the production.

Davy Jones Davy Jones hit the big time when in America with the cast of the musical Oliver!

Jones and the rest of the cast were guests on The Ed Sullivan Show when The Beatles made their first appearance, with Beatlemania in full swing.

His feted performance upped his profile and led to a US management deal resulting in TV roles and a short-lived solo music career.

The contract also helped to fast-track him through the auditions for The Monkees, as TV executives put together the group in 1966 partly as a response to the popularity of the Fab Four's movie A Hard Day's Night.

The group also featured Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith.

The show - and the accompanying albums - gave rise to a number of classics, including Daydream Believer, Last Train To Clarksville and Pleasant Valley Sunday, written by such luminaries as Neil Diamond, Carole King and Gerry Goffin.

Jones, who had been hired for his good looks and acting skills as much as his musical abilities, was often relegated to the role of tambourine player in the band's TV show.

But he also took lead vocals on some of their more popular songs, including Valleri and A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You.

He can be heard speaking at the beginning of Daydream Believer, asking a studio engineer: "What number is this, Chip?"

The band replies "7-A", a reference to the number of takes Jones had to record before the song was considered complete.

It was a high tally in the early days of the recording industry, and Jones later confessed he had been unhappy, because he was not convinced of the song's potential.

"You can tell from the vocal that I was pissed off," he wrote in the official Monkees' biography 20 years later.

Stage career

After their TV series ended, their partnership continued with the drifting, psychedelic film Head, partly created by Jack Nicholson.

The Monkees survived as a trio when Tork left in early 1969 and then, following the departure of Nesmith, as a duo. It was Dolenz and Jones who had often taken the lead on their songs.

After The Monkees, Jones continued to record, making solo albums in the 1970s and touring Japan with his new band, Toast, in the 80s.

He also made cameos in TV shows such as The Brady Bunch and Love American Style, and appeared in the stage musical Godspell.

The Monkees reunited several times over the years, most notably in the 1980s when their TV show was repeated on MTV - the TV channel that owed its existence, in part, to Jones's former bandmate Michael Nesmith, thanks to his interest in music videos.

Their last tour, as a three-piece, took place last year.

He also continued to have a love of riding and training horses and achieved the long-held ambition of winning his first race, in 1996 at Lingfield.

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