8 things you might not know about Davy Jones of the Monkees
Everyone has their favorite Monkee. We here at the Decades office are split between Micky, Michael, Peter and Davy. But as far as the general public goes, Davy Jones was undeniably the most popular. After all, the svengalis behind the band (not to be confused with Svengoolie) made him the frontman — despite the fact that Peter Tork admitted Jones was the most talented drummer in the group.
Jones had a successful solo career before and after the Monkees, and made memorable television appearances as a solo artist.
But did you know he was also a successful horse racer and marketplace owner? Let's take a closer look at this former teen idol.
He made his television debut on a British soap opera.
David Thomas Jones was born in Manchester on New Year's Eve Eve in 1945. In 1961, when he was 15-years-old, the Northern English kid made his television debut on Coronation Street, a soap opera centered around a section of Manchester near to his childhood home. The series was new at the time — and is still on the air today. Jones played Colin Lomax in one episode.
He trained to be a jockey — and won a horse race at 50 years old.
Despite a television credit to his name, Jones dropped out of school to pursue a career in horse racing. He trained to be a jockey. Music and acting eventually swayed him back to showbiz, but he did get to show off his equestrian skills in an episode of The Monkees, "Don't Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth," seen here. Jones remained a horse-lover his entire life. In fact, in 1996 at the age of 50, Jones won his first horse race, the Ontario Amateur Riders' Handicap.
He was on The Ed Sullivan Show in the same episode the Beatles made their debut.
February 9, 1964, is a day forever immortalized in music and television history. The Beatles made their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show, sparking the British Invasion, Beatlemania, and the modern era of pop music in general. Another future icon quietly appeared in that episode — Davy Jones. He performed a musical number from Oliver! Jones had been delighting theater crowds in the West End of London with his portrayal of Artful Dodger in the Dickens adaptation. Of course, he would end up in a band styled after the Beatles! Small world.
He had a chart hit before the Monkees.
When the Monkees were assembled, Jones was the member with name recognition. He had already been releasing music under his own name, David Jones. The teenager released "What Are We Going To Do?" in 1965, which managed to crack the Billboard Hot 100, charting at No. 93 in August 1965.
Image: Colpix Records
He forced David Bowie to be named David Bowie.
As the Monkees were becoming a pop phenomenon (they were one of the biggest-selling bands of the 1960s) another rock legend was getting his start in England. Davie Jones fronted a beat combo called the King Bees. As he pursued a solo career, industry folks advised he change his name, so as to avoid confusion with the far more popular British singer Davy Jones. Inspired by American pioneer Jim Bowie and his eponymous knife, Davie Jones changed his name to David Bowie.
His most famous solo song was a flop at first.
Outside of The Monkees, Jones' most memorable TV moment is undoubtedly his appearance on The Brady Bunch. Marcia Brady convinces the teen idol to appear at her junior prom in "Getting Davy Jones." In the episode, Jones performs "Girl." Over the years, through reruns, it became his signature song. Nobody thought much of it when it was released early in 1971. The single flopped saleswise, and the track was even left off his solo album Davy Jones. Decades later, it would have an unlikely revival when Jones offered up a grunge version of it for The Brady Bunch Movie (1995).
Image: Bell Records
He opened an indoor market in Los Angeles.
At the young age of 24, Jones became an entrepreneur. Inspired by the indoor markets of New York City, he opened a Hollywood marketplace dubbed "The Street" in Los Angeles, on August 5, 1970. He envisioned The Street as a place to help young craftsmen display and sell their products. It was like Etsy meets Warhol's factory. In fact, it was located on the ground floor of "The Factory," birthplace during World War II of the Norden bombsight and later the site of a well-known nightclub for the younger set on the second floor.
Image: AP Photo / George Birch
He died on Leap Day.
Jones passed away on February 29, 2012. He was 66 at the time.
Image: AP Photo / RH