I grew up in small town, rural Ireland in the Sixties. Television was relatively new and I recall only black and white in our home. Then colour came into our home and a bizarre and rather psychedelic show from America called ‘The Monkees.’ Davy Jones and Mike Naismith (whose mother, I once heard, had invented Tippex but since that might have only been a rumour, maybe I had better Tippex it out?) Then there was Peter Tork and Mickey Dolenz, who, in the deepest recesses of my mind had been a child star in ‘Circus Boy’ with Noah Beery. Remember him? Noah Beery? He was the father of Jim Rockford and famously starred in one of my favourite Westerns, ‘Red River’ with the brash John Wayne, the smooth and effortless Montgomery Clift and the toothless and utterly brilliant Walter Brennan.
The death this week of Davy Jones from the Monkees has spawned all sorts of memories and phone-ins on the radio as people recall the influence of Monkee music in their growing up – I’m a Believer, Last Train to Clarksville, Daydream Believer. It is always fascinating to see some of these stars now, 40 years on and to hear of their lives and how popular they are on what is called the heritage tours. I think that means playing to people in their mid-fifties and older who are beset with nostalgia.
What was striking about Davy Jones was the range of his talent from acting on the London stage and Broadway as the Artful Dodger, to singing, musicianship and being an accomplished horse-man and jockey. And, without doubt, his charm and never fading good looks. He looked fantastic on TV on Saturday in the recent documentary about being in a ‘Boy Band’. I think the Brits were very proud to have had one of their own in such an iconic American show. Our boy from Manchester.
And yet he died at a mere 66. Just last week I visited a woman who has just turned 90. She was in great form and doing well. In the midst of the conversation she lamented just how many young people were dying. When I inquired further, expecting her to talk about teenagers or young men with drugs problems and the like, she mentioned a couple of people in their late 50s and 60s!
So, Davy Jones, Father and Grandfather, young and completely unexpected.
It put me in mind of the words of a song from Sting, ‘How fragile we are, how fragile we are.'