Davy Jones: Loneliness is a friend of mine these days


INDIANTOWN, FL (2006) – Davy Jones embraces the past and cherishes the present, but his future doesn’t include any more Monkees reunions.

This year will mark the 40th anniversary of the pre-fab four, and Jones, at 60, says he’s had enough.

“I would not work with those guys again if my life depended on it,” says the diminutive Englishman, who’s owned a home here for 20 years. “I can’t be responsible for their attitudes, and the way they treat people.”

The British-born Jones is the subject of tonight’s episode of Living in TV Land. Most of the 30-minute show was filmed in and around Indiantown.

The last reunion of all four Monkees, a 1997 British tour, ended with bitterness and angry words. According to Jones, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork — and, to a lesser extent, Micky Dolenz — think of themselves as rock stars, and not veterans of a 1960s sitcom about rock stars. The four rarely agree on anything.

“Get over it, OK?” Jones laughs. “The Monkees is gonna be the Monkees forever and ever. It’s going to be like the Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges and the Bowery Boys.”

billdeyoungcom MonkeesJones does about 100 solo shows every year (he’ll play Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival May 12-15), and his set is chock-full of Monkees hits and Monkee-esque stage patter. “I’ve got friends that I’ve known for 40 years, and a lot of people that I don’t know that talk to me as if they do know me,” he explains. “Which makes me feel good. I’ve touched a lot of people’s lives.

“The Monkees touched a lot of people’s lives, and I can’t destroy that by going out with those guys and having bad attitudes around me.”

He wouldn’t do it, he says, “for $10 million a night.”

Jones’ extended family includes millions of fans all over the world, but his inner circle is small. Twice divorced, he has four grown daughters and two grandsons — and a stable full of the best pals a longtime horseman could ask for.

Every morning at 6, Jones drives the 30 minutes from his home to a rural Martin County stable to exercise his 12 horses, groom them and clean out their stalls. As a young lad in Manchester, he aspired to be a jockey — these days, several of his horses race at Florida tracks, with someone younger in the saddle.

The animals, Jones says, are his best friends; they don’t need to hear him sing “Daydream Believer.” They just want his attention and affection.

He spends the summers at a ranch house in Pennsylvania (he also owns an estate in England and an apartment in Los Angeles).

“Money doesn’t change a man,” he muses. “I’d rather people wonder why I live in Indiantown, amongst the migrant workers and retirees, rather than alone in a gated community feeling lonely.”

Although his daughters visit often, Jones lives alone. “I get lonely all the time, but I like it,” he says. “Loneliness is like a friend of mine these days.”

The area’s rapid growth, however, is a bone of contention.

“I thought of America as being cowboys and Indians and cattle rustling, and now they’re rustling our land,” Jones says. “All these people are coming from West Palm and all around; they’re building 600 new homes in Indiantown. And 600 homes means 2,000 more people.”

What he craves is stability. Something normal. “I don’t want to be Peter Pan all my life,” he muses. “I’d love to have a restaurant with a stage in downtown Stuart. I wish I’d have bought the Lyric Theatre five years ago. I just want to be part of a community.”

He loves the fact the locals have gotten used to him turning up in restaurants and grocery stores.

So he’s applying for American citizenship — something he says he should’ve done years ago.

“I want to be part of the team. I want to be American. I’ve been here since 1962, and everything was given to me. So I want to die an American, 30 years from now. I want to be an American, because I think this is the new world.”

@2006 Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers

Peter Tork: Don’t step on my Shoe Suede Blues

Don’t hold your breath waiting for another Monkees reunion. Although the prefab four toured to great success in the ’80s and ’90s, Peter Tork says things are a bit dicier these days.

“I don’t think about doing it again much,” Tork offers by phone from his home in California. “If the occasion arose, I would have to look at the offer.”

Tork and his band Shoe Suede Blues will perform Sunday at the Stuart ArtsFest.

All four original Monkees — Tork, Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones and even longtime holdout Michael Nesmith — played together on a 1997 tour of England.

“When Michael did do the shows with us, it was exciting,” says the 62-year-old Tork. “It was great to work on the road with those guys – particularly as time wore on, they got to be funnier and funnier, and easier to work with.”

Nesmith had previously refused to indulge in Monkees nostalgia – he’d always been the Monkee most offended by their “manufactured” past and the attendant rock-media scorn – and the other three had worked without him for years.

The British tour was a commercial and critical smash. However, when promoters started clamoring for a U.S. jaunt, Nesmith balked.

“I don’t know how he came to be this way,” Tork says, “but the poor boy basically can’t work with anybody else. He has learned over the years to allow other people into his orbit, which only means that he is now in control of a larger crew than he ever had before.

“He didn’t want to work with the Monkees anymore. The reason he didn’t come back to America with us was that when he joined the operation, he made sure it was his way or the highway. But even that wasn’t enough for him. I don’t think he had enough control.”

The Monkees’ legacy is a spotty one. Hired in 1966 to portray four “American Beatles” in an NBC sitcom, the four had never met before; their music was an afterthought and performed by studio musicians. For their early hits — the chart-topping “Last Train to Clarksville” and “I’m a Believer” among them — they didn’t play any music, just mimed to their pre-recorded vocals on the TV show.

Musicians both, Nesmith and Tork bristled at the heavy-handed “music supervision” of Don Kirshner, who chose the songs they’d record, and when it came out in the press that the Monkees weren’t a “real” band, they got mad.

When the records started to sell in the millions, and the power was theirs, they had Kirshner fired.

Hindsight reveals that many Monkees recordings rank with some of the greatest ’60s pop music. The Beach Boys, after all, used studio pros on “Pet Sounds,” and nobody came after Brian Wilson with an ax to grind.

From “Pleasant Valley Sunday” and “A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You” to the landmark albums Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones Ltd. (both recorded by the Monkees themselves, augmented by studio players) there are some great records in the canon.

“I would have liked to see (the music) produced a bit more heavily,” Tork says, “but part of the TV producers’ brief was ‘Don’t scare the parents.’ They tried to walk a very fine line, and I think they did a pretty good job of it. I’d like to have seen the whole thing go on a little longer, but them’s the breaks.”

Indeed, Tork was the first to break camp, in 1968, after the cancellation of the TV show and the Monkees’ disastrously received movie Head.

“You know the expression ‘received wisdom’?” he says. “The received wisdom on it (the band) was that it was a lower-value effort because it was structured and cast as characters in a TV show.

“It was highly structured as a project — and the received wisdom was that that was a lower value than what seemed to be spontaneous projects, which meant the Beatles. They were spontaneous; we were structured.

“I didn’t know then what I know now — that all great careers have a really nasty lull in the middle. I wish I had, then I might have stuck with it longer, and it might have come back.”

Tork, whose new band plays a lot of heavy blues, along with rock ‘n’ roll classics and a smattering of Monkees hits, has very definite thoughts on the Monkees’ catalogue.

“The best Monkees music ever generated was ‘Riu Chiu,’ an a capella song in medieval Spanish that we did on the Christmas episode,” he says. “It shows up on a couple of the Missing Links CDs.

“It’s an astounding piece of music. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just amazing. We sang it live to camera.

“I love ‘Goin’ Down,’ which we did spontaneously in the studio. I think ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’ is the best single we put out. And I thought ‘Words’ was a very, very good piece of pop music. And we did it justice.”

(For the record, Tork – who didn’t do a lot of lead singing in the group – plays piano on “Daydream Believer” and banjo on “You Told Me,” among many other great songs, and took the co-lead vocal on “Shades of Grey” and “Words.”)

A recurring role in the ’90s sitcom Boy Meets World (as Topanga’s hippie dad) almost led to a rekindling of his acting career, but Tork says he thought better of it.

“The truth is that I got off as an actor maybe once or twice in acting class,” he says. “I get off as a musician every time I’m up there.

“When the rewards are greater and the price is way lower . . . let’s see, a lot of trouble and a few rewards, or not as much trouble and a lot of rewards . . . let me think here . . . gosh. I can’t figure it out.”


Davy Jones, 58, owns a home in Indiantown where he trains thoroughbred horses. Jones won’t be able to join Peter Tork onstage this weekend: He’s in England, on tour. April 16-19, he’ll perform at the International Flower and Garden Fest at Epcot Center. See Davy Jones.net.

Micky Dolenz, 59, is appearing on Broadway as Zoser in the Elton John/Tim Rice musical “Aida.” See Micky Dolenz.com.

Michael Nesmith, 63, maintains a cult following for his quirky recordings and concert performances. A pioneer in music videos, he is credited with inventing the concept that led to MTV. See Video Ranch.com.


@2004 Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers