October 15, 2011

Davy Jones: The Way You Hoped He’d Be

by Jim Newsom

“My father always said, ‘Find out what you do best and do it.’”

Davy Jones has been following his dad’s advice since he was a pre-teen actor on British television, coming to the U.S. for the Broadway production of Oliver! in his late teens and appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show with that cast on February 9, 1964, the evening that The Beatles gave their first American performance. But he is best known as the cutest of The Monkees, whose two season television run from 1966 to 1968 made him an international star and teen idol.

“I was twenty years old,” he said when we spoke last month. “Now I’m sixty five. All of those teenagers have grown up, and it seems that their children and grandchildren and grandmothers are interested in remembering and being entertained by this old idea.”

Jones, who comes to the Ferguson Center Saturday, October 29th, spent the summer on tour with fellow Monkees Peter Tork and Mickey Dolenz. The reviews were excellent.

“We went to England and did twelve concerts over there,” he said, “ending up at the Royal Albert Hall. We sold that one out. Then we came back and ended the first run at the Greek Theatre—that was sold out too. We had great response to the show. It was probably the best one the three of us have done. It had forty songs in it, songs we pulled off different albums. That was three and a half months of each of our lives. We collectively decided that we should take a break, clear the books and regroup. Now we are talking about how to go about the next phase of it.

“It’ so much fun: we go out, we laugh, we make fun of each other. I’m out there on the stage with Mickey and there are these two beautiful 35-year old women dancing in front of the stage, they start bopping around. And while we’ve got a little instrumental break, I walk over to Mickey and say, ‘Mine looks good!’ He falls down crying. It’s something we would’ve said forty years ago, but now our wives are standing on the side of the stage!”

At the Ferguson, he’ll be on a double bill with Peter Noone, “Herman” of Herman’s Hermits.

“I’ve known Peter for fifty years,” he said. “We were on the same TV series in England back in the early ‘60s. He is an amazing showman. You’ll love what he does.”

Davy Jones loves what he does, and though he is still instantly recognizable, he manages to keep it all in perspective:

“People look at you in a certain way. I’ll go into a supermarket and someone will say to me, ‘Do you know who you are?’ And I say, ‘I think so.’ And they say, ‘What are you doing in here?’ ‘I’m getting food!’

“As soon as the curtain comes down, and you walk away from that theatre, I become a sixty-five year old man. I’m not walking with sticks or nothing, but the body aches a little bit and I’m glad to lay on the pillow at night after dancing for two hours and doing what I do.

“I’ve got a wife, I’ve got kids, I’ve got grandkids. And I also have horses. I have a place in Pennsylvania just outside of Harrisburg. I’ve got four horses there and eight horses down in Florida. My house in Pennsylvania is a big old twenty-room house that I bought twenty seven years ago. I get on the roof, I fix stuff. I’m the one who cleans the gutters. I also have an old church in town that I’ve had for about twelve years. It was falling down. I bought it for nothing just to have a project. I work with my hands.

“I’ve always been a jockey; I’ve always ridden. But if I could pick up the house and move it, I would put it in Virginia. It reminds me so much of Hampshire, England—the scenery, the rolling hills.

“I was at Colonial Downs just outside of Richmond for a couple of seasons. I’m at the barn there, on my own, looking after some horses. And this one owner came to say thank you to his horse who had just won. He had a kid with him, and the kid was speaking Spanish, and I knew that he was talking about giving the horse some carrots. I had bags of them, waiting to feed mine later, so I went over and gave him half a dozen carrots. And the owner came down, shook my hand, and put a twenty dollar bill in it. And he says ‘thank you very much.’ And I said, ‘hey you’re quite welcome.’

“That was the greatest moment of the whole time at Colonial Downs. Some guy gave me a twenty for giving his horse some carrots. He didn’t know about Davy Jones from The Monkees. My hat was on, my hair was back, I was dirty from the day. Unknown and anonymous—that’s the secret to success.”

The other secret to continued success is giving an audience what they came to see and hear.

“Remember me the way you hoped I’d be,” he explained. “That’s what I say to myself. I’m not gonna come out and sing Led Zeppelin songs or Cream songs, I’m coming out there and I’m singing ‘I’m a Believer’ and ‘Daydream Believer’ and ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’ and ‘Valerie’ and ‘A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You’ and any number of songs that you already know.

“You’ve just got to find your niche in life. You take yourself seriously when it comes to being on time and performing for a certain amount of time. But the rest of it is acting; it’s performing.”

Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone
and Davy Jones of The Monkees
Ferguson Center for the Arts
Saturday, October 29 – 8:00 pm
Tickets: $34.00-49.00
(757) 594-7448; fergusoncenter.cnu.edu

copyright © 2011 Jim Newsom. All Rights Reserved.