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Goodbye To A Teen Idol

A fan-turned-insider remembers Davy Jones of the Monkees.

I was in the U.K. when The Monkees took the world by storm in the 1960s, grabbing everyone's attention and shaking up the youth scene. Like millions, I was totally enthralled.

Unlike millions, I was not a Davy Jones fan.

I was living in a small town in England. I was six. I was surrounded by short, cute British boys. You couldn't kick a soccer ball without hitting one. I simply did not understand the world's rabid fascination with this particular young Brit.

Sure, he was good looking and yes, he was a fine singer but wasn't the blissfully blond Peter Tork and his beatific smile really where it was at? Even at that tender age, I was certain it was. Peter was it. Let the rest of the girls in the world tussle over Davy or Micky or Mike. I was sure where my prepubescent heart belonged.

So sure in fact, that in later years my best friend Sherri Nielson and I went to see the Monkees in concert a dozen times over several decades.

As a young girl, Sherri had fallen for the multiple charms of Mr. Jones and he was, without question, her favorite. At a time when it was important to identify yourself and proclaim your Monkee boyfriend, Sherri was what is known in Monkee fan circles as a "Davy girl."

As Sherri and I grew from youngsters in our twenties to more mature women of (mumble mumble) age, it happened that no matter what was going on in our love lives or careers we would take time off and go on tour with the Monkees. We'd follow them around and happily attend show after show. We weren't alone. A number of people did the same.

The concerts were tight, fun, excellent. Well-produced and filled with fan favorite moments and music, no matter the calendar year, the Monkees never failed to give us all a shot of generation youth.

Time would stand still but the audience didn't. En masse we'd all dance, sing along and some people would even cry happy tears.

One balmy spring evening in Florida, I even took a public tumble from Torkdom.

It was the opening night of a new Monkees tour and Sherri and I settled in our front row seats, having driven some eight hours from Atlanta to get to the show.

Early in the concert, Davy sang "Girl," a sweetly romantic pop number that he'd had some post-Monkee success with in the 1970s. He traveled the stage, working the audience and oozing monster-truck-sized charm.

As he bounced by us, I heard a loud girlish squeal. Before I had a chance to fully absorb that it was me, the mature Peter Tork fan, who had uttered this piercing sound, I realized Davy had heard it too.

He turned toward me.

I froze in mid-squeal.

He held out his hand.

I held out my hand.

I helped him down off the stage and he put his arm around me. I briefly thought my knees had popped off because my legs suddenly stopped working.

He sang to me and compared our heights, noting proudly that he was taller than me.

Okay, maybe he was taller than me by an inch, but I'm 5-foot-2 and I was standing next to the one and only Davy Jones, teen idol extraordinaire, heart throb of millions, and he had his arm around me.

I was 10 feet tall. Also I was sweating.

It wasn't until intermission that I realized what I'd done.

I had, in front of a sold-out audience of thousands, totally sold out.

I had completely betrayed the hot Monkee love I had for Peter Tork.

I had succumbed to the legendary Jones charm.

I sheepishly went back to my front row seat, avoiding the eyes of all the people I'd told earlier that Peter was my one and only Monkee man.

So it was that Davy Jones seemed to forever have this effect on women, even the slower or unwilling-to-convert, like myself. Through the sheer force of his talent, looks, personality and cheeky, bold, upbeat nature, he pretty much owned the hearts of millions of fans.

Sure. he was good looking and yes, he was a fine singer. He was also a total and tireless pro who loved his fans and took time for the girls who squealed -- because, no matter our age, when we squealed, we were all girls again.

Later, Peter Tork and I became fast friends and even later still I became his publicist and the editor of an advice column he wrote for a few years. It was the evolution of a different Monkees experience, but no less thrilling, no less interesting or fun.

I then got the chance to see Davy through a new set of eyes -- the eyes of his friends and band mates. Even offstage, he was obviously special. I didn't squeal, but I did take note.

Once I was in New York with Peter, who was performing with his blues project, Shoe Suede Blues, and we were reading magazines out loud and having a side conversation about Davy. It started, I seem to remember, because of a comment I made about the Monkees uber-successful 1986 reunion, the one where they were the biggest grossing act on the road that year and the darlings of the young MTV network.

"Back then Davy used to say, 'I can't wait until tomorrow because I get better looking every day,' " Peter commented, as he thumbed through a periodical.

Although by that time I could well imagine Jones' teasing grin when saying this, I glanced at Peter and raised an eyebrow, pretending I wasn't a Davy fan.

"That's so modest of him," I snorted.

Peter looked up from his New Yorker.

"Well, in his case, it was true." he said.

Peter loved Davy and always spoke well of him, whether they were in or out of contact, whether they were doing business together or separately. He always displayed a solid fondness and quiet, thoughtful admiration for the man he called "Jonesy."

He told amusing stories about him and Davy on and offstage, including a night in Japan where, in the middle of the Mike Nesmith-penned tune "Sunny Girlfriend," Davy made his way over to Peter onstage. Away from his mic, in that patented British accent he yelled in Peter's ear, "I THINK WE SHOULD START A BAND!"

Peter Tork, like millions of other people, loved Davy Jones.

When I called Sherri on Wednesday, in tears because Davy had suddenly, shockingly, died, it wasn't because I lost a good friend. Davy was always nice to me, but we weren't good friends.

It wasn't because we lost a great songwriter. Davy didn't write any of rock or pop's classic songs.

It was because we lost a part of the world's collective youth.

We lost a bouncing, brave and giving talent. We lost one of the world's great, generous, funny people and we lost one of the most enduring pop idols we will ever see.

There probably won't be another teen idol quite like Davy Jones, despite the best efforts of people whose job it is to try to create them.

When I broke the news to Sherri that Davy Jones was gone, she was totally silent. Stunned, I think.

"It's over," I sobbed.

"Yes. It is," she said, almost in a whisper.

Like fans all over the globe, I simply wasn’t ready for it to be over.

Having a day or so to muse on the tragic turn of events, perhaps I was hasty and overly emotional in proclaiming, "It's over."

Perhaps Davy Jones can never truly be gone, any more than a song is gone just because it's over.

Therra C. Gwyn March 12, 2012 at 03:30 AM
What a great memory to have of David, Catherine! I know you will treasure that experience always. I enjoyed reading about it!
Therra C. Gwyn March 12, 2012 at 03:47 AM
Thank you for your kind comment Debbie...and I understand. He left us so suddenly it's hard to fully absorb just yet, isn't it? Friends, family, fans - everyone is hurting right now. He is greatly missed.
Therra C. Gwyn March 12, 2012 at 03:47 AM
Thank you so much, John.
Charles March 15, 2012 at 10:27 PM
It is hard to absorb. This is for 2 reasons. The first is that Davy has died. The second is that the Monkees--at least as a touring entity--an entity in the present/future tense--have died. Davy was part of (nearly?) every incarnation of the Monkees from the beginning--from Changes to the DJB & H bit--so--even if MIke were to tour with Peter and Micky (and this is unlikely)--it would be great--but "that " constant and defining piece--a consistent presence in keeping the Monkees alive--would be gone--. As such, he is irreplaceable; even by Mike. That is part of why the sadness is so pronounced--the Monkees are--and can be--no more. (Except as we listen and watch that which is already there.)
Therra C. Gwyn March 16, 2012 at 08:09 PM
You are completely right, Charles. It was a long and successful (and speaking for myself) very, very fun run...but with Davy's passing the Monkees are no more. I am grateful for the good times. And there were plenty. Thanks for your insight and comment.

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