The Monkees’ lead singer, Davy Jones, was so popular that a singer with the same name changed his in order to avoid confusion. That man became David Bowie
“Once you’re in, you’re in. It’s like the Mafia… once a Monkee, always a Monkee.”
Davy Jones of the Monkees
In August 1966, The Beatles and The Beach Boys dominated radio airwaves with singles like Yellow Submarine, Paperback Writer and Good Vibrations. Their sound of pop alternative garnered adoring fans who praised the catchy riffs and sing-along lyrics, but 1966 was also the year a new television phenomenon erupted on the screens to introduce millions to America’s answer to The Beatles. Inspired by The Beatles’ film A Hard Day’s Night, The Monkees made their small-screen debut on September 12, 1966, propelling an up-and-coming actor/musician David Thomas Jones into instant stardom.
Capturing the hearts of millions of teenaged girls with his long hair, boyish good looks, charming English accent and warm sense of humor, Jones saw continued success over the years, including a modest solo musical career, the authoring of several autobiographies and being ranked No. 2 as the 10 Best Teen Idols in 2009. However, Jones’ career as a celebrity almost never came to fruition.
Born in Manchester, England on December 30, 1945, Jones had his first taste of acting at the age of 11 after landing a role on the popular long-running British soap opera Coronation Street. Three years later, Jones’ mother died of emphysema, leaving Jones to pursue a career as a jockey, training alongside Basil Foster.
It was during this time that a friend who worked for the West End of London theatre approached Foster looking to cast someone for the stage adaption of Oliver!. As if the stars had aligned themselves to conspire to bring Jones back to the stage, Foster replied to his friend that he knew of someone.
Cast as the Artful Dodger, Jones was recognized with great acclaim for his performance, and soon was nominated for a Tony Award when he accompanied the show on Broadway.
In promotion of the show, the cast of Oliver! made a guest appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. That same night, The Beatles made their first appearance in which Jones recalled, “I watched the Beatles from the side of the stage. I saw the girls going crazy and I said to myself, ‘This is it, I want a piece of that.’”
At first, Jones landed a few television guest appearances, but his big break came when he was the first actor/musician to be selected as a member of the soon-to-be musical television phenomenon The Monkees.
As frontman, singer and percussionist, Jones attracted the attention of fans for his charm and boyish good looks, while the TV show continued to captivate audiences who adored the humorous antics of a made-for-television band. Soon the Monkees would score chart-topping singles that rivalled the Beatles with their version of Neil Diamond’s I’m a Believer and Last Train to Clarksville.”