While digging for records in the bottom floor of Toronto’s BMV Books (the Bloor St. location) last weekend, I came across a Davy Jones album I had never seen before. I thought I was knowledgeable on all things Monkees, including their solo lps. The Monkees were major players in my development as a music fan, and are favorites of mine. But, after a quick inspection, I realized this album was just Davy Jones’ pre-Monkees album titled “David Jones,” released in 1965 by Colpix records. This was a repackaged version released in Canada and various international markets by a UK company called Pye Records put out in 1967, obviously to capitalize on the popularity of the television show, as well as Monkeemania which was in full swing by then. Don’t dismiss it – in 1967 The Monkees may not have been as respected by music fans as The Beatles were, but they were much more popular amongst teenage fans. The cover has an unfortunate gooney photo of Davy Jones smiling back, but he looks far more recognizable as the Davy Jones we all know and love than the photo of him on the earlier release.
Despite already owning this album, I couldn’t resist to buy this version. The price was low, and Davy Jones is a very special man in my personal journey as a writer. Besides, it gives me an opportunity to write another Vinyl Story about him.
In 2006, when I was starting out as a writer, Davy Jones was one of the first celebrities which I had spent any actual amount of time with. I was pretty green at that point in my career, and I might have done only two or three interviews over the telephone prior to meeting him. But, when Davy Jones came to town to do an outdoor concert, my pal Verne Pickford had the brilliant idea to just call the hotel he was staying at and ask for his room. I didn’t think it’d work, and to this day I hate doing cold calls, feeling they are intrusive. But, Venre was on to something because the front desk put the call through and Davy picked up on the other end. Verne told him we were independent journalists (I guess we were, but we were seriously uncredited at that time) and wanted to do a story on him. Davy invited us to meet him prior to the concert, and we’d arrange things then. Wow. Pretty simple.
Verne and I headed to the park and we really had no idea what we were doing. Both of us had been around celebrities because we haunted autograph shows, so we knew how to conduct ourselves, but looking back we were totally lost. After several minutes of awkwardly standing around, Davy’s road manager heard us explaining to a hired security guard, who clearly didn’t believe us, that we were supposed to be meeting Davy Jomes. He told the guard that Davy was waiting for us, and we were led to his trailer.
Davy’s trailer was full of people – mainly his band and other members of his crew. Sitting on the bench facing the door was the most loveable Monkee of them all, wearing a silver shirt and absolutely no pants. Instead he was wearing a tight pair of red silk underwear, with a folder with a Steve Ditko picture of Spider-Man balanced on his knee. I couldn’t help noticing how small and skinny his legs were. Davy beamed and said “Hello men! Sit down! Sit down” and patted the seat next to him. Verne and I looked at each other, looked back at pantless Davy Jones, and looked at each other again.
Davy’s road manager said to him “Davy! Don’t’ you think you should put on pants?”
Davy replied, “No, its fine. These guys are cool. Sit down!”
I carefully sat next to pantless Davy Jones. Verne sat feet away on the other side of the trailer. Davy was friendly and animated, and the familiarity between him and his band was obvious. There was a lot of good energy and laughter. Davy asked us if we saw the soccer game earlier that day (the World Cup was on ) and, miraculously, I had (I caught it at a local bar that afternoon, possibly the only time I had ever watched a soccer game on my life). I quickly forgot that Davy was wearing no pants, and we chit chatted about Toronto, and soccer, and horses and the show he was about to do. After about fifteen minutes Davy’s road manager said they had to get things going, and we had to leave. Davy asked us if we would like to have breakfast with him the next day at the hotel restaurant and we could talk some more. We agreed, and said we’d see him at the agreed time.
Already backstage, Verne and I ended up sneaking into the VIP section and watched Davy’s show from the front row. Thankfully he put pants on for the show. What was that about? Was it a test? If we had reacted badly would we had been invited for breakfast?
Davy did a great show. He was fun and animated and sang all the hits, plus some. He sang both his songs and the ones sung by Mickey Dolenz. He’d later explain to us that he did that because “Mickey got all the good ones.” Apparently, the fun didn’t end after the concert was over. Later that night Davy was reported to have crashed the local police chief’s daughter’s wedding reception which was being held at his hotel.
Next morning when Verne and I got to the hotel restaurant we found a Davy who was a lot mellower. Wearing a dark sweater, eyes hidden behind dark glasses and, thank god, wearing pants, Davy and his assistant, a lovely woman named Aviva Maloney who took really good care of him, were drinking coffee. Davy looked up and saw us and beckoned us over. Since there was no actual food at the table, although Davy told us to order anything on the menu and charge it to his tab, we just had coffee as well.
Quietly, not far from us, a guy hired by the restaurant to softly play classical guitar for ambiance was playing The Beatles ‘Here Comes the Sun.” Davy was quietly singing along. “I think that’s one of the nicest songs George ever wrote,” he reflected. I thought that was pretty cool, considering Davy not only spent time with George Harrison, but also saw him from backstage the night they played Sullivan in 1964.
The conversation changed to, of all things, British war movies, which Davy was a fan of. We hadn’t started our interview yet, but as we were talking a woman, sheepishly, approached our table. Davy took his glasses off and smiled at her and invited her over.
“I just saw you over here, and I wanted to just come over and thank you for all of the music that you sang and tell you how much I’ve enjoyed you all my life,” she said. Davy took her hand and warmly thanked her. He asked her name and where she was from, and then he saw her husband sitting at a nearby table and waved to him. He was genuine and actively listened to what she said. The lady kept it brief, Davy signed an autograph, and she went back to her table.
We drank a few more cups of coffee, and then Aviva left us, and we decided to lave the restaurant and find someplace to conduct a formal interview. But, before leaving the restaurant, Davy went over to the table of the lady who approached us. I couldn’t hear what he said, but he gave handshakes and hugs, laughed with her and her husband, took a photo with them and then said goodbye and came back to us.
“Y’know, that lady took herself out of her comfort zone to come and talk to us,” Davy said. “But, y’know, it means a lot. Truth is, without people like her, I wouldn’t be here right now. There would have been no Monkees. Nobody would care. So, when she comes over to tell me what we meant to her, I feel I should do the same by repaying the respect and going over to her table. It makes people feel good and know that they are appreciated. I mean, if you can make someone feel good, why not do it?”
I was so impressed with Davy’s outlook on making people feel good and appreciated. This was what I saw in him. He was so friendly and kind, and truly liked people. He could be zany and crazy, but also calm and gentle. His energy was warm and inviting, and he was very giving to the people around him.
“Y’know, Dolenz would never do that,”: he added as an aside. Okay. He was still human too.
I’ve met and interviewed hundreds of celebrities, but few were as kind and genuine as Davy Jones. He was a lot like the guy we saw on television, albeit it a little less cartoonish. He was sweet and full of fun. But most of all, his kindness helped me establish myself as a writer which allowed me to interview those hundreds of celebrities. I was a nobody when Verne called him. I hadn’t barely started, but Davy Jones took me and Verne at face value and trusted us enough to talk with us. It helped me establish a fifteen-year career in entertainment journalism. I owe Davy Jones a big part of that for being kind enough to take a chance on me.
When Davy Jones died suddenly in 2012, I was so unbelievably sad. The world lost a wonderful man, but I felt so lucky to have had the chance to experience him.