Davy Jones – David Jones (1965)

Prior to finding fame with the Monkees, Davy Jones released an album in 1965 under the named “David Jones” which gave an early glimpse into the future 60’s icon we’d come to love.

Visited Kops Records in Oshawa this past weekend and scored lots of great deals on vintage vinyl, but I was excited to walk out with Davy Jones’ 1965 self titled album which he released prior to being a Monkee. Its an album I’ve seen on-line before, and one that I’ve often wondered about because not only did the Monkees have a huge part in my development of being a music fan, but Davy Jones is a man that has a special place in my heart because he was amongst the earliest celebrities which I had interviewed in my career as a writer, and was one of the most genuine and nicest people I had ever spent time with. This album is a bit of an oddity, giving a glimpse into a pre-Monkee Jones still trying to figure out where he was going to fit into the music industry.

Davy Jones started his career as an actor at age 16 when he won small roles on British television programs such as” Coronation Street” and “Z-Cars.” But, he quickly became disinterested in show business and wanted to become a racing jockey. Dropping out of school, he began training with rider Bill Foster and pursued a career in riding horses very seriously. It’d be a passion that would last him his entire life, and by the end of his life he owned fourteen race horses. In fact, when Davy died in 2012, he was found at the stables where he kept his horses.

Davy Jones first found noteriety in the role of The Artful Dodger in the original London cast of the hit musical “Oliver!” The role brought him to America where he was nominated for a Tony Award, appeared on Ed Sullivan and was signed to Columbia Records.

But his mentor thought there was more out there than riding horses for Davy, and when a friend of his told him about an upcoming musical of Oliver Twist being developed for the London stage, Foster encouraged Davy to go out for the role. Davy did, and he won the key role of the Artful Dodger in the original cast of the Broadway smash “Oliver!” One of the biggest stage successes of the era, the show was moved from London to New York, and at age 18, Davy left home to play the Artful Dodger in the US. The show became a New York sensation as well, and Davy, with his likeable personality and cheeky stage persona, charmed audiences and critics alike, earning him a Tony nomination.

Davy made his American TV debut that year when the cast of “Oliver!” was invited to appear on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Sullivan was a huge supporter of Broadway, and often had the cast of hit productions on his Sunday night variety show, and Davy would be the centerpiece of the TV performance by doing a performing “I’d Do Anything” with his beautiful co-star Georgia Brown. But Davy wasn’t the only performer on the show that night from across the pond. The cast of “Oliver!” appeared on the February 9th, 1964 episode of Ed Sullivan. Sound familiar? Well, that night a record breaking audience tuned in to see The Beatles perform for the first time in America. Davy watched the Fab Four perform their history making set from the wings of the Ed Sullivan Theater stage, and when he saw the girls in the audience screaming and losing their minds he said to himself “I want a piece of that action.”

On the night that Davy Jones appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” another group from England was making their American debut – The Beatles. As approximately 73 millions people watched from home, Davy Jones was watching their performance from the wings of the stage.

A year later Davy was signed by Columbia Records, and sprouting a Paul Anka type look, put out his self titled album under the name “David” Jones with little fanfare. Its an interesting listen, but an album that struggles to find an identity. It’s like the producers didn’t know what to do with Davy Jones at that moment in time. They knew there was something in him. He was good looking, had a big personality, a charismatic stage presence and people genuinely liked him. But what kind of singer was he? The album, as aa result, is a mish mash of stuff ranging from show tunes to music hall numbers, to Davy even doing a Bob Dylan number, and one of the more inspired additions, a fairly decent cover of “My Dad,” which was a minor hit a few years earlier for Paul Petersen. But the lack of cohesion seems to make a limp record, and while there are glimpses of the Davy Jones yet to come, David Jones didn’t rock the world.

In 1966 Davy Jones became a Monkee. Already signed to Columbia, he was the only member of the group who didn’t audition. The gig secured him as a pop culture icon and fan favorite.

But as history would prove, the world wasn’t done with Davy Jones. Still signed to Columbia, a year later a new project was being developed and auditions were being held for a new “Fab Four” – The Monkees. Before auditions were even held, Davy Jones was already signed to the project, being the only Monkee who didn’t need to audition for the group. The rest is pop history.

Whether you think the Monkees are legit or not (and I will fight you and tell you they are very legit), Davy Jones did get his piece of that Beatles action, and lots of 1960’s teens loved Davy more than Paul or Ringo. He wasn’t the best singer, and even within the Monkees, he was probably the least musical. But the guy paid his dues, and Davy Jones proved that personality went a long long way.

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