Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Remembering David Jones (1945-2012)


This picture of actor/musician David Jones and I -- "my two favorite guys" -- was taken by Donna backstage at the Monkees concert here at Cincinnati's Aronoff Center last June 25. The news of his passing this morning hit me very personally because I've always known that I might someday have to break this news to Donna, who's loved him since 1966. She's hurting, of course, but she is taking it well and feeling fortunate for all the times we were able to meet him. She didn't expect that he, the youngest of the group and seemingly the one in most robust health (he was a horseman who rode every opportunity he had), would be the first of the Monkees to go.

We first met at a 1994 performance of GREASE in which he appeared with Brooke Shields and Sally Struthers; I pointed him out to Donna, talking with some audience members near the stage before the show began, and I watched her go down and have her long dreamed-of moment with him. I saw her speak to him, get his attention, and she said something to him that made him step forward and envelop her in his arms like it was absolutely the right thing he needed to hear at that moment. Then he walked her back up the aisle to our seats -- "you walked me down the aisle, and he walked me up the aisle" she likes to say -- and we met and he gave Donna a pre-signed photo he carried in his breast pocket and said he hoped we would enjoy the show. We did.

Since then we've met again several times, and Donna interviewed him by telephone for THE CINCINNATI POST, a dream assignment offered to her by our friends Wayne and Jan Perry. As Donna told me, a sudden heart attack was the best way for him to go -- he went in his sleep, suffered no inconveniences of old age nor long debilitating illnesses, and he continued performing and meeting his public right up to the end. I know that he had remarried to Jessica, a very young Cuban flamenco dancer, just a few years ago; he'd written and published his autobiography; he had seen his back catalogue of music with The Monkees reissued in impressively thorough and annotated sets from Rhino (thank you, Andrew Sandoval); and he was working toward a dream of building a combination theater and memorabilia museum in his adopted home town of Beavertown, PA.

Davy was incontestably the heart and soul of The Monkees, though one might argue that Micky had the more versatile voice, that Peter was the best musician, or that Mike the best songwriter. He's the one they can't do Monkees reunions without. No one is saying this yet, because it's hard enough just to lose him, but I suspect that David's passing will mean probably the end of The Monkees as well. Mike's not going back on the road in that format, and Peter and Micky as a performing duo would seem like bookends without a book. Of course, they'll all continue to play Monkees songs live, as will young and old garage bands all over the world.

There are several pics I've taken of Donna over the years with her beloved idol, including the one below, but the one I've posted above is the only one of the two of us together. We gave him a copy of our HEAD coverage on that occasion, and he signed my copy of Rhino's magnificent HEAD box set. In my experience, David -- as he referred to himself and as was his prefered billing -- was a very nice man, the most generous of all the Monkees to his fans, always the last man standing there to sign autographs. God bless him for always going that extra mile, and for making my little wife's spirit soar for all these years.

3 comments:

  1. I'm right there with ya, Donna.

    The Monkees have been a major part of my life for the last 30+ years, influencing heavily the creative work I've done in the video field. Very sad to know that what was for so long a constant in my life is has now come to an end.

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  2. Steven Kane4:08 AM

    I was out of town and away from a computer when I heard about David. One of my first thoughts was of Donna, knowing her affection for him and remembering you'd seen him and met with him recently. In the past I never would have named David as my favorite Monkee, but happily over time I was able to appreciate what a wonderful entertainer he was, a true song and dance man. One of those individuals who really loves to perform, a love audiences see and return. If he must leave so soon, it is good that everyone's last memories are of him can be that wonderful energetic, joyful Davey.

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  3. Thanks TIm, David was the greatest and so much fun as a connection to everything I loved about being young. Hard to lose that! Best to you and Donna.

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