Photos and Story by Bob Custer
Two weeks with Davy Jones on a trip around the world is something that most people dream about. I was lucky enough to have this happen to me. You see, since I’ve been taking pictures of Davy for TiGER BEAT, he and I have become very good friends. So when his vacation began, Davy asked me to come along. I said, “Great, as long as I can take pictures for TiGER BEAT.” Davy agreed, so off we went on a really exciting and interesting trip.
Our first lap was from Los Angeles to New York. We only had one day in New York, but Davy did get a chance to meet some of the Raiders. Right after our short stop in New York, we took off for the Bahamas for some time in the sun.
Davy is probably one of the world’s most unusual travelers. He’s always in a good humor and loves chatting with all kinds of people on airplanes. Naturally, liking the fairer sex, some of his favorite people happen to be attractive stewardesses, and by the way, these stewardesses really have a good time with him. He’s so full of pep that he can cheer them up no matter how long they have been on duty or what hour of the day or night it is.
Unfortunately, we only got to stay that one lone day in New York. This in itself was quite an experience, because no matter how quiet we tried to keep his being there, the word would get out. Davy Jones is in New York! The phones rang—the bells clanged—it was a wild scene!
So away from the cold city we went and off we were, winging our way toward the beautiful Bahamian Islands. Although Davy is from England and Nassau in the Bahamas is a British protectorate, Davy had never been there before, so he was quite excited in anticipation. So was I. The next three days were to be spent gathering as much suntan as possible.
Davy liked the free-going ways of the Bahamians in Nassau, but to be perfectly frank, our stay there was a bit disappointing. While Davy himself is very outgoing, warm and friendly, we found that such wasn’t the case with some of the people in Nassau. While he wasn’t recognized at first, this soon changed as people started to point to one of the world-famous Monkees. A funny thing happened—many cab drivers asked him to sign his autograph right on the dollar bills Davy paid them for fares. I imagine by this time there are many framed dollar bills in Nassau!
After about three days in the Bahamas, Davy started to get a little anxious to be moving on. While he can be very patient, he feels there is so much to see in this world and he wants to take as much of it in as possible. So up into the blue yonder and off to Jamaica, which is a little further south in the Carribbean Sea.
We landed in Kingston which is the capitol and were really in a state of shock! You really wouldn’t believe it, but they were having a garbage strike there. As crazy as it may seem, the garbage was piled in high mounds so that much of the tremendous beauty we were later to find in Jamaica was missing in Kingston.
After one day there we decided to go to another part of the island. We rented a car and with Davy behind the wheel, away we went. For me it was rather peculiar because in Jamaica as in England they drive on the left side. Of course all this was quite natural to Davy, but it took me two or three days to get used to the whole bit. Fortunately, Davy loves to get behind the wheel of a car and tool around the curves. It was a little frightening, but he is a great driver and we had no trouble finding our way around Jamaica.
Jamaica one day and then whammo! With Davy behind the wheel again we shot off to Ochos Rios. This is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It is almost like a penninsula jutting out into the warm Carribbean Sea. The world-famous Playboy Club is located there, so there’s a very nice night life to go with the daytime gathering of sunshine, and believe me in Jamaica the sun really does shine!
But nevertheless I could see that Davy was starting to seem a little restless and we undoubtedly wouldn’t stay long in Ochos Rios. In fact, he told me that he was sort of disappointed because the vacation wasn’t turning out to be as much fun as he had hoped.
We decided that as long as we had the car we might as well drive to Montego Bay. We headed out again, and this is where we should have come first, because it was by far the best! The people were the friendliest there. We stayed at the Breezy Point Hotel, which is quite a place! It’s a very beautiful hotel just outside the city and overlooking a point—very quiet, very restful, very congenial. We did nothing but sunbathe all day. Just generally rested. Davy loves doing this because he gets a terrific suntan very quickly.
We had dinner that night at the Fairview Inn. They serve delicious steaks, delicious fresh lobster, and it’s a meal that takes two hours to eat. It was like something you read about in a book or see in a movie. The weather was ideal. They even had strolling minstrels; guitar players that would come up to the table. Usually they sing about two songs at each table, but they sang seven at ours and Davy harmonized with them. About this time the word was all around the club that Davy Jones, one of the famous Monkees, was a guest. Many of the people were delighted with Davy’s singing with the wandering minstrels.
It was apparent now that the atmosphere of the vacation had completely changed and from here on we were really to enjoy our stay in Jamaica. The people were the warmest and friendliest in the world, the waters were perfectly delightful and all of us were turning browner than berries. If you ever ask Davy his opinion of Jamaica, he’ll tell you that nobody should miss it during a lifetime. I agree 100 per cent! By the way, the girls down there are most attractive and they have a manner and a way of speaking that is outasite! It’s sort of a Calypso with a touch of England in it and you put that together with their sheer beauty and it makes the greatest female combination possible. Without giving away secrets, I’m sure this had something to do with Davy wanting to stay in Jamaica another three or four days, and who could blame him?
Sunday we got up early, had breakfast, and got ready for the plane. Davy was hoping the plane would be delayed for two or three days because he was really enjoying it in Montego Bay. It turned out that the plane was four hours late and we had to sit in the hot, humid airport. It’s an outdoor airport. The only enclosure was the restaurant and that did have air conditioning—to the point where you froze. It was from one extreme to the other. We left Jamaica and it was 80 degrees. Five hours later we arrived in New York and it was 12 degrees. We had to go to New York to catch a flight to London.
Davy was now pretty well bushed from the hectic week of vacationing we had just gone through. Fortunately, he’s never bothered by airplane traveling so he slept the majority of the time. While I did enjoy the flight myself, I was so eager to get my first glimpse of England that I hardly shut my eyes all the way across the Atlantic. So between looking at Davy peacefully sleeping away by the window, I spent much of my time loading my cameras in anticipation of what was to come and believe me, it came!
Photos were taken by Bob Custer on Davy’s vacation in Nassau and Jamaica
All of a sudden, one of the crew from the cabin came in and said, “Mr. Jones, we have to land in a special spot because there’s a commotion at the airport.” Davy was expecting something, but nothing this huge. The pilot said, “When we land, you get off last.” As we taxied up the runway, there were hundreds of policemen and girls—that’s all you could see. I started to get my camera out and Davy said, “Don’t, Bob. This mob may smash your expensive cameras!” He was very cautious. I wanted to take pictures, but Davy said, “Put it away. You might just get crushed.” Davy always thinks about everyone else first and then himself.
We were escorted by a group of guards outside the plane, right down the ramp and right into the police van. We detoured and were used as a decoy. The main limousine was waiting in a secret place, away from the airport. We picked up the limousine and all the representatives from Screen Gems and RCA took us in the limousine to Grosvenor House Hotel. It was around 11:45 when we arrived at the hotel.
Davy settled down for two days of press interviews. We had people coming and going in and out of that hotel like it was Grand Central Station. He met with reporters and photographers until six o’clock and then slept for a couple of hours. He told me he was willing to spend two days and maybe three, if necessary, with the press and that would be it. He also did TV and radio interviews. They were all done in the hotel room, because he could not move about freely due to the enormous amount of fans. There were about 500 of them outside.
He was asked the same questions over and over again as very few reporters used any imagination. Occasionally a good one would come along and Davy would spark up. He liked constructive questions thrown at him.
Monday when we arrived after our two-hour rest, we went out to a Chinese dinner and from there we went to three nightclubs: The Cromwellian, The Scotch of St. James and The Bag O’ Nails. We had a little trouble at the first club because there were gangs of photographers following us. At The Bag O’ Nails we saw Sonny and Cher coming out as we were going in. Cher recognized us right away and said, “What are YOU doing HERE?” Davy already knew Sonny and Cher. Both of them are very big fans and friends of the Monkees. Later on Mick and Brian of the Stones came in with their dates.
Davy really digs mini-skirts and he mentioned to me, “Why can’t more of our girls wear them?” The mini-skirts do look good.
He met all day Tuesday with the reporters. We decided to head out for Middleham, Yorkshire in the middle of the night so we would get there safely and not be recognized.
In case you’re wondering, Middleham, Yorkshire is a place very close to Davy’s heart. It’s a beautiful part of England where Davy first learned to ride horses before he became a full-fledged winning jockey. He loves this area very much and will always go back to it every chance he gets. I don’t believe he’ll change his feelings throughout the rest of his life.
But for our trip to Middleham we decided another car would be needed, so this time we got a very swift Triumph. By this time it was getting to be a problem getting out of the hotel. So before we could leave for Middleham, we had to call hotel security to help us get out of London.
Davy does love his fans, but I’m sure you can all realize that sometimes when you’re vacationing and you are constantly surrounded by thousands of kids, it does get a little difficult to do the things you’d like to. But I must say Davy’s handling of the situation was always in the gentlemanly manner and he tried to accommodate and make everyone happy.
This time it was a little rough getting out of the hotel. Here’s how they did it: They told the kids if they behaved Davy would sign autographs. It was raining, cold and foggy, and by now the crowd had dwindled down to about 100 kids. So they all got in line and promised faithfully that they would wait in line and once they got an autograph they would leave. So Davy came out the door. The good behavior lasted about five minutes and that was that! Everybody started to go wild, so with the hotel security working with us, we rushed Davy into a car that was already in motion. With many kids still shouting and press photographers following us, off we raced into the night to Middleham, Yorkshire.
We knew there were two press cars following us, but soon our fearless driver Ray lost them. We turned just about every corner on two wheels, but finally we were on our way! But this time all was calm and serene as our car sped into the quiet night.
We stopped about an hour later and got some typical British fish and chips, wrapped in a newspaper. Davy could eat this combination every day of his life. By the way, the English really go for this combination—fried fish and french fried potatoes served in a wrapped newspaper. On top of this, believe it or not, they sprinkle vinegar on both the fish and the chips. Over there it’s as popular as our kids eating hot dogs and hamburgers. It’s nothing uncommon to see people walking down any main street in England with a newspaper cone full of steaming hot fish and chips. I got to like it myself. In fact, it’s wild!
Then we stopped about two miles later to get something to drink. We were thirsty because of the fish and chips. There happened to be some kids in the restaurant and Davy was recognized, but the owner told the kids to stay in their seats, so Davy signed some napkins for them.
As we drove closer and closer to Middleham, Davy got more excited and talkative. He began telling me about his earlier life as an apprentice jockey. As he talked he continued to get more relaxed because it is like his second home. He was anxious to see Basil Foster, his former horse trainer, because he hadn’t seen him for a year. Their reunion was heartwarming.
Because of all the ins and outs of these little country towns, we weren’t quite sure we’d find their home. Therefore, we met Basil, his wife and a friend at a wayside restaurant just outside Middleham then we followed them to their house. When we got there we found the hotel people hadn’t put our suitcases or my cameras in the car. You see, hotel security had said they would load the car. They took our suitcases and everything, but they never got them to the car in all the excitement. Davy got on the phone and called the hotel and said “Guess what!” And they said, “Yes, we know.” So they had a special truck bring all our things down and they arrived by morning. Thank goodness everything was O.K.
Davy stayed with Basil and his wife and I stayed at the pub just around the corner. The pub looks out on the main square of Middleham, all of 800 population. When you crawl into bed you crawl into a foot of bedding, because the bedding is a foot thick. They don’t have heating like we have here and it’s about a cold 29 degree weather. I woke up in the morning to hear many, many hoofbeats. Middleham is, of course, a training center for jump horses, race horses and jockeys. Every morning starting at 7 a.m. they take them out running on the moors for their morning exercise.
Soon I heard a knock at the door and here was our host with a cup of tea. This is how you’re awakened in England. It’s just part of their hospitality. We had breakfast and then went over to Basil’s house where they were preparing the horses. Davy was eating breakfast when we arrived and everyone was excited about his being there. He was going to ride a horse called “Candid Pictures.” Davy then got into his riding gear. Davy had picked out “Candid Pictures” because he had remembered him from the last time. He was a big baby, but Davy was most competent even though he hadn’t been on a horse for a long time. He was dressed nice and warm—two sweaters and two pairs of pants. Then he left for his ride.
After his ride we had lunch and we walked down to the pub and had a game of darts. I can’t really explain an English pub to you. You hear about and read about the English pub, but they are without a doubt the most fantastic places. They are little inns where food and drink are served. It is also the gathering place for each village. Even though you are a total stranger, you are most welcome and even more so once they get to know you.
Davy played about two dart games and we stayed there about three hours. Conversation during the dart game was almost all reminiscing. Some jockeys that he used to ride with came into the pub and it was mostly horse-talk. Then we went back to Basil Foster’s house and had dinner. On our way back to Basil’s we stopped at a store and got some sandwich spread that Davy especially liked. It’s salmon spread. He said. “Bob, you’ve just got to try this.” So we had it for lunch the next day. Davy loves all kinds of fish dishes.
That night we went back down to the pub because they were having a dart tournament. Again, word had gotten around that Davy was there, so several of his jockey friends came down to see him. There were two or three very famous jockeys there. We went back to Basil’s and watched TV.
Thursday morning we were forced to purposely let false information out that we were headed back for Manchester to see Davy’s father and the newsmen fell for it. They took off for Manchester, so we had the whole day to ourselves. We went sightseeing and to the Bolton Castle. It was a fantastic castle, needless to say; and even Lord Bolton was there. We took some pictures of the castle and thoroughly enjoyed our stay. We had tea at the castle. We laughed and joked around the table. Generally, we had five hours of congenial fun. Davy thoroughly enjoyed it, most of all because there were no newsmen hanging around.
We decided to leave for Manchester that night. Basil thought he would drive down with us and bring back Davy’s father to Middleham. We arrived at one o’clock in the morning and guess what we saw—news reporters and photographers. Davy was very disgusted about this. He said, “I’ve given them two days in London and this is supposed to be my vacation.”
When we got in the house, Davy embraced his father and they were both very happy to see each other. His sister, Hazel, and her husband were there. I liked his sister very much right away. She’s a very nice, outgoing young lady. She made provision for me downstairs, and we could see Davy’s father was very tired. So we went to bed. As it was, Davy and his father stayed up all night talking.
We woke up the next morning and, of course, word had gotten around that Davy was home and as we opened the door we saw at least 200 kids out front. They kept coming up and ringing the doorbell until we finally had to disconnect it. Two girls even brought horses there hoping that Davy would come out, but they were bringing the darn horses right up to the door step! There was complete disregard for Davy’s father’s garden! It was completely trampled.
Meanwhile, Davy got a call from actress Violet Carson, who starred with Davy on “Coronation Street” when he was 11 years old. (Also, Herman got his start on this show.) So he wanted to get to the TV station and see her. We made provisions to get him out. He got out, thank goodness, but he couldn’t wait for us because the girls completely surrounded the car.
We went down to Granada TV where Davy did an interview with Violet Carson. Then we stopped again for typical British tea. After this we went up to his sister Hazel’s house and spent five hours and had dinner and talked and then headed back for Davy’s father’s house. I left with Basil and Davy followed. By the time we arrived the ranks had grown to about 400 or 500 kids. Of course, they thought we were Davy, so they entirely engulfed the car. They were shaking it and trying to climb up on the car. Finally Basil got the door open and said, “All right, we’re not Davy. Davy’s not coming.”
So we got out of the car. I helped Mr. Jones into the house. We hoped Davy would be wise enough to see he couldn’t get in and not come, but we were worried. As it was, he did approach the house and when he saw all the commotion, he turned around.
By now, the kids were getting real rowdy and they tore down the fence, and trampled more of the garden. So we called the police. When the police came they put all the kids on the other side of the street. Then they thought everything would be OK to get Davy in. Davy tried to get through but didn’t quite make it.
We decided we could get Davy in the back way so we drove around completely in the dark. Finally we found where the exact back entrance was and where we had to go through. Then the policeman had a great idea and I only wish I could have gotten pictures of it. It would have to be the picture of the year! They put a woman’s coat on Davy and a bandana on his head. Then they bribed four little kids, two on each side of him, to hold his hand and walk down the street, pretending he was a mother with four children.
In the meantime I’d taken all Davy’s personal belongings—his rings, his watch, his wallet, his coat—to make sure they would be safe. He walked very calmly and very discreetly and some of the kids looked and said, “No, it couldn’t be…” and “It’s not him.” All of a sudden three of the kids recognized him and started yelling. So they raced ahead of him and by this time he was in bounds so he could leap over a fence. So over a seven-foot fence he vaulted. He made it and ran like crazy through knee deep mud and finally got safely into the house.
He couldn’t believe it! The first thing he said to me was, “Bob, how’s my father?” He was very concerned about his father. He said, “Well, Bob, guess what?” Without trying to guess, I answered, “I know, we’re leaving tonight.”
Unfortunately the police thought now that Davy was safely inside the house that they could leave. This was a pure invitation for kids to surround the house. This time the back fence was going down. A couple of panes in the front door were kicked in. It was getting ridiculous, so we called the police again.
This time 27 squad cars answered the call, including the very typical inspector. Like “I’m here now. I’ll take charge.” It was just like in “Help!” He was not to be believed! Davy said, “Well, we better leave now for my father’s safety as well as my own.” The inspector said, “I’ll work out a plan.” We packed the car and put Davy in the back on the floor.
This time we had a police escort—three cars in front and three cars in back. In the middle of town they got rid of the four extra cars, so it was only the inspector in front of us and one car in back of us. They took us out to the M1 Highway. Finally we breathed a sigh of relief. Davy was still worried about his father in Manchester. We arrived at the Grosvenor House at three in the morning. This was early Saturday morning and we were hungry so we had a sandwich and went to bed. We woke up the next morning being serenaded by at least 500 kids. They knew Davy Jones was back in London town!
We had to do the Rolf Harris Show so they made arrangements to get him out of the hotel safely. We almost lost Davy getting him out of the hotel, so called “safely.” He was really shook up about this one. It was the closest we came to losing him.
The kids were all congregated at the Grosvenor House, so we thought there wouldn’t be any at the Rolf Harris Theater. There were only about 12, but they rushed Davy in.
We did a quick radio interview for a pirate radio station and then headed back to the hotel. They drove Davy in another car and we acted as a decoy in the limousine. We kept going around the block drawing the kids’ attention. They were pounding on the windows and everything!
Davy made it back to the Grosvenor House safely and he decided to rest. He invited some friends up and had a party that night. Sunday we got up late, mosied around and thought we might actually get a chance to see London. We were able to get out, but we couldn’t take pictures in Trafalger Square or anything like that because there were too many people out. We were able to get some shots in front of St. James Palace. Then Davy went and ordered five new suits made from his own designs.
I flew home the next day because there was much work waiting to be done on TiGER BEAT and the MONKEE SPECTACULAR. Davy decided he wasn’t going to come back for a few days. He wanted to go back and visit his beloved Middleham. Basil had brought his father back to Middleham, so at least Davy got three days alone with his father.
During the entire trip I never saw Davy lose his temper. His eyes are always sparkling and full of fun. Food seems to be one of his favorite pastimes. He enjoyed all types of unusual cooking.
Everywhere we went the people who knew Davy before his success showed their genuine affection for him. Davy’s a giver, not a taker and he gives himself freely to others. The one bad thing about his trip was Davy’s concern over his father. He was very worried that all the excitement might upset Mr. Jones, who has not been in the best of health lately.
About the fans, Davy felt that the English fans were a little bit too rough, but he appreciated the fact that they love the Monkees in England. The next time he goes there to see his father, he plans to keep the trip a deep, dark secret from the press. How he can do it, I’ll never know!
Hope he takes me along again, because I’d love to be able to take more pictures of Davy for all of you to see. It was a terrific assignment! One I’ll never forget. I wish you all could have been there with me. But maybe you can help relive it through the articles here and in TiGER BEAT.