By Gene Ashman as told to Judith Sims
It seems that everybody and his brother (and his second cousin of a distant great aunt) are writing about the Monkees these days. It occurred to us (we have occasional—very occasional—flashes of brilliance… sometimes we even have ideas…) that no one had asked Gene Ashman to talk about the Monkees. We did just that, and he did. Gene is the wardrobe man for the Monkees, the man responsible for providing all those great clothes you see worn every Monday night by those four familiar bods. He’s known them since the beginning (of the series, not Time). This month Gene talks about the Man from Manchester, Davy Jones.
Davy has a great affinity for people—and he’s a well-known soft touch. If anyone has a problem Davy always comes through, almost to the point of putting himself in a bad financial position. Last year, for instance, at Christmastime he took six crew members and their families to San Francisco (where the Monkees had a concert date) as a present. One time I took Davy shopping with my assistant; my assistant saw a suit he liked and Davy bought it for him, just like that. He’s generous to a fault, practically. And he’s the sole support of his father, besides always doing things for his family (he has two sisters: his mother died some time ago).
Davy’s a natural athlete; he has fantastic coordination, whether it’s horseback riding, playing pool, boxing—remember that show we did on boxing? He had never boxed before, but he picked it up right away. With a little coaching he could probably be a really good boxer. He has that natural ability. It’s the same with the guitar. He never played a musical instrument before this show started, but he caught on to the guitar very quickly. He’s mainly self-taught, but he’s had a few lessons. He doesn’t play guitar on stage yet, but he does play bass for one number. He’s also started writing some songs; he’s collaborating with a friend, Charles Rocket (who’s an old Texas friend of Mike Nesmith).
When he gets back to Hollywood after the summer tour Davy will be moving into the Hollywood Hills, up above Sunset. He’s living in an apartment house now. His new place sounds pretty nice—I haven’t seen it yet—but he says it has a view, a pool, the whole bit. He’ll live there alone except for his cat—just like he does now.
The Monkees’ social life is kind of a laugh. A sad laugh, if you know what I mean. They don’t go out much at all, there just isn’t time. Nobody, I think, really knows how hard they work until you’ve been around them awhile. You realize their time isn’t their own. They usually record at night, and weekends are spent either recording, rehearsing or performing. Besides, if they go out there’s always the chance they might get mobbed, so they play it quiet and close to home. Davy’s gone down to the Troubadour and the Whisky a couple of times, but usually he invites his friends over to his place. He has his own pool table (Gene and Davy are fellow pool sharks, so Gene should know about the pool table!).
Dates? Well, as I said, they don’t really have time to meet girls, let alone date them! About the only girls they see are the ones somehow connected with show business who work on the show or visit the set. Davy has had a couple of dates with Dina [sic] Martin, and Peter used to date Leah Elliot—when there was time, which wasn’t very often!
Next month we talk to Gene about Micky Dolenz—and about the fun and problems involved in finding groovy clothes (about 63 outfits a week!) for the Monkee show.