Davy… Is He Misunderstood?

Fraak, Spotte, Mike Nesmith
Info Like all the Monkees, Mike’s a great dog-lover.

When the glare of the spotlight is full upon him, it is easy for an international pop star to become misunderstood—often through circumstances completely beyond his own control. Since the Monkees started, each one of them has emerged as a separate, highly-individual personality and that’s the way it should be.

BUT… is Davy Jones the MOST misunderstood of ’em all? When writers, specially those who don’t really dig the Monkees, get going on the boys they’re often suggesting that he’s the one with the biggest head! Surely that’s not true—no, it’s definitely NOT true, as all we Monkee fans know.

However, Davy is often portrayed as the one who leaps around most, often seems to be in the forefront of pictures, frequently appears to have the mostest to say to reporters. But this, surely, doesn’t make him big-headed. It just makes him a personality-packed and energetic character who really is of much more value to reporters and photographers than the sort of star who just peers grumpily at newspapermen and utters the odd “yes” and “no” to questions.

We watched Davy in action at Press conferences and the most important thing to note is that while he’s eager and anxious to be helpful, he certainly doesn’t play up to the scribes. Sure, he gives the impression of being the sort of guy who likes to GIVE himself most enthusiastically to the job in hand… but who can say that is a bad thing. And anyone who regards that as being big- headed simply doesn’t understand what this pop industry, this show business is all about.

Even when he’s just about asleep on his feet, following a long trans-Atlantic trip, Davy manages to force himself to be helpful. When photographers stand around trying to think of a new angle for a picture, he’ll suddenly come to life and say: “How would it be if I took my shirt off? Or maybe we could get something good if I push the tea-trolley round the hotel lounge.”

Now if somebody who wasn’t sold on the Monkees reported this, they COULD say: “Davy Jones, keen on getting in the picture, decided to do a few stunt poses.” Which could also look as if he was being big-time. A wrong conclusion, however. In a case like this, it is the photographer who HAS to get a picture—and instead of having a star sitting back and saying for him to get on with it, here we have the star actually offering friendly help. No, Davy is not all that keen on the spotlight following him around wherever he goes. But when Pressmen take the bother to turn up to meet him, he believes in being as helpful as he possibly can. Which is a whole heap different to being big-headed.

In fact, there’s another completely different side to Davy. Which is the main point of this piece, specially for the benefit of his millions of fans. There is a LONELY Davy Jones… a Davy Jones who sometimes simply has to get away from it all. “I have to leave the natural Monkee surroundings”, he said to us recently, “Just so I can find out who this Manchester boy David Jones really is”.

Now does this bit of info sound like Davy was the large-hatted sort of character some of his knockers would have us believe? Course it doesn’t. Davy told us more: “Remember that an awful lot has happened to us Monkees in a very short space of time. All the time we’ve been surrounded by experts… accountants, directors, musicians, guys who are paid to see that we’re shown off in the very best light. This is the part of the star bit that can get wearing.

“And sometimes, if there was a bit of a break coming up in our schedule, I’d get right away from the whole atmosphere. I’d feel I’d had enough, was getting grumpy with folks who were my mates.”

In the States, things have been written about Davy’s last “away-from-it-all” journey.

There was a girl named Rhonda, who was walking in a Phoenix street when a car hit her and she was taken, very ill indeed, to a nearby hospital. She was carrying a Monkee album… and she kept telling the doctors that she was going to be all right just so long as she could get a good-luck message from Davy Jones.

And so Davy, predictably, spent some of his so-rare spare time visiting Rhonda. He was horrified to learn that she had to have a leg amputated; but he was delighted to find out the great effect his visit had on her. He suddenly realized that while he was right there in the spotlight, he tended to lose touch with the ordinary people who made up the mass of the Monkee fans.

“That did it for me”, he said. “When I visited that girl, I sometimes went out and about and just talked to people. Sometimes I’d felt I was in an artificial world, where I was a bit like a little goldfish swimming round and round a glass bowl. I figured that the real ME could get a better chance if only I could get out and about more. It really does add up to trying to FIND my real self again… sounds silly, doesn’t it—because in actual fact nothing is really ever lost.

“So I started going round and about, with no plans. Just hop in my car. I went to a wonderful spot down Mexico way, driving through along by Santa Barbara, all along that coast. If I wanted to stop, I just stopped. Some people sure recognized me, but they treated me nicely. I wanted to talk to them and they wanted to talk to me. It was just like walking round Manchester back in the old days—only the sunshine was a lot stronger.”

The names of places visited trip off Davy’s tongue. Like Monterey, Sacramento Delta, Mammoth Park. He remembers them all, even though this was a series of one-nighters with only a fraction of the usual hysteria attached to them. He met some families who lived on houseboats on a river, talked to them, got invited inside for dinner… and on one occasion ended up there as a member of the crew for a few days. A working member, too—Davy was handy with a brush back in the days when he was a stable-boy.

He found that when he arrived unheralded in these out-of-the-way places, he could find complete relaxation doing the simple things of life. He didn’t have to stay in big hotels, as stars always should. He had the chance to visit schools, like one in Oakdale, in California. The kids out in the playing-fields spotted him as he strolled past, so he called in and gave them a day to remember.

“But it was a day to remember for me, too. They were naturally interested in what I was doing, but they somehow sensed that it was all informal and they kinda communicated their enjoyment to me. Believe me, break like this means a heck of a lot to me. Maybe I worry too much about my work. But you must remember that you can be the biggest star in the world—yet still have to be a human being. You can’t work all the time at full pressure without something snapping… and I guess I was lucky in that nothing snapped, even though I could see the warning signs in feeling so irritable with people around me.”

Mammoth Park sticks firmly in Davy’s mind. Wondrous scenery, plenty of water-skiing, a lot of relaxation and hardly anybody in sight to bring him back to the hard reality of life as a big, big pop star. “Maybe what counted most was the fact that nobody was organizing my every move” he said. “You can be surrounded by folk and still feel lonely, because of the strain you’re under. I’d hate for to be lonely all the time, but there are spells when solitude is the most important thing for me.

“I like making new friends, of course. I’ve got a lot of them in show business, but always the talk gets round to work… to how your career is going. Just rambling round little places, just dots on the map, enables me to make new friends who have a completely different set of values in life. Beautiful people, they are. In the real sense of the words.” Sure Davy, in a strictly UNbigheaded way, put on the odd show in the role of being a Monkee. But equally, he’s nothing like the brash character some knockers would make him out. He’s a sensitive cove who really does enjoy… yes, getting away from it all.

That goldfish-bowl glare of publicity can be a very lonely place in which to live.

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Magazine: Monkees Monthly
Editor: Jackie Richmond
Issue: 20
Publisher: Monkees Monthly
Pages: 27–28