Thursday, March 1, 2012

Me and Mr. Jones

In the fall of 1966, The Monkees TV show first aired and I was immediately hooked.  So was my then 8 year old sister Pam and, because she was always interested in whatever Pam and I did, 3 year old Carol.  Heidi wouldn't arrive until a couple of years later.  At 10 years old, The Monkees and, specifically, Davy Jones, were my first real crush.

At different times I had crushes on each of The Monkees but I always came back to Davy.  As much as I loved listening to The Beatles on the radio -- I remember "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields Forever" being two of my favorites then -- they were on the other side of the pond.  They weren't as accessible as The Monkees.  I knew I could count on seeing The Monkees every Monday night on TV.  Pam and I started collecting their albums and their 45's.  And, yes, we saw their movie "Head," too. 

I even have wonderful memories of the commercials that ran during The Monkees shows.  Yardley of London ran these great ads for Slickers lipstick (which, of course, I wasn't old enough to buy or wear) but I wanted them badly.  And I loved the English model Jean 'the Shrimp' Shrimpton.  I wanted to be 'the Shrimp' and marry Davy Jones.  Period.

Besides being so darned cute and talented, being English set Davy apart from the other Monkees (sorry, guys) and, to me, he was a link to groovy London and Carnaby Street.  Places I read about in magazines like "16" and "Tiger Beat."  Pam and I would beg our mom to buy these mags for us and she often did and even seemed to enjoy the music of The Monkees with us.

My mother thought The Monkees were pretty harmless which was good since that was a time for my family that wasn't the greatest.  We were an Air Force family and my dad had volunteered for a tour in Vietnam.  He left in July of 1966 and returned in July of 1967.  We missed him so much and I know that it was really tough on my mom to handle her own feelings on top of those of her three young daughters.  We were always a bit on edge when any news came about my dad's base.  He was not in combat.  In fact, for years I didn't really know what he did there.  It wasn't until after his death that I saw his service records and he was listed as a 'liaison' to the South Vietnamese Air Force.  Even after 40 years, almost everything about his duties was blacked out or redacted.  And to my friend Barb, no, he was not and never was a 'spook'.  I had a good laugh at that supposition.

At 10 years old I would never have guessed, in a million years, that 20 years later Pam and Carol and I would see The Monkees perform live for the first time.  Davy, Micky and Peter toured as part of a 20th anniversary reunion.  We drove 2 hours to the concert and we would have gone much further if necessary.  I'm (almost) embarrassed to admit that with all of the singers/performers I've seen over the years, many much better than The Monkees, I have never felt the way I did when the 3 of them came out on stage.  I surprised myself when I realized that I was actually jumping up and down and screaming -- something I'd never done at a concert.  The 10 year old girl was still in there.  Pam and Carol were the same way.  The Monkees looked and sounded great and put on a terrific show.  Davy's version of 'Valeri' was a sexy and funny showstopper.  We were very happy campers on the drive home.

A few years later we saw them perform again in a different city and the guys didn't disappoint.  Weird Al Yankovic opened for them and passed out scarves from around his neck a la Elvis.  Fun times.  Then, the last time we bought tickets to see The Monkees a few years later, I ended up not going due to a migraine headache.  I lost out on that one.  Davy stepped off the stage into the audience and walked up to where my sisters were sitting.  He took Carol's hand and looked into her eyes while he sang one of his signature songs, "Girl."  I nearly died when Carol told me.  It's a good thing it happened to her.  I would have probably looked like a proverbial deer in the headlights if he'd done that to me.  Carol loves to point out that when I'm really 'in' to something, I may move one foot slightly.           

As news of Davy Jones' death spread yesterday, I read so many postings on Facebook and Twitter along with articles in places like The Huffington Post and Slate that I started to think about what the Monkees and, particularly, Davy Jones meant to me.  He and The Monkees were such a big part of my childhood and, as it turned out, figured into my adult years, too.  Like many of his fans, I feel like he took a chunk of my past with him.  I read that Davy was the father of 4 daughters, just like my father, which puts him in very good company.

RIP, Mr. Jones.  You will be missed but you left me with some wonderful memories.

Davy Jones,  1945-2012

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