CLOSE
Original image

RIP Davy Jones: Remembering The Monkees

Original image

To quote a song from Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones Ltd, it’s Hard to Believe. Davy Jones, the cuddly member of the Monkees, the master of the maracas, and the guy with the fanciest footwork, has left us at the age of 66.

Davy Jones, whom every girl in my third grade class crushed on back in 1967, who nicknamed the profile-less Micky Dolenz “Skillet Face” upon first meeting him, who cheerfully reprised his role as Marcia Brady’s prom date in Real Live Brady Bunch stage shows, and whose rabid female fans cheesed Jimi Hendrix off by yelling “Foxy Davy!” during “Foxy Lady” when the guitar legend opened for the Prefab Four, has gone on to that Groovy Crash Pad in the Sky after suffering a heart attack.

Here's Jones showing off his British music hall roots in this clip from the movie Head, plus some memories of the Monkees we originally published in 2008.

In the Beginning...

Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider were aspiring filmmakers who believed that Beatlemania could be somehow translated into a US phenomenon.

Their ultimate inspiration came from the “Can’t Buy Me Love” sequence in the 1964 Beatles film A Hard Day’s Night. They came up with the concept of a sitcom about a pop band in which each episode would include an original song and a fun film “romp,” similar to the one featured in the Beatles’ film.

The pair placed ads in trades like the Hollywood Reporter during the summer of 1965 requesting “folk & roll musicians-singers for acting roles in new TV series” while simultaneously mining the songwriting talents of yet-to-be-discovered future stars such as Neil Diamond, Harry Nilsson and John Stewart. Some 400 hopefuls auditioned for the show, and eventually the final four chosen were:

Davy Jones: The Boy Who Would've Been a Jockey

David Jones was born in Manchester, England, and (thanks to his diminutive stature) his father hoped he'd become a jockey. However, a talent scout happened by his school, liked Jones' looks, and asked if he could sing. David was recruited to play the Artful Dodger in a West End production of Oliver! He ended up moving to New York to perform with the Broadway cast of the show, which is how he happened to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show the same night the Beatles made their U.S. television debut. Jones later said, "I saw the girls in the audience going crazy and decided that I wanted a piece of that."

Michael Nesmith: Songwriter to Linda Ronstadt

m nesbitt.pngMichael was four years old when his parents divorced. His mom took a secretarial job at a bank to help make ends meet. She was also something of an artist, and painted the bank windows for various holidays in order to earn extra money. It occurred to her one day while typing and trying to erase an error that a painter simply paints over any mistakes. She started experimenting with white tempera paint to cover up typos and eventually marketed her invention under the name "Liquid Paper." When she passed away in 1980 Michael inherited some $50 million of her white-out fortune. In the meantime, though, young Michael yearned to be a musician and formed a folk band. He was also a burgeoning songwriter, and by the time he was hired as a Monkee, Linda Ronstadt had already recorded a song of his called "Different Drum."

Micky Dolenz: Circus Boy

m dolenz.pngGeorge Michael Dolenz grew up in a show business family. His father had starred in the TV series The Count of Monte Cristo, and his mother worked as an agent. When Micky was 11 years old, he landed the lead in a television series called Circus Boy. As a teen he sang, played guitar and occasionally drummed in various garage bands. But it was actually his knack for impersonations and improv as well as his comedic sense of timing that landed him a role as a Monkee.

Peter Tork: Suggested to the group by Stephen Stills!

m tork.pngAfter Peter Thorkelson graduated from college in Connecticut, he spent much of his time playing folk music in various clubs in New York's Greenwich Village. He eventually moved to the West Coast and got gigs on the L.A. folk circuit. Stephen Stills (later of Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, and Nash fame) auditioned for The Monkees and was told that he'd be perfect for the show if only his hairline wasn't already receding and his teeth were in better shape. Rather than being bitter at the rejection, he recommended his good friend and look-alike Peter Tork. Peter had the appropriate "look" and could also play guitar, bass and banjo, so the group was now complete.

John Lennon Praised Them

The show was an immediate hit and won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series after its first season. Their success was something of a double-edged sword, however, because the group felt compelled to go out on tour to prove themselves to those critics who claimed the Monkees weren't musicians. But in the record business, it's always a matter of striking while the iron is hot, so the band had to write and record songs in between gigs. And then there was the matter of filming the next season of the series. As John Lennon later said when asked his opinion of The Monkees: "They've got their own scene, and I won't send them down for it. You try a weekly television show and see if you can manage one half as good!"

Neil Diamond's First Hit

If nothing else, the Monkees gave some fledgling songwriters their first national exposure. "I'm a Believer" gave Neil Diamond his first number one hit as a songwriter. They also gave Harry Nilsson (who would later go on to have hits on his own with "Without You" and "Everybody's Talkin'," to name a few) his chart success when they recorded his tune "Cuddly Toy."

Davy Jones Was Not a Believer

One of the Monkees' number one hits was "Daydream Believer," a song Davy Jones hated at first. He felt that it wasn't in his key, and he didn't understand the lyrics. (He was from England and didn't know what a "homecoming queen" was.) It wasn't until after the tune topped the charts that he grudgingly admitted, "Maybe it's not that bad of a song after all."

The Alternate Title of "Alternate Title"

Micky Dolenz composed a tune that he named after a phrase he'd heard on a British TV series called Till Death Us Do Part. When the song was released, however, BBC censors insisted that its name — “Randy Scouse Git” — be replaced with an alternate title, since it was some sort of obscenity in British slang. Dolenz complied by re-naming his song "Alternate Title," and it went all the way to #2 on the British pop charts in 1967.

Please feel free to share your Davy love and favorite Monkees TV moments/songs/whatever at this sad time. It will hopefully make us all feel just a little bit better.

Original image
FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images
arrow
Animals
Fisherman Catches Rare Blue Lobster, Donates It to Science
Original image
FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images

Live lobsters caught off the New England coast are typically brown, olive-green, or gray—which is why one New Hampshire fisherman was stunned when he snagged a blue one in mid-July.

As The Independent reports, Greg Ward, from Rye, New Hampshire, discovered the unusual lobster while examining his catch near the New Hampshire-Maine border. Ward initially thought the pale crustacean was an albino lobster, which some experts estimate to be a one-in-100-million discovery. However, a closer inspection revealed that the lobster's hard shell was blue and cream.

"This one was not all the way white and not all the way blue," Ward told The Portsmouth Herald. "I've never seen anything like it."

While not as rare as an albino lobster, blue lobsters are still a famously elusive catch: It's said that the odds of their occurrence are an estimated one in two million, although nobody knows the exact numbers.

Instead of eating the blue lobster, Ward decided to donate it to the Seacoast Science Center in Rye. There, it will be studied and displayed in a lobster tank with other unusually colored critters, including a second blue lobster, a bright orange lobster, and a calico-spotted lobster.

[h/t The Telegraph]

Original image
Courtesy Murdoch University
arrow
Animals
Australian Scientists Discover First New Species of Sunfish in 125 Years
Original image
Courtesy Murdoch University

Scientists have pinpointed a whole new species of the largest bony fish in the world, the massive sunfish, as we learned from Smithsonian magazine. It's the first new species of sunfish proposed in more than 125 years.

As the researchers report in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, the genetic differences between the newly named hoodwinker sunfish (Mola tecta) and its other sunfish brethren was confirmed by data on 27 different samples of the species collected over the course of three years. Since sunfish are so massive—the biggest can weigh as much as 5000 pounds—they pose a challenge to preserve and store, even for museums with large research collections. Lead author Marianne Nyegaard of Murdoch University in Australia traveled thousands of miles to find and collected genetic data on sunfish stranded on beaches. At one point, she was asked if she would be bringing her own crane to collect one.

Nyegaard also went back through scientific literature dating back to the 1500s, sorting through descriptions of sea monsters and mermen to see if any of the documentation sounded like observations of the hoodwinker. "We retraced the steps of early naturalists and taxonomists to understand how such a large fish could have evaded discovery all this time," she said in a press statement. "Overall, we felt science had been repeatedly tricked by this cheeky species, which is why we named it the 'hoodwinker.'"

Japanese researchers first detected genetic differences between previously known sunfish and a new, unknown species 10 years ago, and this confirms the existence of a whole different type from species like the Mola mola or Mola ramsayi.

Mola tecta looks a little different from other sunfish, with a more slender body. As it grows, it doesn't develop the protruding snout or bumps that other sunfish exhibit. Similarly to the others, though, it can reach a length of 8 feet or more. 

Based on the stomach contents of some of the specimens studied, the hoodwinker likely feeds on salps, a jellyfish-like creature that it probably chomps on (yes, sunfish have teeth) during deep dives. The species has been found near New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and southern Chile.

[h/t Smithsonian]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios