Thursday, March 1, 2012


I never met the man but he certainly was at the heart of what made the Monkees popular and am sad to see him go and only 66.

As those who read this blog know, I try to bring my personal experiences as a musician, poet, writer, actor and political activist, among other things, into my daily posts as much as possible to give a reason to write it and I hope for someone else to find it interesting.

So my condolences go out to Jones' family and friends and fans, of which I was one. But I must admit I didn't really pay much attention to The Monkees when they first came on the scene, nor did I think much about their music. I knew of them originally because a guy from my hometown, from the hill where the wealthy lived, was one of the group that created The Monkees as an American TV version of The Beatles. His name was Burt Schneider and he passed not long ago himself.

Burt eventually became a film producer and I got to know him a bit in my Hollywood days. He was friends with my second wife, if I remember correctly, but I hung around with him in the years when she and I were no longer together at parties and possible movie projects that nothing ever came of.

Initially I found the idea of The Monkees an insult to what I thought the Beatles had and were accomplishing. But then, I resisted The Beatles at first too, until I worked out a few of their early tunes on piano (like "Do You Want to Know a Secret") and realized they were really great song writers. I've been way ahead of the curve on many things, but way behind it on some others, including The Monkees.

I didn't really get how great they actually were until my older son, when he was in a band during his high school years called The Dreadsteins ("Rasta from Jerusalem" they claimed, my son wasn't Jewish like some of his band mates but did have dreadlocks for several years) and did their reggae versions, if I remember correctly, of "Stepping Stone" and "Last Train to Clarksville."

Whatever Monkee tunes my son Miles' band did back then, again, way too many years late, it helped me see how great The Monkees were at helping create and put over songs that were better than I originally noticed.

My only other conact with any of The Monkees, besides seeing them here and there around L.A. when I lived there, was going up against one of them in the early '90s for the role of a wealthy gay philanthropist in an independent movie. I figured I'd never get it because of my competition's Monkee fame, but I did get it, and then the film was hardly released and as far as I know isn't available anywhere.

I think that Monkee was Michael Nesbith, whose mother, I was told, (I think by him actually) was a secretary when she invented white out. Whoever he was, he was a totally unpretentious sweet man. We were kept waiting and brought back, as I remember it, so had time to either ignore each other and prepare or chat and get to know each other, which is what we did and was rare in my experience.

I got the idea from watching Micky Dolenz on CNN that he's a sweet unpretentious guy as well, and that all of The Monkees were. Which is what was so appealing to their audiences I'd guess. But it was Davy Jones who everyone agrees was the main reason the teenage girls swooned and screamed and watched the TV show that made these talented guys stars, first by controlling every move they made and then by letting them do their own music which proved to be more lasting then a lot of folks would have predicted at the time, including me.


Miles said...

Always sad to see someone go. Thoughtful quotes from the remaining Monkees over at Dangerous Minds:


My band in high school only covered (I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone, but we were doing it because of The Untouchables' version, so I was late to appreciate the Monkees too. They are deeper than they first appear. Anyone who can successfully perform a Gerry Goffin and Carole King tune is worthy of respect. Pleasant Valley Sunday was written by that inimitable duo, and if I remember correctly, the tune was a commentary on the kind of suburban living that Goffin and King witnessed while living in West Orange, NJ.

Lally said...

Thanks for the link and the clarification Miles. It's amazing what memory will do and mis-do. I'm pretty sure now after thinking about it and seeing their photos on that link that it was Peter Tork I was up against for that flick and found so nice. And he probably told me about Nesbith's mother. And you're right about King and Goffin reacting to early '60s West Orange (I assume on the hill) and after I had moved on from South Orange where Bert Schineider still lived and helped create The Monkees.

Lally said...

PS: I don't dig the way the new comments format looks on this blog. Can't do anything about it I guess. Why do corporations always change things once you get used to them and like them? Because they know their regular customers will accept it pretty much and it might attract new customers etc. I know. But still. If it ain't broke don't fix it. Work on the broken stuff instead. Like why I'm not able to block an individual from commenting on my own blog without blocking everyone.

-K- said...

All day yesterday I was surprised both here at work and from the news reports as to how his death has really touched so many people.

Although he didn't stay in the spotlight for too long, I hope he realized the positive impact he had on people.

And who could ask for more than this?

-K- said...

Oh, and like you, I really do not care for the new verification process. Two, really hard-to-read words (except they're not always real words, just gibberish) that float at odd angles to each other or even lay on top of each other.

The "words" I'm looking at now for this post are both *eight* letters in length. Overkill, much?

And I'm sure you're not the only one plagued by trolls; they seem much more of a blight to the blogging experience, which I continue to enjoy.

Anonymous said...

I was driving in my car listening to sirius radio the 60's station, and they were treating DJ's death like it was Lennon or Kobain, which I intially thought was over the top...."Where were you when you heard DJ had died" etc...but I ended up believing. We are boomers and yes, his passing is a milestone.


Lally said...

You boomers. I, actually, am from the pre-boomer generation, having been born during "the war" (as we used to refer to it and I still do) not after, which makes me a...hmmm...

JIm said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Robert G. Zuckerman said...

The fact that Jim would spam this memorial, non political post is akin to a untrained animal, such as a feral cat, dog, swine hog or any untrained animal urinating or defecating wherever it will, regardless of others. There is zero respect exercised on his part and therefore, he deserves zero respect, and unless and until he mans up, he will never have my respect.