Davy Jones, the lead singer of the Monkees, died this morning in a Florida hospital of heart failure, TMZ reports. He was 66. At least two generations will mourn the passing of the adorable, Manchester, England-born singer, who joined the made-for-TV group in 1965. The Monkees originally aired on NBC from 1966-1968, but many of us got hooked on it when MTV picked up the series in the ’80s. We perfected our monkey walk in the playground and hummed along to the same sugary pop songs our parents listened to as teens.
Jones, Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork and Mickey Dolenz all auditioned for the group, the brainchild of TV execs who wanted to cash in on the popularity of the Beatles’ movie, Hard Days Night. And though they eventually took creative control of their music, the quartet endured endless criticism for their manufactured origins. Still, “Daydream Believer,” “Last Train to Clarksville” and “I’m a Believer” were genuine #1 hits. And we’re pretty sure that success directly lead to the copycats of the modern era, from the Spice Girls to O-Town to — why not? — American Idol.
Jones started off as an actor, appearing on the British soap Coronation Street at age 11, and also trained to be a jockey. In 1964 he was a member of the Broadway cast of Oliver!, which visited the Ed Sullivan Show the same day the Beatles made their debut on it. After The Monkees, he continued to act in TV guest spots.
Jones is survived by his third wife, Jessica Pacheco, and four daughters from previous marriages.