Tuesday, March 13, 2012

They Made a Monkees (Fan) Out of Me

On Wednesday, February 29th, I landed in Orlando ready for a three day work conference. Heading into the terminal to collect my luggage, I switched my phone out of Airplane Mode and was greeted by texts, tweets, and messages informing me that my childhood crush, Davy Jones, had died. Growing up in the 1980’s, some girls loved Joey McIntyre. Others hung posters on their bedroom walls of Scott Baio. Even more pre-teen girls debated which of “The Corey’s”, Corey Haim or Corey Feldman, was the cutest (personally, I was a Corey Haim fan.)

But for me, at the tender age of seven, my first celebrity crush was forty-two year old Davy Jones. I grew up with parents who had strict rules about what was appropriate TV viewing. Soap operas were out of the question. Married With Children? Not a chance. But anything on the “Nick at Nite” channel? You bet. I loved getting lost in the black-and-white worlds of The Donna Reed Show, Mister Ed, and The Patty Duke Show. But my favorite late night program, and one I never missed, was The Monkees. Sure it was campy and cheesy and over the top. But it was also harmless fun with catchy tunes as its soundtrack. The star of both the show and the band was a cute, British lad with a bowl cut named Davy Jones. With his deep brown eyes, pouty lips and British accent, he had me at “Cheerio!”
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Then in the summer of 1987, after faithfully watching every episode of The Monkees and committing his cute face to memory, I asked my mom for the concert ticket that every American girl wanted. A chance to see The New Kids on the Block and Tiffany's Hangin’ Tough tour? Blimey! This wee diva wanted nothing more than to see her true love Davy Jones and the rest of The Monkees on their Here We Come Again tour. So, off my mom and I went to the fabulous Fox Theatre in midtown St. Louis. In true 80’s fashion, Weird Al Yankovic opened the show with such memorable hits as “Living With a Hernia” and “Addicted to the Spuds.” [Like, seriously?]
The Monkees with Weird Al, on tour in 1987
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But then it was time. The lights dimmed. The band took the stage. And The Monkees (minus Michael Nesmith) started to play! At least, everyone except me seemed to think it was The Monkees. Where was the adorable, teen aged Davy Jones of the TV show? Where was the young, youthful, shaggy haired boy I daydreamed about? I stood there, one seven year old among a sea of soccer moms reliving their youth, shocked to see that my Davy Jones, the one on my Zenith TV screen every night had aged. Considerably! I was shocked and a little saddened. No one ever mentioned to me that I had been watching re-runs from twenty years before! But then, suddenly, it didn’t matter. I became lost in the lyrics that I knew by heart, the catchy melodies, and the (slightly older) band members that were The Monkees. To my seven year old self, I was in heaven.
Hearing of Davy Jones passing struck me particularly hard. He was as much a part of my past as he is my present, as much a part of my youth as he is my adulthood. Prior to its cancellation, I was looking forward to attending The Monkees reunion tour in 2011. And there’s not a jukebox that passes my radar that doesn’t get a healthy dose of Last Train to Clarksville played through its speakers. Through moves out of my childhood home and across state lines, I’ve faithfully carried with me a well worn copy of They Made a Monkee Out of Me, the collection of interviews between Davy Jones and Alan Green, first published in 1987. I was hoping to carry it with me when I attended the 2011 reunion tour in hopes of meeting my childhood crush and getting his autograph. But that was not meant to be. Instead, I’ll carry with me the memories of my first crush, my first concert, and the Monkee who made me a fan of it all, Davy Jones.
(1945 – 2012)

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