Friday, 2 March 2012

Davy Jones of the Monkees RIP

Is it a confession to own up to liking the Monkees ?  One might get the impression that they are a guilty pleasure - to be liked 'ironically'

I was sad to hear of the death of Davy Jones.  I have seen the Monkees twice - once at the Royal Albert Hall in the late 1980's and once in 1997 in Bournemouth - with all four Monkees on tour for the first time since 1968.
Both were great shows.

It saddens me that even in death, the media is still misreporting the Monkees.  I suppose as a fan, I know a lot about them, but even the much derided wikipedia has been more factual than some of the write up of their history.

The Monkees were essentially 4 actors who became a band. That is rather strange - as if Hugh Laurie in House  became a real Doctor.  Or David Jason became a real police detective. 

All four members had some musical background - Mike Nesmith as a folk singer, Mickey Dolenz  as a guitarist and singer in a  band, Peter Tork was a skilled multi-instrumentalist and friends with people like Stephen Stills, Davy Jones could draw on the great british musical hall/west end show tradition.

Not only did they all play well enough to perform their own concerts, all four Monkees became song writers - think about that - how many proper bands have even one song writer - let alone four.

That the music of the Monkees is still played and recognised 45 years on - is testament to how good it was.  Long after more hipper respected acts have faded or been forgotten, the Monkees were still entertaining people.

Admittedly, some of their most popular songs were written by others with the Monkees just adding vocals - but the same is true for really revered bands like the Beach Boys and The Mamas and Papas  - and goodness knows how many boy and girl bands since the 60's.    What I would say is that some of the Monkees most interesting and rewarding music was written and performed by themselves.  The albums Head and Justus in particular standout as strong albums any band would be proud of.

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