GLEEB> the monkee who sat down and cried
THE MONKEE WHO SAT DOWN AND CRIED
Photo Screen, March 1967
All his life, Davy Jones searched for something he thought he'd never find. His tears marked the day of his discovery!
A few weeks ago Monkee Davy Jones steped off the giant jetliner that had carried him and a hundred other passengers from Honolulu to Los Angeles.
Normally smiling, articulate and eagerly aware of the world around him, Davy, at this time, was neither smiling nor aware of anything but the sudden need to be by himself.
Spotting a corner of the huge reception lounge that was empty, he almost ran to one of the large leather chairs. Then, like a man who wanted to bury himself, he sat down and turned his head from the milling throng of noise and laughter. For the next five minutes, Davy quietly wept.
When it was over, he got up, claimed his baggage and went home.
It was a close friend of Davy's who told us of this incident. "But don't ask him to talk about it," cautioned the friend. "He won't. He'll clam up."
Davy is a well adjusted young Englishman of 20 years. Despite the fact that he is a tumoltuous smash as one fourth of the new hit TV show The Monkees, he is good-natured and remarkably tolerant. He is also amazingly knowledgeable for a boy who was unable to complete his high school education.
All things considered, why would Davy Jones, not virtually idolized by thousands of American girls, get off a plane after a week in Hawaii, find a lonely place in an airport and weep?
In spite of his friend's cautioning, we decided to ask him, and did so at a recent interview. And Davy was surprisingly candid with his answer.
"First," Davy began, "you've got to understand what I was and where I've come from. If you don't know that, the rest won't make any sense."
"I'm English. I was born in Manchester very late in 1946, Dec. 30th to be exact. When I was about 7 or 8 I found out a couple of things I didn't like. I was poor. And I wasn't going to get things as easily as other kids got them.
"I mean clothes, shoes, toys, good food and all that.
"I also found I was small. Other kids my age were growing straight up and looking down at me. For a girl, I guess that's not too bad, but for me, it was a disaster. As I grew older I tried exercises and other crazy things to make me taller. None of them worked, of course. Yet the older I got, the more unhappy I became. It wasn't bad enough that I was a peanut, but to add to it, I couldn't get enough to eat. It seemed that I was always hungry. It seemed we all were.
"I know I'm not the only young kid who was poor, but I didn't have anything and it didn't help at all to know that there were others just as poor. I felt that I was the only one -- that all the other guys had what they wanted, were growing tall, and were going to leave me behind like a small useless scrap of humanity no one would ever have any use for. I felt like a leftover, a reject.
"My mom used to try to tell me that I shouldn't let those things put me down and that good things come in small packages and that sort, but it didn't help me grow.
"My father worked hard on the railway as a track fitter -- it is back-breaking labor. He would come home weary to his bones. It was a hard life for my parents.
"But for all that hardship we were a close family. We'd fight amongst ourselves, but stand united against the world, you know? It wasn't all bad. There'd be good days and good luck once in awhile -- like the day Dad won a hundred pounds in the football pool. That was just about the grooviest thing that ever happened to us and we were hysterical with joy.
"Yet for all of it I just couldn't forget that I had nothing and that I was nobody.
"When I was twelve I started to think of things I could do. Two years later I saw a horserace and learned that small men were just what they wanted for jockeys. I had visions of being on the track, riding the winners to the cheers of the crowds and earning lots and lots of money.
"So I quit school and became an apprentice. The sacrifice involved more than quitting school, because down in my heart of hearts I'd always wanted to be on the stage and in school I'd try out for all the plays and musicals and got into a lot of them. But size made it impossible to have any real hopes of becoming a professional. So when I left school I left that dream, too.
"During my apprenticeship on the horses, I visited London. I found coffee houses where anybody could perform and did quite well singing and reciting on my time off. But it didn't pay.
"Then a friend of my stable owner heard about my coffee house appearances and suggested I try out for a new show they were auditioning in London, a musical called 'Oliver.'
"You could have knocked me over with a straw when they chose me to play The Artful Dodger in the show."
Davy's success was not something he had imagined. Critics were delighted with "this marvelously gifted young man" whose "talents are quite evident" and who "shows exceptional promise to become a star with his own light someday."
With "Oliver," Davy eliminated two of the things that had bugged him all his lfie. He had found a way to earn money -- and he vowed that he would never be hungry again -- and he was slowly beginning to see that he had a slim chance to find himself, a reason for being and the completely unexpected opportunity to "be somebody."
At 16, it was all too much for him to comprehend at once.
"I was like a drowning man who had grasped a twig and found it was a lifeboat," Davy recalls.
Then "Oliver" opened on Broadway.
"I fell in love with the United States of America," Davy confided. "I couldn't turn my head in any direction without being fascinated by a thousand things."
One of the "things" that fascinated Davy was the girls. And through them, he discovered something else he thought incredible. Girls like him!
"I lost my heart once a month," Davy said, "always a different type. You know, it may sound crazy, but I never met a girl who couldn't make me happy in some way -- and I don't think I ever will."
Thus the high life began for the low boy from Manchester.
Every chance he got he'd fly back to his home, groaning under the weight of gifts for everyone -- clothes, and "bags and bags and bags of food."
He saved other money, however, with a special goal in mind.
Then, quite unexpectedly, his mother died.
"I have never quite believed that she's gone," says Davy, "and I always think of her as being home in Manchester." (Whenever he speaks of his mother, especially when he is revealing what he feels is a minor family secret, Davy gives a quick look to the sky and says "Forgive me, Mom, I know you're listening.")
The goal Davy had been moving toward was to have enough money to buy his parents a home, "All paid for, a house no one could ever take away from them."
Last year, brimming with delight, he handed his dad the key and the deed.
The man looked at them for a moment, then regarded the small but handsome country home his son had just given him.
"It's a fine place, my boy, and from now on it will be home," said his dad. "And it's a fine thing for my son to do." He paused.
"But it breaks my heart your mother isn't here to walk into with me. She deserved it more. If you wouldn't mind, Davy, I'd like to spend my first night in this house by myself."
That night in his dark hotel room, Davy stared out at the lights of London. He stood watching for a long time and thought about his mother. After a while he realized he was crying. But not in hard greif for his mom.
His tears were for his father, whom he knew was sitting in loneliness that night, remembering a woman they both loved.
After "Oliver" closed in New York, Davy appeared in another musical, "Pickwick Papers." It closed after a few performances.
Then, at the suggestion of his agent, he came to Hollywood to consider a part in a new series with three Americans. The four would be known as The Monkees, in a weekly half-hour TV series.
Davy and the trio hit it off from the first. The viewers felt the same way about them. An album by the Monkees soared to hit status in a few weeks.
The fans flooded the group with letters. Davy's mail came in sacks daily. Thousands and thousands of his photos were sent out. Davy and The Monkees were a hit.
Girls of every size and description swarmed Columbia Studios for an in-person look at the quartet.
Davy doesn't exactly admit it, but where he once had to ask girls for dates, he now suffers from a virtual embarassment of females.
"It's awful," he smiled, "I can only date one at a time."
But for long weeks there was no time for dating; there was time for nothing but work. Finally the show's producers gave the group a ten-day vacation.
"I didn't know what to do with all those days," said Davy. "I actually felt lost. I wanted to get away, but I didn't know where."
Someone suggested Hawaii. For a reason he couldn't understand, Davy was delighted with the idea. He took off for Honolulu the next morning expecting to descend into a strange, exotic land where no one had ever heard of Davy Jones.
He was wrong.
A mob was at the airport to greet him. For ten days straight Davy was followed, honored and sought after. He was invited everywhere and appeared on radio and TV stations.
"It was the grooviest, most fantastic thing that ever happened to me," Davy said. "I couldn't believe it. The people there are the happiest, most generous, I've ever met."
When he left, there was another mob to see him off with "Aloha," the sad song of the islands, and a mountain of orchard leis.
Even on the plane the passengers milled about him in conversation and the interminable requests for autographs.
"For all that to happen to someone like me," said Davy, "was just too much."
By the time the plane taxied into International Airport, Davy couldn't hold it in any longer.
He left the plane quickly and buried himself in the lounge chair where for the second time in his adult life he wept.
"I suppose it was a silly thing to do," Davy said. "But all my life I had been trying to find myself, wondering where I belonged, wondering what I was and who I was. I remembered being hungry and small and desperate and fearful of the future. I giess I should have realized that was all gone when I made it in 'Oliver' or when I was chosen to work in The Monkees.
"But in Hawaii I walked down a strange street and strangers knew me and greeted me and smiled and shook my hand and welcomed me as a friend with a warmth and affection that I never knew exsisted.
"That's why I did it. That and one other thing. I had found myself. I had an identity. And though it may have seemed foolish to shed tears over it, I knew I could never get lost again."