Davy Jones dies (updated)

Antenna TV, MeTV, and MeToo to pay tribute to The Monkees‘ frontman this weekend

One of the biggest pop icons in the 1960’s and 1970’s passed away on Wednesday. Monkees lead signer Davy Jones suffered a fatal heart attack and was admitted to a hospital in Stuart, Fla. Wednesday morning, where he died. He was 66. Jones was in the middle of a solo tour, having performed last week in Oklahoma.

The Monkees consisted of the British born-Jones, Peter Tork, Mickey Dolenz, and Michael Nesmith, and were formed by producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider basically for their upcoming NBC TV series, inspired in part by The Beatles’ hit film A Hard Day’s Night.

The Monkees debuted on September 12, 1966. A marginal hit at best, the series was very successful in drawing younger viewers. Despite this, NBC canceled The Monkees in March 1968 after only two seasons. Despite the short network run, Monkees repeats were a popular Saturday morning offering on CBS and ABC, and in off-network syndication beginning in 1975, despite only a total of 58 episodes. The group’s popularity surged again in the 1980’s when MTV began airing reruns of the series.

The Monkees stunned the television world in 1967 by winning an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series. Director James Frawley also won an award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy.

After the series ended in 1968, Jones and the rest of the group continued to record, but Tork and Nesmith both left by1970. Jones would later make a rather memorable appearance on The Brady Bunch, where he took Marcia Brady to the prom. Other TV appearances Jones made include Boy Meets World and My Two Dads.

The Monkees did appear as themselves in the 1968 anti-establishment film Head. Despite the movie being a critical and commercial failure, Head became a cult classic. The movie was featured on CBS’ late night movie showcase in 1974 and 1975, and has aired countless times on cable TV and released on home video (locally, Head aired in an overnight weekend time slot on WMEU-TV – then known as MeToo – in October 2009.) Despite the lack of a plot or any consensus, Head did have a memorable dance scene featuring Davy Jones and Toni Basil, who would later record the #1 hit single Mickey in 1982.

Discography-wise, The Monkees regularly topped the album charts in the late 1960’s. Their first album (The Monkees) spent thirteen weeks at #1 in 1966, followed by their second album (More of the Monkees), which spent eighteen weeks at #1 – giving them 31 consecutive weeks at the top of Billboard’s Album chart. Their next two albums also hit #1. In terms of singles, The Monkees had ten Top 40 hits (not counting 1986’s That Was Then, This Is Now since the record featured only Tork and Dolenz) and three #1 singles on the Hot 100 – including I’m A Believer, which was the top single of 1967 (seven weeks at #1.)

The Monkees also spawned an unrelated new version of the series which lasted just three months in 1987. None of the original cast members or producers were involved in the first-run syndicated effort.

Tributes planned

This weekend, both Chicago-based digital classic TV subchannel networks – Tribune Broadcasting’s Antenna TV and Weigel’s MeTV – as well as local classic TV channel MeToo, are planning to air tributes to the late Davy Jones featuring his television and film work:

– On Saturday, Antenna TV (seen locally on WGN-TV channel 9.2; Comcast channel 353; RCN channel 29; and WOW channel 197) will pay tribute to Jones and The Monkees this Saturday with Head airing at Noon, followed by all 58 episodes of The Monkees in an all-weekend marathon. It concludes Sunday evening with an encore airing of Head at 9 p.m.

– MeTV plans to air a Davy Jones Tribute this Sunday from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm featuring his scene-stealing appearance in The Brady Bunch episode Getting Davy Jones, followed by the two episodes of Love, American Style he starred in – Love and the Elopement and Love and The Model Apartment.

– Locally, MeToo (now found on WCIU-DT 26.4; Comcast channel 358; RCN channel 22; WOW channel 171; and AT&T U-Verse channel 48), which holds the local rights to The Monkees, also plans to air a Davy Jones tribute this Friday night with eight back-to-back episodes of the sitcom from 7 pm to 11 pm, with all of the episodes plots revolving around Jones. MeToo also plans to air the Getting Davy Jones episode of The Brady Bunch episode Saturday night at 10:30 p.m., followed by two more Monkees episodes at 11 p.m.  MeToo however, does not plan to air Head.

Davy Jones is survived by his wife Jessica, and four daughters from previous marriages.

The Monkees’ television series is distributed by Sony Pictures Television.

(Updated March 1 to include MeTV and MeToo information.)