Earlier in the day as he walked through an Atlanta airport, Davy Jones was stopped by a handful of fans, including an elderly woman.
“You’re Davy,” the elderly woman shrieked. “Can I have your autograph for my granddaughter?”
Speaking by phone, Jones recalled the incident with amazement: “That’s sort of rare, isn’t it? If it was some huge star like, oh, Mick Jagger, I don’t think she’d be as free to go up to him and ask for an autograph.”
Indeed, Monkeemania continues. Even now – 21 years after the cancellation of the Monkees’ whirlwind TV show and four years after the group’s MTV exposure resuscitated its career – the four, er, three one-time moptop clones can still stir a crowd.
During their current American tour, the Monkees’ follow-up to an enormously popular reunion tour in 1986, they provide audiences with cheerful hits like “I’m a Believer” and “Daydream Believer.”
Yet there’s something wrong with the Monkees’ business. Or, as Jones puts it, “It seems like we’ll soon be hanging up our Monkee suits again.”
Jones and Peter Tork are upset that fellow Monkee Micky Dolenz insisted on a management change for the group. When the pair refused, Dolenz opted to end the tour later this month (September).
As a result, Jones is fuming. He had declined an offer to perform Gene Kelly’s role in a British production of “Singin’ in the Rain” in order to tour this year. (Jones, at age 15, had earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in “Oliver!”.)
During the interview, Jones launched into a rambling five-minute explanation of the situation.
“Peter and I were thinking we were going to be touring a little longer so we put everything else aside,” Jones said. “I’m disappointed in Micky.
“This is the last tour we’ve got in mind for the next 10 years, I’m sure.”
Hey, isn’t this the group that’s too busy singing to put anybody down?
Still, Jones insists that he puts on a happy face in concert.
“Here I am out in America touring for the fans, enjoying what I’m doing and giving my all. This is what we do when we’re on stage so we don’t take the private thing into the auditorium.”
The 44-year-old Jones also enjoys the benefits of being a Monkee now more than he did during the hectic days of the late ’60s.
“I have time to stop and smell the roses,” he said.
Discussing the Monkees’ reputation, Jones doesn’t hesitate to use the description of bubble gum music.
“That’s what it was,” he said. “Bubblegum was happening then. Listen to the soundtrack of `Good Morning, Vietnam,’ there are a few bubble gum songs on there. They were even enjoyed by the troops. Bubble gum? It doesn’t bother me. That’s what we were, thank you very much.”
And all the fuss about the Monkees not playing their own instruments?
“It bothered me at first because all I wanted to do was fight,” the people criticizing the band, Jones said. “Then I thought, `It’s true. We go down into the studio and cut an album without playing instruments because we don’t have time.'”
The Monkees’ current tour began in Japan, where Monkeemania thrives.
“The Monkees were very big in Japan 20 years ago,” Jones said. “In fact in the early ’80s, they put `Daydream Believer’ behind a Kodak commercial and that sparked interest in us again.”
Mike Nesmith, the Monkee who opted not to join the group for any reunion tour, did participate in a ceremony honoring the Monkees with a star on Hollywood Boulevard a few weeks ago.
“In the newspapers and magazines, it’s always `Mike Nesmith doesn’t want to be one of the Monkees anymore.’ But he is one of the Monkees,” Jones said. “He’s just not touring with us, you know. We never went out to find a fourth Monkee.”
During the Monkees’ reunion hoopla of 1986, Jones wrote his autobiography, “They Made a Monkee Out of Me.” Although it is filled with wonderful pictures, the book’s text is considered as lightweight as the group’s TV show.
Still, “They Made a Monkee Out of Me” includes one particular bit of trivia that needs further elaboration – one that mentions Jimi Hendrix as an opening act for the Monkees in the late ’60s. Hendrix performed a few shows with the Monkees and the audience was less than kind.
“I thought, `Man, this guy is weird.’ Very loud, very weird. I didn’t understand what he was singing about or playing,” Jones said. “I thought he was quite mad and far out.”
Less difficult to understand, according to Jones, is the Monkees’ revival in the mid- to late-’80s.
“I said to the boys many times a few years ago, `If the four of us would walk down the street and stand on the corner, don’t you think people are going to freak out?'”