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Vanessa Becknell

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Remembering Davy Jones

Posted: 02/29/2012 5:08 pm

I've always had an odd taste in music. Maybe not "odd" per se, but most definitely varied. I grew up in a house of music lovers -- my father loved everything from classical to country, my mother liked anything that reflected her Latin roots, my oldest brother still composes classical music as a recording artist, my other brother loved all things 50's and 60's and introduced me to Elvis and Buddy Holly, and my sister was the reigning pop queen in the house who exposed me to George Michael and The Culture Club. I took all of those genres with me when I moved on to harder rock. I can sing every lyric to a Monkees song just as easily as I can sing along to a Nine Inch Nails song -- so, I'm a bit of a musical chameleon to say the least!

I first saw The Monkees when most of us did on TV, and tuned in everyday to catch Peter, Mike, Micky and Davy's (sigh) hilarious adventures. Perhaps they were a kid's version of The Beatles, but it worked -- the boys went on to break away from their TV-kid-friendly constraints and become "real" musicians -- crafting their own work and establishing themselves as artists.

Even after the kid in me started to turn more towards darker stuff as I grew into an angst-ridden teen, I never turned my back on The Monkees -- I was never "too cool" or "too angry" to stop loving them.

When I was 15 years old I attended one of my first concerts ever -- my boyfriend's parents took us to see The Monkees (minus Mike Nesmith, who had quit the band officially) at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Virginia -- they were touring to promote the greatest hits album they released that year -- and whatever you want to say about longevity, it was a packed floor. The crowd filled most of the stadium seats as well -- a feat I can't say about other musical acts I've seen there who are considered more "popular" or "modern."

I still say -- to this day -- The Monkees put on one of the best concerts I've ever seen. The show was jam-packed with all their hits and the crowd was full of fans screaming for them. Looking back, as someone who goes to at least one live show a month, more if I can manage, I can see it objectively and realize just what it was that made that show so great -- something I didn't grasp when I was 15. This band LOVED their fans -- they loved them -- Peter, Micky and Davy (sigh) were so gracious, so thankful and happy to be together and be able to share their music with us; it's common now to see artists perform who feel they're "too big" to speak to the audience, or even acknowledge them, or whose audience banter just seems so forced. I've been to shows where the performers barely even look at you, let alone say two words to the crowd. I've even followed some bands when they performed in nearby cities and heard them say to the audience word for word what they said to the crowd the night before.

But The Monkees were pure fun and class. It was like we all just up and came to their house and were hanging out as old friends. During the show each of them was able to have solo time: Micky performed some of the songs he'd written since the band parted ways, and Peter shared fond memories of his close friend Jimi Hendrix and performed some of Hendrix's songs. But when Davy Jones came out on that stage to perform "Daydream Believer" and "Little Bit Me, Little Bit You," he completely, utterly brought the house down.

Davy Jones did something I've never seen another artist do -- as he was singing, he stepped out onto a ledge, and entered the stadium seating section; I've seen artists get down from the stage and get on the floor to sing with the crowd, but I've never seen one get up and physically interact with the people sitting on the sidelines. Not only did he get up there and sing -- he did those two songs while doing a lap around the stadium, and he shook Every. Single. Hand.

Every single one -- anyone that wanted to stop and get a hug from him, he gave it -- all while never missing a note. In one of the funniest moments of the night, he stopped in front of a mother and her daughter, who couldn't have been more than 12 or 13 -- and serenaded both of them as they SCREAMED like little girls, clawing at his shirt, crying in total joy. He stood there and held onto them as he sang and I thought they were both going to pass out.

That's the Davy Jones I've taken with me these 16 years since that show -- a complete and total gentleman. His grace, his "heartthrob-ness" was so absolute that it broke all age barriers -- it didn't matter how old he was, how old his audience was -- he was a beautiful man, inside and out. They don't make many artists like that anymore, and as a lifelong fan, I can't help but sit here and cry a little for the loss of him.

Davy -- you are a prince among men -- and your fans will always be grateful for that.

 

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