What a cheeky Monkee! In one of his last interviews, Davy Jones revealed he was besotted by a wife half his age and still feuding with his former bandmates
Last updated at 2:44 PM on 2nd March 2012
The death of Davy Jones earlier this week from a heart attack was as unexpected as it was tragic.
Tributes poured in for the lead singer of Sixties’ pop group The Monkees and fans reminisced about the impact the band had on their childhoods.
The ebullience and youthfulness that characterised his performances in the band were just as present in real life. I had the pleasure of interviewing Davy last year during rehearsals for the band’s UK reunion tour.
Daydream Believer: Davy Jones
and third wife Jessie Pacheco
The first thing that struck me was his seemingly inexhaustible energy. An actor from the age of 11, Davy was the consummate showman. While his fellow Monkees Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork cut more sedate figures, Davy’s conversation was a carousel of self-analysis, anecdotes and self-mocking.
‘I’m so old,’ joked the 66-year-old three-times-married father of four grown-up daughters. ‘This woman came up to me after a performance and said: “I want to give you super sex.” And I said: “In that case, I’ll take the soup.” ’
In truth, though, he looked far younger and seemed delighted to be singing once more with the band. As it turned out, the tour ended prematurely amid rumours of squabbling, but that was always the way.
The Monkees’ UK tour of 1997 was the last to feature all four members — Davy, Micky, Pete and the elusive Mike Nesmith. A subsequent tour in 2002 (minus Nesmith) dissolved abruptly. Davy announced in 2004 that he would never work with Micky and Pete again.
Final outing: The Monkees' UK tour of 1997 was the last to feature all four members
‘But that’s all water under the bridge,’ said Davy last year. ‘What happened in 2002 was that we were all tired and when we’re tired, we start arguing. As for Mike, I don’t blame him for not touring. When I started out in The Monkees, I was like: “Let’s have fun and then I can go home, smoke a joint and drink a beer.”
‘Mike was busy writing the B-sides to the singles. Of course, the B-side makes as much money as the A-side and so while my first cheque for record royalties in 1967 was $240,000, his must have been about $5 million. No wonder he doesn’t show up for these reunions. I wouldn’t either!’
When Manchester-born Davy signed up for The Monkees in 1966, he had little idea of the fame it would bring. Answering an ad in the Hollywood Reporter for ‘Four Insane Boys: 17-21’, Davy was one of 400 hopefuls at the auditions. According to legend, serial killer Charles Manson was there, too.
Once the quartet was found, producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider set about creating a TV series about an upcoming rock ’n’ roll band who lived together in a beach house in Malibu and got up to all kinds of madcap antics.
The zaniness of the show — they would don capes and lay prostrate on rail tracks for no discernible reason — combined with the band’s instantly recognisable hits (Daydream Believer, Last Train To Clarksville and the Neil Diamond penned I’m A Believer) turned the twenty-somethings into world stars.
When Davy Jones first appeared on TV in The Monkees, most Americans mistook his Manchester accent for The Beatles’ Liverpudlian
The band sold 100 million records worldwide and toured as Jimi Hendrix’s support act. But critics sniffed that they were a knock-off version of The Beatles (they were labelled the Prefab Four). They had plenty of laughs, as well as a few tiffs (‘Mike was a sophisticated person and learned a new word every day,’ said Davy. ‘So we’d look it up in the dictionary and start using it on him just to p*** him off’), and encountered all the attendant pleasures of fame.
‘There were groupies, but not that many,’ said Davy, the band’s heart-throb. ‘Our fans were mostly aged between nine and 14. And even if there were women, we were so guarded by security that we couldn’t do anything about it. The pop star David Cassidy was picked up so many times he started to grow handles. But I wasn’t promiscuous . . . not that my wife believes me.’
He was referring to Jessica Pacheco, his third wife. During our interview, he raved about the 34-year-old Cuban American actress and dancer he met during a show in Florida in 2006.
‘When I saw her, I thought: “Wow, she’s hot!” But she was 28,’ said Davy. ‘Then she looked me up on the computer and went: “Oh my God, he’s 60!” I liked her, but nothing happened. So I bought her a dress and when she put it on, it fitted perfectly.
‘Her family came to the show and she invited me to have dinner with them afterwards. They were probably thinking: “What’s this old guy doing here” I’m older than her parents, for goodness sake! But after six weeks, we finally got together. We’ve been together ever since.’ Davy’s first marriage to Linda Haines ended in 1975 after producing two daughters, Talia, 43, and Sarah, 40, while his second to backing singer Anita Pollinger ended in 1996 — they also had two daughters, Jessica, 30, and Annabel, 23. With his third wife being younger than two of his daughters, Davy admitted the age difference did cause problems.
‘It’s like: “What’s Dad going to get next — a Ferrari” ’ he said. ‘But when two people are attracted to each other there’s nothing you can do. My eldest daughter said: “Dad, whatever makes you happy is what we want for you and everything else is by the by.” ’
Age-gap: Davy and Jessica's wedding took place on August 30th, 2009, in Miami
The Monkees pictured in 1967 from left to right Peter Tork, Mike Nesmith, Davy Jones and Mickey Dolenz
However, Davy did admit the couple had a challenging relationship, but was quick to refute reports that had circulated in the U.S. tabloids that his wife had been physically abusive towards him.
‘Of course not,’ he said. ‘The arguments are all verbal, but we do know how to niggle each other. I get niggled by the fact she doesn’t pick up the paper in the morning or watch the six o’clock news, but then she gets annoyed when I stir my tea and leave the spoon on the counter. Not that I’m comparing my wives, but Jessica’s hugely talented — an amazing actress and dancer — and she’s got a psychology degree, which she probably needs with me.’
Growing up in a two-up, two-down house in Manchester, the youngest of four children, Davy didn’t have the most settled of upbringings. Close to his mother — ‘she was instrumental in giving me the softer side to my character’ — he promised that one day he would ‘take her away from all this’.
He looked to be on his way when, aged 11, he got his start in showbusiness with a role in Coronation Street as Ena Sharples’s grandson. When his mother died of emphysema when he was 14, Davy was devastated.
‘Mum was ill for many years and she had four children in ten years when she wasn’t physically fit. I’ve got three older sisters and my dad wanted a son, but it wasn’t in her best interests to have another baby. I felt guilty and I’ve had it said to me many a time by a wife or sister “You’ve never got over the death of your mother,” which I haven’t.
‘I was always that feisty little guy going “Are you talking to me” and picking fights. I suppose I felt an insecurity. It’s been difficult for me to sleep on my own — I need to feel an arm, that comfort, next to me.’
Shortly after his mother’s death, Davy
left home to train as an apprentice with jockey Basil Foster, but
returned to acting when Foster recommended him for the part of the
Artful Dodger in the West End production of Oliver! His father, a railway fitter, also encouraged his showbiz ambitions.
Heartthrob: Sixties star Davy had many admirers
‘He’d say to me: “Son, I don’t want you in overalls,” ’ said Davy. ‘I was always saying I wasn’t going to stay at home and be a plumber and that I was going to live in America.’
Davy got his wish when he played the Artful Dodger on Broadway and soon after was picked to join The Monkees. The band lasted just over four years, taking in highs (John Lennon compared their humour to the Marx Brothers and claimed he never missed an episode) and lows. Their feature film Head, co-written by Rafelson, Schneider and a then unknown Jack Nicholson — who all went on to make the movie Easy Rider — was so poorly received at the box office that Davy was convinced it was ‘a self-destructing thing. Rafelson and Schneider made The Monkees and they were going to blow them up’.
The band started to dissolve in 1969 when Tork quit. Then Nesmith paid 100,000 to be released from his contract a year later. Shortly afterwards, Davy’s marriage to Linda ended — a victim of the pressures of showbiz. ‘It wasn’t that my marriage had ended; it was that I had failed,’ said Davy.
‘I’d never imagined not being married for ever. That was the plan and the plan didn’t work out. I was never promiscuous and I didn’t have a bevy of girlfriends, but after the divorce I went a bit crazy and had a couple of affairs. It was anger about the divorce and feeling a failure, a sense of abandonment.’
He was wed to second wife Anita for 15 years. Davy always felt regret over the failure of his two marriages.
‘They didn’t work because I was looking for something and wanting to go somewhere,’ he said. ‘I just didn’t know where it was I wanted to go. When you’re an entertainer and become successful, you suddenly become better looking, more articulate, even taller in some cases,’ he laughed, referring to his diminutive height. ‘But it’s just not true and it takes a while to understand that.’
Davy continued to tour, with or without the other Monkees, and appeared on stage and screen — as Fagin in Oliver! plus cameo roles in The Brady Bunch Movie and SpongeBob SquarePants.
He had also written a musical of which he was extremely proud. ‘It’s set just before the war and I know it’ll be a huge hit,’ he said.
Though there were many tributes in the aftermath of his death, one of the most moving came from fellow band member Peter Tork, who said: ‘What is the saddest thing in the world is that not everyone was able to see the range and depth of his heart. He was about as heartfelt a man as anyone I have ever met.’
Indeed, only last month it emerged that Davy was paying the care home fees of his former mentor, 85-year-old Basil Foster.
‘He was like a second father to me and I owed him,’ said Davy. ‘Without him, I might not be doing what I’m doing today.’
By the end of our interview, Davy was still fizzing with energy, breaking into song and apologising for his jokes — ‘but the audiences love them, even though they’re lousy.
‘I love making people laugh and making them happy and the most comforting place for me to be is on stage. It’s what I wanted to do when I was a little boy and I still get to do it. I’m on all the time. I just love to entertain.’
He certainly did entertain us.