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Interview: Retirement?

March 27, 2011 by  
Filed under davy

San Francisco Examiner, January 16, 1995

January 16, 1995


Jane Ganahl

Monday, Jan. 16, 1995

SO I’VE BEEN asked to have breakfast with Davy Jones, the ’60s idol
who set my teenage heart afire with his twinkling blue eyes, at the
Sheraton Palace Garden Court Restaurant, and the only thought that
races across my mind as he shakes my hand is, “Damn, I should have
worn my other shoes.”

You see, as any Monkees fan knows, Jones is diminutive. I mean, really
short — maybe 5-foot-5. In my highest heels, I am taller than he is.
Sigh. Lousy way to make a first impression on the fantasy recipient of
some of your earliest kisses, planted fervently on the TV screen
during the Monkees years.

But it’s of little consequence; he’s not here to flirt. Jones is now a
30-year veteran of stage and screen (mostly stage), in town for a
three-week stint as Vince Fontaine in “Grease!” and now making the
media rounds. He faces the chore cheerfully, asking to borrow the
photographer’s Leica to take some shots of his own, but wastes no time
in giving his dutiful spiel about the show.

” “Grease!’ is simply entertainment. We sell out everywhere we go. The
critics say it’s happy and warm. You can’t knock it, really, because
that’s what it’s all about — entertaining the public.”

A waitress comes around and I remind him I am supposed to be buying
him breakfast so I can write about the food at the Garden Court. Jones
frowns, and I can tell he’s not hungry. But he agreeably orders a very
English meal of black tea, poached eggs, potatoes and rye toast.

I myself am dazzled by the Garden Court’s weekday menu — with peach
crepes, brioche French toast and creamed crab and champagne omelet, it
looks more like a Sunday brunch offering. But I stick with an old
standard: eggs Benedict.

Jones’ tea and a silver pot of hot water, my coffee and two
fresh-squeezed orange juices arrive immediately. The menu says the
coffee is something called Caswell’s Heritage; I only know it’s
incredibly tasty, as is the juice. I want to linger over them for a
minute, but Jones wants to talk . . . and talk . . . and talk. His
favorite subjects are his favorite things: horses, his four daughters,
and life as an entertainer.

“I am not an actor by choice, I just fell into it because of early
exposure. I still would rather have been a jockey. I rode at Churchill
Downs a while back. I was thinking, “This could have been me.’ And
then I think, it is me. I’ve never had to have ambition because things
always came so easy to me.”

Indeed, Jones seems to have led something of a charmed life. On stage
at an early age, he earned a Tony nomination for his role as the
Artful Dodger in “Oliver,” then landed a role in the Monkees TV series
— Burbank’s answer to the Beatles — that catapulted him into instant
superstardom. He was so adorable as “Davy” that producers literally
made animated stars twinkle in his eyes during close-ups.

But that was ’66 through ’68 and now it’s ’95 and Jones turns 50 this
year. He’s still handsome — you can’t beat bone structure — but
decades of life on the road and two marital breakups have etched a bit
of character into his once-flawless skin.

And now, his twinkling eyes sport spectacles, lending him a more
bookish air. But he’s still got it. Everywhere he goes, fans still ask
for his autograph. “It’s really wonderful. I think it’s because the
Monkees brought so much happiness into people’s lives.”

The aftermath of the show was difficult, he says. “They basically used
us and cut us loose when the show was over,” he says. “No agents, no
referrals, nothing.”

Still, he says, he didn’t complain. “I needed a break, I’d been
working straight for about 10 years and I was only in my early 20s. I
didn’t think much about it at the time, I just sat out at my pool
smoking drugs and drinking beer. I probably should have gotten an
agent with William Morris or something but I always wanted to do it on
my own.”

In fact, here’s a news flash for all you Monkees fans: The clean-cut
lads we saw on TV were frequently stoned. “Well, we all used to smoke
grass.” Even before filming the episodes? “Oh yeah, sure.”

Stunned as I was by that dark revelation, I thought it best to taste
the food that had just been delivered. The eggs Benedict were a wonder
— perfectly poached, with Canadian ham that didn’t require a steak
knife to cut through it, and a Hollandaise sauce that was zesty but
light. I wanted to inquire about Jones’ eggs but he ignored them and
kept on talking, seemingly in the middle of a life crisis of sorts.

“At Christmas, I was thinking about my kids in England, looking at my
career, looking at the fact that I’ve worked my ass off for over a
year, thinking I’ve got a little stashed away. And I wondered, “How
much is enough?’ I realized I didn’t have a goddamn plan. I’ve never
had a plan, a real goal.”

So he has decided to quit “Grease!” after its run here ends Feb. 5 and
go back to England for a year. He has a 200-year-old horse farm there
but because he has split up with his wife, he plans to rent a place
nearby for frequent visits to his daughters, ages 13 and 6.

“I haven’t seen that much of the 6-year-old over the last couple
years. I talk to them on the phone every other day. They ask me, “When
are you coming home, daddy?’ ”

Jones also has two daughters from his first marriage, ages 26 and 23.
They live in the Santa Barbara area. “I am so proud of them. They are
so caring, such nice people, so beautiful.”

Jones has poked a couple of times at his eggs with a fork, but seems
disinterested in actually consuming them. He does sample some
breakfast potatoes — the same kind I have. Of all the components of
the meal, this one pleases me the least. The chunks of potato seem
spongy, like maybe they were nuked instead of fried. But the flavors
— peppers, onion and garlic — are tasty.

He’s having a hard time with this notion of giving up the Las Vegas
shows, concerts in Japan (where he has a sizable following), and
future movie roles (he just had one in the upcoming “Brady Bunch

“I am fighting my own feelings in a sense, that tell me I should quit.
I almost feel like I’ve had enough. But then I think I shouldn’t quit
now because everything is so lovely, and I don’t want to be a quitter.
But something has been missing for me. I need to go to England, to
take some responsibility for my kids.”

Jones says his 15-year marriage there broke up chiefly because he’s
always on the road. “My wife is at the time in her life where she’s
thinking, “Why am I waiting around for this guy?’ Because I’m gone all
the time, and when I come home, I’m mostly this guy out in the yard
with the horses, coming in at 6 for dinner. I’m always tired.”

Once he moves back to England, Jones plans to fine-tune a novel he’s
written, play with his daughters and rest up. That is, unless another
reunion beckons. Rhino Records, which bought the rights to all Monkees
albums and songs, wants to bring them together for yet another tour,
or maybe a movie. But what do the Prefab Four still have in common?

“The songs. We’ll always have the songs.”

01/16/95 11:43 PST

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