Davy Jones, 1945 - 2012

The Daily

Do watch that through to the end.

By now, you'll have heard the news: "Davy Jones of the Monkees has died of an apparent heart attack at age 66," reports Andy Greene for Rolling Stone. "Jones was born in Manchester, England and started acting as a child, though he got his big break in 1965 when he joined The Monkees. The group had a hugely successful television series, and a slew of hit songs in the late 1960s. At their peak in 1967 they sold more records than the Beatles."

The Monkees followed the series, of course, with Head (1968), "arguably the most authentically psychedelic film made in 1960s Hollywood," as Chuck Stephens writes in an essay for Criterion, still one of the best pieces on the film yet written: "Head seemed at first glance to have been dreamt up by and made expressly for fun-loving dopers, a live-action Duck Amuck filled with more 'far out!' narrative interruptions and sudden reveals of crews shooting movies within movies than Contempt and Medium Cool combined. But there was much more at stake in the movie than a giddy mind fuck for the chemically altered. What [director Bob] Rafelson and crew were after was a freewheeling deconstruction of the entire Monkees machine: an at once furious and playful assault on the manufacture and ongoing corporate manipulations that had increasingly left the band members themselves feeling like overdubs without a choice, images unable to rejoice…. Head was everything a surrealist 'irrational enlargement' of the already endlessly reflexive Monkees show and its echt McLuhan-era conflation of genre hopping and channel flippancy should have been."

Coudal Partners remind us that "Sound Opinions did a great Monkees episode last year." True.

Update, 3/1: "It's not an overstatement to say that, were it not been for the success of the Pre-Fab Four, Jack Nicholson… might never have made the leap from underemployed character actor and part-time scriptwriter (he helped write Head) to international superstar and living legend," suggests Joe Leydon. "And Rafelson and [Burt] Schneider almost certainly never would have had the muscle to play major roles in launching the New Hollywood era of envelope-pushing and enduringly influential American movies."

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