Gary James' Interview With Davy Jones of
The Monkees

In 1986, The Monkees (3 of the 4 anyway) embarked on a 20th anniversary tour of the US. It was one of the more celebrated tours of the year. We got our first look at The Monkees back in 1966 on their weekly TV show. Hit records and sell-out concerts soon followed. Monkee member Davy Jones has written his autobiography titled They Made A Monkee Out Of Me. Davy's book is the inside story of The Monkees.

Q - Why'd you write the book?

A - I read a whole bunch of bits and pieces over the years, obviously from the fan magazines and the rest of the stuff, and I just wanted to give a little more insight into what's happening in my personal life. I just wanted to put in my own two pence as we say in England.

Q - What do you feel is the biggest misconception people have about you?

A - People always expect you to be jumping out of a Rolls Royce and being in the papers for drunk and disorderly or sleeping around. I'm a family man with three kids, and I got a new addition coming in June (1988). I own property in a quiet little town of Pennsylvania. I've got an apartment in Hollywood. I own a place in Australia. I've got a farm in England where I breed horses. It's very difficult over the years when people say. 'Oh, you're making a comeback.' When you say comeback, it sounds like you've been somewhere. I've been so active.

Q - What's going on with The Monkees these days?

A - We're already talking about doing a Christmas album next year. We're talking about touring Australia in May. Mickey Dolenz is in a meeting as we speak, with a major motion picture company who want to know what our recording commitments are regarding the sound track to a new movie. We've come up with a title: "The Monkees Save The World". Mike is interested in joining us when we make a movie. Everything couldn't be better.

Q - Wasn't Screen Gems going to launch the New Monkees TV show?

A - During the summer, Screen Gems launched the New Monkees, which miserably failed I understand. I never saw it. No offense to the boys that did it. I think the show ran on cable and then it got cancelled. And then, they fired 8 or 12 people over at Columbia Pictures, names that had been there for a while. I mean, they put 20 million dollars in the 'New Monkees'.

Q - What's so disturbing about your book, is the amount of money you were cheated out of. Doesn't that still make you mad?

A - I'm not mad anymore because last year we made a lot of money. This year (1987) we made a lot of money. I was mad at Screen Gems, but I'm not mad at them anymore. I'll be mad at them again when I have the time to sue their asses. But I'm not mad at them until that particular time happens. I am glad I was able to put it down in the book, so people know. The thing is, the reader doesn't want to hear about bad times. They don't want to hear about my million dollars in the bank. They want to know I'm doing good, the fans do. My existence is oh, so very positive. I don't think I've got any negative things running through my life at this point and Screen Gems is certainly not going to be upsetting me.

Q - Wasn't there anyone around who could've offered you better business advice?

A - Out of the first year, we each made a million dollars each from those small percentages (1 1/4%) and from the salaries we made. In the second year, we made more. But the money was not invested wisely. I was underpaid from Screen Jems, but they still paid me a million dollars. It was when I got it back to where I was, that strangers who came into my life ripped me off. My Dad used to say "spend a third, and put a third in the bank. A third is going to taxes, a third is going to your savings, and a third you can spend." But I never did that. I let other people handle my money. Bad investments were supposedly made. I got ripped off. It took me most of the early 70s, from 1970 -1975 to pay off the taxes I owed on the money I made from The Monkees. And it wasn't until 1976, when I went out with Dolenz, Boyce, Jones and Hart that I was free and clear of any financial obligations.

Q - Do you see any money from Rhino Records re-issues?

A - Well you see, it's very tricky. Columbia licenses it to Arista. Arista Records does another licensing deal with Rhino Records. And then Arista will do another deal with say Silver Bullet Records. Now somewhere at the bottom of the contract it says something like in case they put it in a record club, or other avenues of exposure, the royalty rate will drop down. We were on 1 1/4% each. The first check I ever got was for $240,000. So that was 1 1/4% of the first album. That's 5% between us. Where did the other 95% go? How much was it? Who got it? That's what I would like to know. And so by the time it's gone from Columbia to Arista, Arista licenses it to Rhino, and then Rhino licenses it to Silver Bullet, I mean, my 1 1/4% looks like tea money, you know? Although The Monkees had 9 albums on the charts last year, re-issues...we made very little money from it.

Q - Gloria Slavers, one-time editor of 16 Magazine ...

A - I never slept with her. Most of the stars did to get on the front, but I didn't.

Q - She said "When The Monkees came along, 80% of the early fan mail was for Davy Jones." Was that true?

A - I can't begin to say how many fan letters came in back then. In the office, the mail that came in was always 10 to 1 for me. Over the last couple of years I have gotten an average of 2,000 letters a week from fans.

Q - What brings you to Pennsylvania?

A - It's horse country. I am about to set up a racing establishment. Around the property I have here, I'm about to put an all weather race track. I'm about to build stables. I'm about to ship over a couple of my thoroughbreds from England. I'm about to challenge for the Maryland Cup in the next couple of years, as an owner, a trainer, and a rider. This is where I feel I would like to leave a mark. This is why I hold a jockey's license. The show business is another part of my life. My family is a part of my life and everything is all a mixture of enjoyment. I'm 42 years old the end of this month (December) and I'm going to try and cram as much in to it as I can.

Q - You were on the Ed Sullivan Show the same night The Beatles made their American debut. What was that like?

A - It was interesting. During 'Oliver' we had occasion to go on the show. I was standing in the elevator and Ringo Starr got in. He's obviously a nice chap and he's got his qualities, but he was an ugly bugger, you know. He had this massive nose. Pop singers were sort of like Dave Clark and Paul .McCartney. I always tell a joke about Ringo. I said I met him in the elevator, he had a bad cold at the time, and he was just about to blow his nose and I said, "No, let me hold the handkerchief. I'm closer than you are." He had to make two turns around the corner it seemed to me. And then I saw what happened on the show, and I couldn't believe it. And that's when it first struck me. Within 2-3 weeks, I was signed to Colpix Records and I was in the studio making some demos.

Q - Did The Monkees have a say in the songs they would record?

A - We very often did have a say, and we very often did not have a say. For example we turned down Neil Sedaka's "Love Will Keep Us Together" and the song "Knock Three Times On The Ceiling If You Want Me". I said "I'm not singing that. You must be joking."

Q - After The Monkees TV show was cancelled, couldn't The Monkees have continued in other areas, or were you burned out?

A - We were burned out with each other. The Monkees were never cancelled for a start. NBC wanted to do a third year. We said what we wanted to do is a sort of 'Laugh In' thing, and this is before 'Laugh In' came on. We wanted to interview people on the show, do variety, get the artists, the guests involved with us in our group. They wanted to keep the four guys together. We wanted to change the format. We wanted to present ourselves as individuals and as a group, and as an improvisational group working with other people.

Q - What do you remember about the show?

A - I remember the soundman moving electrician's cables and the electrician helping the prop man. And the prop man being in one of the scenes, and nobody from Actors Equity complaining. We all knew Mickey Dolenz and myself being the actors, and Peter and Mike being the musicians. We did end up to be 4 musicians and 4 actors. We knew how to cover for each other. We saved time by being there, ready to film. The Monkees episodes went out for $75,000. I mean that's all they cost. That was unheard of. And that was because of the co-operation and the excitement and because of the originality and the enthusiasm from all these different areas.

Q - I've read that in the 60s, if you were a "groupie", The Monkees were the easiest group to get next to. Just how true was that?

A - I wouldn't think it was true. I can honestly tell you that during The Monkees '67-'68 tour, I might've got laid twice, with people that sort of casually came by, and we were on the road for a long time. It was always the crew that got laid, not the guys. As far as groupies, I never saw any of them. There was no wild sex orgy at my house. In 1976, there were a lot of women in my life and in my bed, and I enjoyed it. It was something I missed out on, coming from England at 15 and getting into theatre. I mean, I don't think I had my first sex until I was 17 or 18. I lived a very quiet life and was very inactive in that particular department. In '76, it was as if I'd just found a new toy. I must say I used it as often as possible. Groupies to me, were people who followed you around. Familiar faces who were always there, asking for autographs. We have more of those now, but they're not sexual. I don't fancy any of it. I'm a married man. If I want sex at this particular point in my life, I go home for it.

© Gary James. All rights reserved.