A sad day for Marcia Brady and a certain generation of teen-idol worshippers: Davy Jones, the breakout heartthrob of the Beatles-inspired, made-for-TV band the Monkees, died today in a Florda hospital after suffering a heart attack. He was 66.
Jones sang lead vocal on some of the group's biggest hits, including "Daydream Believer," "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" and "Valerie."
Florida's Martin County Sheriff's Department reported that Jones complained Wednesday morning of feeling unwell and of having trouble breathing. The entertainer was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead, officials said. Foul play is not suspected.
"I am in a state of shock," bandmate Micky Dolenz said in a statement to E! News. "Davy and I grew up together and shared in the unique success of what became the Monkees phenomena. The time we worked together and had together is something I'll never forget. He was the brother I never had and this leaves a gigantic hole in my heart. The memories have and will last a lifetime. My condolences go out to his family."
The Monkees, the TV show, ran for two crazy seasons, from 1966-68.
Dismissed as a shamelessly engineered rip of the Beatles—Jones and his fellow Monkees, Dolenz, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork, were cast by Hollywood producers—the show would lay the groundwork for the music-video revolution, and the band would become a real band. No less than Jimi Hendrix once served as their opening act.
Jones, the onetime apprentice jockey, stood out as the shortest, youngest and most Beatle-like Monkee: Unlike the Liverpool-spawned Fab Four, the Monkees was comprised of Americans, save the English-born Jones.
Jones was also perhaps the happiest Monkee, not minding that he was hired to play a rock star, and not be a rock star.
"Eventually Peter and Mike, especially, wanted to write, play and record," Jones said in an interview last month. "…I just wanted to be in the show, fall in love twice in each episode and kiss the girls."
Even after the show was canceled, Jones continued to tour and record with the Monkees alongside Dolenz, Tork and sometimes Nesmith, all of whom survive Jones.
"The Monkees are like the Mafia," Jones joked to a newspaper in 1998. "You're in for life. Nobody gets out."
Jones, like Dolenz, was a former child actor. As a teenager, he starred as the Artful Dodger on the London stage, and later Broadway, in Oliver! Promoting the musical on TV, Jones appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show the same night as the Beatles' historic American coming-out party.
While critics were prone to make unfavorable comparisons between the Monkees and the Beatles, Jones said the Beatles themselves were fans of their pre-fab counterparts.
Jones released a handful of solo albums, both during and after The Monkees run.
The kind of stir the button-cute Brit could create was best captured in the iconic episode of The Brady Bunch "Getting Davy Jones."
In the 1971 story, Marcia's teenage life is made complete when Jones, playing himself, turns up at the Brady house with a gift-wrapped album, a prom invite—and a willingness to be kissed not once, but twice by his fan-club president.
Jones reprised the role, in a way, with a cameo in 1995's The Brady Bunch Movie. The women he wooed were older, but the song he sang was the same: "Girl."