Monkee’s star Davy Jones, the ‘60s heartthrob and lead singer of The Monkees, died on Wednesday, February 29 at a ranch near his Indiantown, Florida home. He was 66. It was reported by various online outlets that he felt ill while visiting his horses at the ranch and was having trouble breathing. A ranch hand called paramedics who rushed Jones to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The Monkees were considered one of the first “boy bands.” The group was created for an NBC sitcom in the late 1960s about a group of guys trying to make it into the music business. The group recorded nine albums and was a regular on the Billboard Top 100. The TV show only aired for two seasons, but the group continued to produce music.
Most people will remember Jones as the smallest of the four-member band which included Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork, and Mike Nesmith. Jones’ size prompted his father to encourage him to pursue horse racing and a career as a jockey. In 1961 Jones began an apprenticeship in his hometown of Manchester, England under trainer Basil Foster. However, his career as a jockey only lasted a few months and ended when an agent cast him in a production of Oliver! He was soon cast in The Monkees and his acting career took off.
In 1994 Jones was in Louisville to perform in the Broadway Series’ production of Grease! While in town, he visited Churchill Downs where he met Deborah Keene, an exercise rider. Keene arranged for Jones to work a horse for trainer Burk Kessinger. Louisville’s Courier-Journal printed a story about the incidence in 1994. Click here to read Jennie Rees’ original article.
After his acting career died down Jones eventually got back to the horses, becoming an owner and taking out an amateur riding license. He won the Ontario Amateur Riders' Handicap at Lingfield in 1996.
Jones is survived by his wife, Jessica, and four children.
Photo: The Monkees