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How My First 'Love' from The Monkees Became My Friend

What I shared with Davy Jones.

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Writer Jan Tuckwood with Davey Jones of The Monkees side by side
Photographs Courtesy Tuckwood
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“You are my first love. You are my last love. You are my everlasting love.”

— Davy Jones, in the song he wrote for his fans, “I’ll Love You Forever"

I loved The Monkees with devotion so pure and so sweet that my psyche swirled like a cotton candy machine when their TV show came on.

If Davy Jones sees my face, he’ll be a believer, not a trace of doubt in his mind. 

Well, maybe my braces counted as traces. And the fact that I was 10. But this was 1966, and I was sure Davy was my destiny.

Who cared if critics called The Monkees the “pre-fab four” and mocked them as a Hollywood-created band formed in the image of The Beatles? Their music was catchy, and Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork, Micky Dolenz and Davy were dreamy. Especially Davy, my daydream believer and fantasy future husband.

Fast forward to 2001, when Davy, Micky and Peter are launching a 35th-anniversary tour. Now I’m 45, and I have a chance to interview Davy. Too bad for him, but I’ve married someone else, and I’m over him now. I’m mature. I’m a boss babe. I’ve got it together. I’m cool!

And then, the phone rings: “Hey, there, this is Davy Jones.”

It took just six words, spoken in that adorable British accent, to set my time machine back to “pathetic pre-teen.” Hello, dorkdom, my old friend.

For a half-second, I felt separated from my body, suspended in an alternate universe. No kidding. Then, a miracle occurred: my pulse rate returned to normal, and I had an actual conversation with my first "love."

Writer Jan Tuckwood with Davey Jones of The Monkees in 2011 backstage after a show in Clearwater, Florida
Writer Jan Tuckwood with Davey Jones of The Monkees in 2011 backstage after a show in Clearwater, Florida
Courtesy Tuckwood

Turns out, my devotion to Davy was stickier than the glue required to plaster a bedroom wall with posters from 16 and Tiger Beat magazines. It stuck for my whole life, and for real.

Over the next decade, I got to know Davy in both of his worlds: his performing life as a Monkee — which never ended, even though the TV show lasted just two years. And through his authentic life as “just another cowboy,” who happened to live 45 minutes away from me, in Indiantown, Florida, where he kept a dozen horses.

The first time we met at his farm, he was in performance mode, and I had stars in my eyes. “Davy Jones is still famously adorable and famously short — 5'3" — but exceptionally long on personality,” I wrote after that meeting. “He jokes. He sings. He banters. Ask him a question, even a geeky question like, ‘What type of sheets do you sleep on?’ (right now, his sheets are made of T-shirt fabric, white with a blue stripe, but he prefers plain white cotton), and he turns on the charm.”

The second time I met him at the farm, he introduced me to a newborn foal, and we walked in the mud, talking for hours about everything from his four daughters to the music he was writing to his horses. This was the real Davy, the one who preferred to be called “David,” who confessed he wished his career had gone far beyond The Monkees.

This was the deep and conflicted man who had suffered romantic heartbreak, who struggled and searched for meaning in life … and wondered why, after all this time in the spotlight, he felt most comfortable shin-deep in manure, mucking about in a stable.

Davy Jones had been famous before The Beatles. In fact, he appeared on the same Ed Sullivan Show that launched The Beatles hysteria in America: Feb. 9, 1964. Eighteen-year-old Davy was starring as the Artful Dodger in “Oliver!” on Broadway and doing a number with the cast. He heard the girls in the audience screaming and thought, “Is that what happens when you’re a pop singer? I want to be part of that.”

He’d remind me, “You know, Jan, the first band with a manufactured image wasn’t The Monkees. It was The Beatles. Brian Epstein (their manager) told them: look this way, move your head this way, move your hair this way. This is how you’ve got to play the game."

Sweet. Wholesome. Talented. Vulnerable. “That’s what people like,” Davy told me.

That’s why 10-year-olds fell in love with Davy in 1966, and why middle-aged women were still screaming their heads off for him in 2001, when I started going to his concerts every spring during Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival.

At Epcot, I got to know a group of diehard Davy fans, including Jan Beaudrie of Beaufort, South Carolina. Jan had lost her high-school sweetheart, her husband, Ken, to lung cancer in 1996, and she was so grief-stricken that she struggled to remember a time when she had been happy.

“I had no idea The Monkees were still alive, let alone touring,” she recalls. Then she heard about the 35th-anniversary tour and went to a concert. “As soon as they came onstage, I was 14 again. I remembered: there was life before.”

Life and joy and The Monkees — that’s the “everlasting love” Davy wrote about in a song for his fans, “I’ll Love You Forever.”

It’s Jan Beaudrie’s favorite Davy song, and mine, too, and I always cry when I play it:

“I’ll love you this year. I’ll love you next year. And then forever…

I’ll always need you. I’ll never leave you. I’ll love you forever…”

I saw Davy for the last time in the summer of 2011, during The Monkees’ 45th-anniversary tour. He told me he didn’t feel good, and he was tired. But then he called me in early February of 2012 and sounded upbeat. “My doctor tells me I have the heart of a 25-year-old,” he said. “Come visit me soon!”

Two weeks later, he rode one of his beloved horses, Zar, around the ring in Indiantown. Then he walked to his car. His friends from the stable found him there, dead of a heart attack.

Davy Jones was 66. Not just a regular cowboy. Forever a Monkee, forever bringing joy to little girls, young and old. Forever my first love … and my friend.

This special issue of The Ethel is devoted to music and how it shapes — and strengthens — our memories. For more on this topic from AARP, including videos, events and memory games, visit aarp.org/musicandmemory

Were YOU a fan of The Monkees? Let us know in the comments below. 

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