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Hey, Hey Monkees Fans

Davy Jones, PBS '60s concert host, reminisces about 50 years in show business

Former Monkees star Davy Jones was tapped to host a PBS concert special on Dec. 3 with Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits. — Image provided by TJL Productions

Editor’s note: Davy Jones died Wednesday of a heart attack at age 66 in Florida. This appreciation of the former Monkee originally appeared on on Dec. 1, 2011.

He's still the cute one. At 65, Davy Jones is looking tanned and fit in a light blue shirt, light gray jacket and charcoal trousers. His salt-and-pepper hair spills over his collar in back, a few tendrils of silvery bangs fall attractively over his forehead. The Manchester, England-born former teen idol, who breeds and raises racehorses when he's not busy performing, maintains a dashing image.

Through much of this year, he's dashed through a schedule that would frighten many — touring and making promotional appearances, both solo and with his old Monkees band mates Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz. Forty-five years after Monkee mania hit the U.S., the trio (Michael Nesmith sat out the tour) sold out many of the dates on their reunion tour, and won ecstatic reviews across the country. Rolling Stone called their two-hour performance "an excellent show from a legendary pop band giving out much, much, much more than they had to."

There's another, unexpected side to the one-time heartthrob that begins to emerge as he settles down for a chat at a quiet table in the Beverly Hilton Hotel. He's here to talk about his life and current work, including the PBS Dec. 3 concert special he hosts with Peter Noone, '60s Pop Rock: My Music. But soon it becomes clear he'll talk a blue streak about all kinds of things. Opinions, stories and jokes — he has a collection of Irish groaners he claims were given to him by a retired nun who is his neighbor — pour out of him without pause.

Jones approaches aging with a lot of humor, some of it plain dumb, Monkees style. Example: "I went to the home to see Micky, and I said (loudly and slowly), 'Micky, DO-YOU-KNOW-WHO-I-AM?' He says, 'Ask the nurse, she'll tell you.'"

But seriously, "I feel good, you know? If you feel good and you're really interested in whatever it is you're doing, age doesn't matter. Life is very interesting, if you want it to be interesting."

His is certainly that. This is Jones' 50th year in show business and he makes it clear he loves it as much as ever, feeling most alive when he's out on stage. With the Monkees tour behind him, his attention has turned elsewhere. He's focusing on a yet-untitled musical he's co-written that takes place in a small English town at the outbreak of World War II. "The music is finished, the book is finished. I'll probably direct it, and there's a possibility I'll perform in it."

And then there's '60s Pop Rock: My Music, a concert showcasing an array of AM radio favorites including Paul Revere and The Raiders ("Kicks"), Gary Lewis & The Playboys ("This Diamond Ring"), The Kingsmen ("Louie, Louie"), The Ventures ("Hawaii Five-O"), ? & The Mysterians ("96 Tears") and Jefferson Airplane ("Somebody To Love"). Some of the personnel have changed, some acts are all original members. Jones performs and cohosts with Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits, an old friend.

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