Davy Jones (1945-2012)
When I was 12, in my daydreams, I was Ann Moses, the editor of Tiger Beat, my fave teen magazine that featured stories and photos of bands and actors. She always wore groovy clothes, white or light pink lipstick and had bright red hair. She talked to Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz on the phone. Bobby Sherman called her “babe.” She was cool.
My reality at age 12 was I went to church camp for a week in early summer. I was awkward, sweaty and about as far from my definition of cool as you could get. Plus, I was homesick.
On Wednesday evening of that week, I waited in line at the phone booth to call home. The counselors told us to keep the calls short because a lot of people were waiting. When it was finally my turn, I made the collect call and my mom had news.
She and her friend Frances, who was also my friend Jean’s mother, had bought tickets for Jean and me to see The Monkees – Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork, Davy Jones and my fave, Micky Dolenz – on July 11, 1967. Two young women, one of whom worked with Frances, had agreed to take Jean and me to see the band at what was then the Charlotte Coliseum. I started screaming into the phone, and my camp counselor later told me that she thought someone in my family had died.
The indignities of camp life receded as I anticipated seeing Micky in person. I was first and foremost a fan of The Beatles. But The Monkees antics and songs on their weekly television show had made a fan out of me.
When I got home from camp, my mom and I went shopping as the concert was coming right up. I picked out a blue sleeveless jumper, which I never wore again, although it hung in my closet for years.
At the show, I remember we were up near the top of the coliseum, to the left of the stage. The screaming was unbelievable.
I have to admit something. I don’t remember the opening act. Local lore has it that Jimi Hendrix was booed off the stage but I really don’t remember. I was there to see Micky. So sue me.
I can’t tell you what songs they played. I cried even though I wanted to be cool like Ann
Moses. After the show, Joan and her friend hustled us out, but instead of going straight home they maneuvered the car around the coliseum parking lot and managed to get behind the bus – yes, the bus carrying the band. We followed the bus across Charlotte to Morehead Street and the Red Carpet Inn. Sadly, they didn’t stop – I doubt we could have gotten into the hotel, but who knows? Still it was fun to report back to our friends that we followed the bus.
In the midst of all this Monkeemania, Charlotte Observer Columnist Kays Gary got a brilliant idea to raise money for Holy Angels in Belmont NC, a program of the Sisters of Mercy that helps children with disabilities. He hustled to the hotel, retrieved the sheets the guys slept on and had them cut into one-inch squares. The pillowcases were left intact. If you sent a dollar and a stamped, self-addressed envelope, you got a square. I still have my square – in the luck of the draw I got a piece of the sheet Micky slept on. Sigh. I think the pillowcases were raffled off separately.
After that first concert experience, I saw many shows at the coliseum on Independence Boulevard: Chicago, The Rolling Stones (with Stevie Wonder opening), Elvis, Bob Dylan and the Band, Eric Clapton, Santana, Billy Joel, Marshall Tucker, The Kinks, Jimmy Buffett, Tina Turner (with surprise guest, Mick Jagger), Willie Nelson.
In the mid-1980s, reruns of The Monkees’ show proved popular on MTV, and Peter, Micky and Davy went back on tour. When that tour was announced, the closest show to Charlotte was in Chapel Hill, NC. Road trip! That tour was successful enough to be extended, so the guys came to Charlotte and again played the old coliseum. I was happy to be there, again. With much better seats this time.
Flash forward to 1996. A 30th anniversary Monkees tour is announced and Charlotte’s Blockbuster Pavilion is one of the stops. Several weeks prior to the concert, as part of my job, I try to channel Ann Moses in a telephone interview with Micky for a story about the show.
The day of the show, I found myself in the lobby of a hotel close to the Pavilion. A writer friend of mine had met and interviewed Micky a year or so before. She lived in Atlanta, but as the band wasn’t stopping in Atlanta on this tour, she decided to come to Charlotte to see Micky and the show.
I was rather stunned to see Micky walk out of the elevator. My friend showed up minutes later with her sister and another friend in tow. After introductions and to escape the whispering, growing crowd in the lobby, Micky ushered us all into a private dining room. I gotta say that dinner was fun but also a bit surreal.
After dinner, Micky graciously invited us to ride with him to the gig on the bus. Turned out he was sharing a bus with Davy, who seemed surprised at the entourage and was a bit standoffish.
Once at the gig, we were issued backstage passes and trouped after Micky to his dressing room. He told us about gargling with tea tree oil for his throat. He posed with each of us for a photo. He asked us all to wait in the hall while he dressed, so we were standing around when Davy popped out of his dressing room next door. A huge wardrobe “trunk” was in the hall as it was too tall to fit inside the dressing room door. Davy, oblivious to us, stood there going through his wardrobe. I reached for my camera but then thought, “No.” Although I was sure that no one would believe I saw Davy Jones in his underwear, I knew Ann Moses would never have taken such a photo.
I watched part of the show from the audience but it was raining like crazy — and the Pavilion is an open-air shed — so after the break, I elected to watch the rest from the wings.
After the show, we very briefly went to a “meet and greet” at the venue, then boarded the bus for the ride back to the hotel. The hotel bar was kept open for the band and crew, and we commandeered a small table. Peter held court across the room at the bar with a full entourage. Davy wandered from group to group, talking and laughing with folks, much more relaxed than before the show.
At one point, Micky and my friend went for a walk, and Davy came to our table. He sat down beside me, swirled his gin and tonic and flashed that blinding, charming grin. We chatted about the gig and tour, and I probably told him that I’d seen the show back in the 60s. I don’t remember. Now, I really wish I had asked permission to take a photo. He flirted with us, mostly the younger ladies, but all I could think about was that 12-year-old girl who screamed in the phone booth and how she would be amazed that her 40-something self would have had dinner and drinks with a couple of The Monkees.