It's all those other stars who died from monkeying around, succumbing to the temptations associated with fame. Not Davy Jones, who seemed to be the picture of good habits and health — if not the portrait of Dorian Gray — before he died of a heart attack at 66 Wednesday morning in Florida.
"You know I used to be a heartthrob and now I'm a coronary," Jones said in an interview last August with the Broadway World website, surely little realizing that his quip might actually serve as a witty, spooky epitaph.
Jones reportedly passed away in his parked car after visiting his horses at a ranch near his oceanside home in Indiantown, Florida. Earlier, he'd told ranch hands he was having difficulty breathing. The previous night, he had gone to a nearby hospital complaining of chest pains, according to reports.
But before Tuesday night, there were few indications, at least publicly, that Jones was anything but the overgrown moptop who put a cheerful frontman's face on repeated Monkees reunions — the last of which came to a halt last summer under still-mysterious circumstances.
Jones' last gig was a solo appearance Feb. 19 at the WinStar Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma where, from all appearances, he'd been his usual chipper self. In January, he'd spent a week at sea as part of an oldies-themed cruise, performing along with Paul Revere & the Raiders and the Buckinghams. "Had a WONDERFUL time," he tweeted upon returning to shore Jan. 28. He had further dates lined up through the rest of the year, with a plan to return to the road March 11 in Wisconsin.
Family photos --and the occasional horse pic -- consumed more of his blog as of late than the need to provide Monkees fans with any band status updates. One of his final posts was a December photo of his fourth grandchild, Lauren. Twice divorced, he had four daughters, ranging in age from 23 to 43, at least some of whom shared his love for all things equestrian. He exchanged vows again, with third wife Jessica, in Miami on August 30, 2009.
His last solo release was "Let Them Be Little," an EP he released as a limited edition CD through his store at davyjones.net. Besides the title track, which belied his status as a proud family man, the disc included a new version of "Daydream Believer" as well as an "Oliver Medley" -- recalling the early '60s, when Jones was up for a Tony for playing the Artful Dodger on Broadway in his pre-Monkees days.
Jones had renewed his interest in things theatrical in the late '80s and '90s, including a stint playing Fagin in an "Oliver!" revival. His most recent passion project was an original musical he was co-writing with Chris Andrews. "We've gone the way of 'Hello Dolly" and 'Funny Girl'," he told Broadway World. "It's a traditional show. It would be a great idea at this time in my life to direct it, produce it..."
Jones wasn't above age-related jokes, as the coronary line would suggest. "My opening line for my show is 'Hello, I'm Davy's dad. Davy will be out here in a minute'," he said last summer. "I make a joke in the show about Micky, Pete and Mike being in the Actor's Home in Hollywood. I tell the audience, 'I went to see them the other day and I said to Micky, 'DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?' and Peter says to me, 'Ask the nurse, Davy, she'll tell you.'"
His fellow Monkees were quick to post tributes. Although it was Mike Nesmith who was least inclined to join in any Monkees reunions, as the songwriter within the original group, not surprisingly, he had the most to say.
[Courtesy Everett Collection]"While it is jarring, and sometimes seems unjust, or strange," wrote Nesmith, "this transition we call dying and death is a constant in the mortal experience that we know almost nothing about. I am of the mind that it is a transition and I carry with me a certainty of the continuity of existence. While I don't exactly know what happens in these times, there is an ongoing sense of life that reaches in my mind out far beyond the near horizons of mortality and into the reaches of infinity. That David has stepped beyond my view causes me the sadness that it does many of you. I will miss him, but I won't abandon him to mortality. I will think of him as existing within the animating life that insures existence. I will think of him and his family with that gentle regard in spite of all the contrary appearances on the mortal plane. David's spirit and soul live well in my heart, among all the lovely people, who remember with me the good times, and the healing times, that were created for so many, including us. I have fond memories. I wish him safe travels."
Mickey Dolenz had this to say: ""I am in a state of shock. 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."
Peter Tork couldn't resist ending his homage with a salute to Jones' horsemanship. "It is with great sadness that I reflect on the sudden passing of my long-time friend and fellow-adventurer, David Jones. His talent will be much missed; his gifts will be with us always. My deepest sympathy to Jessica and the rest of his family. Adios, to the Manchester Cowboy."
Related Stories on Yahoo!: