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Davy Jones, second left, with the Monkees in their 1968 film, Head. Photograph: Everett Collection / Rex Feature
Davy Jones, the singer of the Monkees, has died of a heart attack, the website TMZ has reported. Jones, who was 66 years old, died at the Martin Memorial Hospital in Florida.
Jones was born in Manchester in 1945, and was a child actor, appearing in Coronation Street and Z Cars in 1961 and 1962. He found fame, though, after moving to Los Angeles and being cast as the lead singer in The Monkees, for a TV series about a fictional pop group that was put together by Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, who later became key figures in the "New Hollywood" movement of the 1970s.
The Monkees aired for 58 episodes from 1966 to 1968. At first, their music was written and recorded for them, the four members of the Monkees adding only their own voices. Gradually, however, the group asserted their own personalities. Though their 1966 debut album contained none of their own compostions, they were able to steer their music away from the bubblegum pop of the TV series towards the self-mocking psychedelia of thier sixth album, Head, the soundtrack to their 1968 movie.
Head proved to be the demise of the Monkees as a commercial force. The film was scripted by Rafelson and Jack Nicholson, and deliberately undercut the Monkees' wholesome image. In it, the group sang: "Hey, hey, we are the Monkees/ You know we love to please/ A manufactured image/ With no philosophies." It also featured, however, a recording of Carole King's The Porpoise Song, which came to be regarded as one of pop psychedelia's crowning moments. The film was a massive commercial flop, though it has since become a cult favourite. Nevertheless, Jones remained unhappy about the film. "They were throwing us to the 'gators at that point," he told the Guardian last year, speaking of Rafelson and Nicholson.
Although the group fell apart over the next two years, they secured an afterlife thanks to the widespread syndication of the original TV series, and engaged in periodic reunions. Even last May, they were still able to mobilise sufficient fans to play at the Royal Albert Hall. They came to be regarded with widespread affection
The Monkees proved to be the highpoint of Jones's career. Though he acted intermittently on TV in the subsequent years, he never again had a significant role, and could not carve himself out a solo musical career.