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Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Monkees’ “I’m a Believer”: In Memory of Davy Jones

As Billboard magazine put it, “The cute Monkee is gone.” BB Davy Jones was “the crush of millions of girls during the ‘60s and beyond,” BB including Marcia Brady in a classic episode of television’s The Brady Bunch. Of course, Jones and his fellow Monkees had made a huge splash on TV long before that (The Monkees debuts on TV: September 12, 1966). That show was modeled after the fun and camaraderie of The Beatles in their 1964 movie A Hard Day’s Night. The “made-up” band took flack from some rock ‘n’ roll purists since the group didn’t originally play their own instruments, but The Monkees still went on to great chart success and a career selling more than 50 million records worldwide. BB

Jones died of a heart attack at Martin Memorial Hospital in Stuart, Florida on the morning of February 29, 2012. He is survived by fourth wife , Jessica, and four daughters. He was 66.

In honor of Davy, here’s the entry for the Monkees’ “I’m a Believer” from the DMDB book
The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era, 1954-1999:

Jeff Barry discovered Neil Diamond singing in a coffee house in Greenwich Village. BR1 They became two of the biggest talents for the hit-making machine known as the Brill Building. Diamond has become one of the most successful singer/songwriters, ranking #3 all-time on the adult contemporary charts and in the top 25 for the pop charts. However, his biggest success came via a made-for-television group.

That group, the Monkees, were modeled after the playful spirit of the Beatles’ movies. JA While they fought to play their own songs, producers limited the Monkees to singing and brought in session musicians for the instruments. SF The show, which aired from 1966 to 1968, propelled the Monkees to the top of the charts with debut single “Last Train to Clarksville.”

When publisher Don Kirshner was seeking a million-selling follow-up, he turned to Barry and Elle Greenwich, Diamond’s producers, after hearing Diamond’s top 10 hit “Cherry Cherry” on the radio. BR1 Kirshner picked out several songs Diamond was prepping for his next album, among them “I’m a Believer.” The head of Diamond’s record company couldn’t believe he’d give away potential number ones, but, as Diamond says, “I couldn’t have cared less because I had to pay the rent.” SF After all, Diamond intended to give the song to country artist Eddy Arnold. KL

In the Monkees’ hands, the song became the biggest hit of 1966 WHC and “one of the Hot 100’s finest specimens of pure pop genius.” BB100 The song went to #1 for 7 weeks in the U.S. and sold 10 million copies worldwide, making it one of the world’s all-time best-selling songs. Diamond still recorded the song, releasing it on his 1967 album Just for You and as a single in 1971, peaking at #51. The song resurfaced in 2001 when the alternative rock group Smash Mouth recorded it for the movie Shrek and took it to #25 on the pop charts.


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