Davy Jones of The Monkees died Wednesday of a massive heart attack in Indiantown, Fla . He was 66 years old.
Jones' publicist Helen Kensick confirmed the singer's death to The Associated Press. Jones had reportedly complained of feeling unwell earlier Wednesday morning, and was taken to Martin Memorial Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. A spokesperson for the Medical Examiner's Office in Martin County, Fla., said an autopsy was possible, but did not confirm the nature or schedule of a proposed medical examination.
Jones, who was born in Manchester, England, in 1945, is best known as the frontman of The Monkees, a manufactured musical group created for the purpose of producing a television show around them. The idea for the show was reportedly inspired by The Beatles' film, A Hard Day's Night, and the musical group was packaged as something of an American version of The Beatles, with Jones as the only British member. Bandmates Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, and Michael Nesmith are all American.
Though The Monkees television show, which aired on NBC from 1966 to 1968, and the accompanying Columbia Records album release were both successful commercially, the four members of The Monkees were criticized for being studio pawns instead of musicians, and had difficulty establishing artistic credibility.
But this may have been less of a problem for Jones, who was the clear star of the group, and who -- unlike Tork and Nesmith -- did not have serious aspirations to be known strictly as a musician. Jones had begun acting in England at the age of 11, appearing on the British soap opera Coronation Street and the police show Z-Cars.
According to The Wrap, Jones put his acting career temporarily on hold after his mother's death when he was 14. He later worked on Broadway and was nominated for a Tony Award for his role as the Artful Dodger in Oliver!
At the time The Monkees were conceived, Jones was already under contract with the show's production house, Columbia Pictures-Screen Gems; he had previously released a solo album on the Colpix label.
The majority of The Monkees' songs were written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, though Mike Nesmith has producing and writing credits on some of the earlier recordings. Frustrated by the public perception that they barely participated in their own records, the band members demanded more creative control and in 1967 released two albums (Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd) with minimal outside input.
In the same year, The Monkees recorded Daydream Believer, which was written by John Stewart of the Kingston Trio. The Monkees made some changes to the original lyrics, and added some of their own arrangements. Jones -- initially unsure of the song's potential -- reportedly said that he was annoyed and reluctant while recording the song. Daydream Believer went on to become one of The Monkees' biggest hits, and is one of Jones's signature songs.
In 1968, The Monkees appeared as themselves in the psychedelic film, Head -- a meditation on existentialism and free will that offered commentary on the manufactured nature of The Monkees' stardom. Mainstream audiences largely found the film alienating, and it was not a commercial success.
Another British musician, David Bowie, rose to fame around the same time The Monkees were popular. Bowie was born David Jones and briefly used the stage name Davie Jones, before changing his last name to Bowie in order to avoid confusion with The Monkees frontman.
Shortly after news broke of Jones's death Wednesday, Marcia Brady began to trend on Twitter. This is likely due to a famous appearance Jones made on The Brady Bunch in 1971. Jones played himself in an episode titled Getting Davy Jones, which was centered on Marcia Brady's efforts to convince Jones to perform at the senior prom. Jones performed the song Girl in the episode.
Jones maintained an active Twitter account himself and has an official Facebook page. Based on recent social media activity and news coverage, it does not appear that Jones was suffering ill health in the weeks or days before he died. Jones performed several concert dates so far in 2012; his next show was scheduled for March 11 in Wisconsin Dells, WI.