WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Davy Jones, the diminutive heartthrob singer who rocketed to the top of the 1960s music charts by beckoning millions of adoring fans with the catchy refrains of The Monkees, died Wednesday. He was 66.
His publicist, Helen Kensick, confirmed that Jones died of a heart attack near his home in Indiantown. Jones complained of breathing troubles early in the morning and was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead, said Rhonda Irons of the Martin County Sheriff's Office. The sheriff's spokeswoman said there were no suspicious circumstances.
Jones' stylishly moppish long hair, boyish good looks and his British accent endeared him to legions of screaming young fans after "The Monkees" premiered on CBS in 1966 as a made-for-TV band seeking to capitalize on Beatlemania still sweeping the world.
Aspirations of Beatles-like fame were never fully achieved, with the TV show lasting just two years. But The Monkees made rock 'n' roll history as the band galvanized a wide American following with love-struck hits such as "Daydream Believer" and "I'm a Believer" that endure even today.
Born in Manchester, England, on Dec. 30, 1945, Jones became a child star in his native England who appeared on television and stage, including a heralded role as "The Artful Dodger" in the play "Oliver."
He earned a Tony nomination at 16 when he reprised that role in the show's Broadway production, a success that brought him to the attention of Columbia Pictures/Screen Gems Television, which created The Monkees. Hundreds turned out for auditions, but the young men who became the Monkees had no idea what ultimately awaited them.
"They had an ad in the newspaper," Jones recalled on NBC's "Today Show" last year, "and then we all showed up."
"The Monkees" was a band clearly patterned on the Beatle's film "A Hard Days Night," chronicling the comic trials and tribulations of a rock group whose four members lived together and traveled to gigs in a tricked-out car called the Monkeemobile. Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz starred with him.