Forty five years ago this week, a budding solo singer from Openshaw, Manchester, was waiting to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show in America.
On the same programme in 1964 were a fresh-faced young band from Liverpool who were taking the music world by storm.
The singer was Davy Jones, who was starring as the Artful Dodger in the Broadway production of Oliver.
The group, of course, were the Beatles.
Jones, who was only 18 at the time, was blown away by the sheer adulation of the Beatles’ fans – both inside and outside the studio.
He later said of the night: ‘I watched the Beatles from the side of the stage. I saw the girls going crazy and I said to myself, this is it. I want a piece of that.’
A piece he certainly got as two years later he shot to superstardom as lead singer of global pop sensations the Monkees.
The reception from young fans around the world was rapturous. Jones rapidly became a teen idol, his popularity guaranteed by the Monkees’ TV show.
This celebrity whirlwind was a far cry from 20 Leamington Street, Openshaw, where Jones was born on December 30th 1945.
One of his first acting roles saw him play Ena Sharples’ grandson Colin Lomax in an episode of Coronation Street in March 1961. He also appeared in the Merseyside police drama Z-Cars.
But his life took a very different turn after his mother died of emphysema when Jones was just 14. He left school and turned his back on acting to become an apprentice jockey at Newmarket.
Trainer Basil Foster valued Jones as a jockey, but he rated him more as an actor. So when a friend was looking for someone to be the Artful Dodger in the West End production of Oliver, Foster told him ‘I’ve got the kid!’
Jones played the role in the Lionel Bart musical in London and then New York, which was when he was summoned along with Georgia Brown (Nancy) to the Ed Sullivan Show.
He then appeared in the American TV shows The Farmer’s Daughter and Ben Casey before releasing the single What Are We Going To Do? with Colpix Records in 1965. His debut album, simply titled David Jones, followed later the same year.
Then came the Monkees, a group put together by American company Screen Gems to feature in a TV sitcom based on the life of a band. The show ran from 1966 to 1968.
Jones was joined in the Monkees by American musicians Peter Tork, Mike Nesmith and Micky Dolenz, who had also been a child star playing Corky in the TV series Circus Boy.
Jones was a reasonable drummer, but he took the role of lead singer with Dolenz on drums, Tork on bass and Nesmith on guitar.
What the producers didn’t bank on was the enormous success of the group. They sold more than 75 million records worldwide to become one of the biggest bands of all time.
Classic hits sung by Jones included Daydream Believer, Last Train to Clarksville, Pleasant Valley Sunday and I’m a Believer. Their first album, The Monkees released in 1966, went to Number One in the US charts. So did the next three!
In all, the group made nine albums before disbanding in 1971. The last was Changes in 1970.
Although some critics claimed the Monkees were merely a manufactured copy of the Beatles, the Fab Four themselves appreciated the true quality of the group.
The Beatles even hosted a party for the Monkees when they visited England during the recording of the album Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
The party inspired a Monkees’ tune written by Dolenz which included the line ‘the four kings of EMI are sitting stately on the floor.’
Post Monkees, Jones appeared extensively on stage, TV and film, but never quite recaptured the glory days of the late 1960s and early 70s.
He died of a heart attack in February 2012 after tending his 14 horses in Indiantown, Florida.
In tribute, Peter Tork called him the Manchester cowboy and Mike Nesmith commented: ‘For me, David was the Monkees. They were his band. We were just the side men.’
A private memorial service was held at Lees Street Congregational Church in Openshaw, where Jones first performed as a child in church plays.