Davy Jones, lead singer of 1960s made-for-TV band the Monkees, whose hits included I’m a Believer and Last Train to Clarksville, died on Wednesday, a local coroner said. He was 66.
The British-born star, whose TV antics with Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork drew fans, but also unflattering comparisons with the Beatles, died of a heart attack in Florida, the TMZ celebrity Web site said.
The singer died after being transported to Martin Hospital South in Martin County, southern Florida, near where Jones lived, said a spokesman for the hospital, Scott Samples, without providing further details.
“Mr Jones began to complain of not feeling well and having trouble breathing,” the Martin County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement, adding that emergency services took him to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The four-piece band initially gained fame through their TV show about a band called the Monkees, created by legendary US music producer Don Kirshner.
Jones’ good looks and British charm — he was born in Manchester, England — went down well with US audiences, along with the three American group members: guitarist Nesmith, bassist Tork and drummer-singer Dolenz.
Their knockabout antics on the show — with the toe-tapping theme tune Hey Hey, We’re the Monkees — drew criticism that they were a rip-off of the Beatles, who had taken the US by storm a few years earlier, but the show won two Emmy awards in 1967, for best comedy director and outstanding comedy series.
It only aired for three years in the US in the 1960s, but it was re-run elsewhere over the years and is remembered by a generation of fans, if not by current younger audiences.
The band released nine albums between 1966 and 1970, after which they disbanded — but they have come back together in various combinations over the years, according to Billboard magazine.
The star’s bandmates voiced sorrow and shock.
“His talent will be much missed; his gifts will be with us always ... Adios, to the Manchester Cowboy,” Tork wrote on his Facebook page, calling Jones “my long-time friend and fellow-adventurer.”
In an interview with CNN, a mournful Dolenz recalled touring with Jones just a few months ago.
“It was a huge success and the reviews were wonderful, and we left that particular tour on a huge high note,” he said.
Jones was born on Dec. 30, 1945, and gained early fame as a child actor in Britain.
He is survived by his wife Jessica and four daughters from previous marriages, TMZ said.