No Longer The Top Banana

A Monkee Finds Life After Fame

Thirty-five years ago, Davy Jones was where Britney Spears is now.

He was the teen heartthrob of the Monkees, the original boy band. The group had its own TV show and platinum hit records.

The Monkees' debut album in 1966 was number one for 15 weeks, and the record that knocked it out of the top spot was the group's own follow-up album.

Jones and the other Monkees didn't write their greatest hits – that was done by professional composers, and the music was played by studio musicians. All the band members had to do was sing and act like rock stars.

"Me on the tambourine, Mike on the guitar, Peter on the bass and piano and Micky on the drums," Jones tells Correspondent Erin Moriarity. "We weren't the greatest musicians in the world. In fact, when we played the national anthem people from every country stood up. You know what I'm saying?"

But eventually, the press and the critics did care whether the Monkees were writing or playing their own songs. After two years, the TV show was canceled and the band broke up.

"My pass didn't work at Columbia Pictures anymore," Jones recalls. "They took back the GTOs that they'd given us. They took back the Honda motorbikes and all the rest of the things that they'd given us."

In fact, soon after the GTO was returned, Jones got a $600 bill for maintenance or wear-and-tear.

Teen fame is usually fleeting, says Dr, Jonathan Young, a psychologist who has studied the rise and fall of teen idols. "Fame, like clothing, isn't cool very long," he says. "It will age rather quickly. So you know, styles change in two or three years. So do pop singers."

At the height of his fame, Jones earned just $450 a week and since he didn't write or play the music, he received very little in royalties.

"When you've got everything, everybody wants to give you everything," he says. "When you have nothing, nobody wants to give you anything."

A 1968 Monkees movie, produced by Jack Nicholson, was a box-office disaster and Jones' attempt at a solo music career fizzled. For years, he survived on the fringes of show business. Even his marriage began to unravel.

"I think it is hard for every young performer who is so big and so hot," says Dr. Young. "A life after that, and it's gonna be the majority of their life, they'll never be at that state again."

For Jones, whose mother died when he was just 14, the steadying influence has been his older sister Linda, who stood by him through the ups and the downs.

"Having family around is that it stabilizes you," Jones says. "And that kind of support, I don't think everybody has it."

Today, at age 56, Jones is trying to make his name in a new field and the stars are the thoroughbred racehorses at his Florida ranch.

He also dreams of returning to Broadway, where at the age of 15 he received a Tony nomination for his part in "Oliver."

But meanwhile, the Monkee business has begin booming again .

Along with former band mate, Mickey Dolenz, Jones tours as the country playing to often sold-out crowds at casinos, clubs and theme parks. The teen idol who was once voted America's number one prom date finds that he is still in demand.

"It's only happened over the last 10 years that I realized that I have a following, that there are people that enjoy what I do," he says. "I believe in myself more today than I have ever done. "