He was born in Manchester, England, was married three times, and joined The Monkees in 1965. He, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith (whose mom invented what became Liquid Paper while a secretary at IBM) and Peter Tork became hugely popular and had three #1 hits: Daydream Believer, Last Train to Clarksville and I'm a Believer.
Jones' Wikipedia entry notes: "On 9 February 1964, he appeared with the Broadway cast of Oliver! on The Ed Sullivan Show, the same episode on which The Beatles made their first appearance. Jones says of that 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."
In the 60s The Beatles were known as the fab four and the Monkees were derisively called the pre-fab four. The group was cast for a Screen Gems television show bought by NBC and aired from September 1966 to March 1968.
Below: the I'm A Believer romp from the "Dance, Monkees, Dance" episode of their TV show.
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The series was filmed by Screen Gems, and many of the same sets and props from The Three Stooges short films made by the studio were used on The Monkees: A pair of pajamas with a bunny design on the front that had been worn by Curly Howard in shorts such as Cactus Makes Perfect and In the Sweet Pie and Pie were the same ones worn by Peter Tork in various episodes such as "A Coffin Too Frequent" and "Monkee See, Monkee Die".To keep noise on the set down during filming, any of the four Monkees who was not needed in front of the cameras was locked into a converted meat locker. In DVD commentary, Tork noted that this had the added benefit of concealing any marijuana use that might be going on, although he admitted that he was the sole "serious 'head'" of the four of them. (In the 1980s, Tork gave up alcohol and marijuana use and has volunteered time to help people recovering from alcoholism.) In a studio outtake included in the 1990s re-release of Headquarters, Nesmith quips, before launching into "Nine Times Blue": "Only difference between me and Peter is I'm just stone legal."
Beatle George Harrison with Monkee Peter Tork at
Abbey Road studios, 1969. Photo: John McNabDue to the loosely scripted nature of the series, some episodes would come in too short for air. The producers decided to fill time with various "extras", including the Monkees' original screen tests and candid interviews with the group. The show also bucked the trend of using a laugh track, which was standard practice at the time. Most of the episodes from Season 2 did not contain canned laughter, which NBC later used as one of several reasons for cancelling the series.Dolenz said in a 2007 interview on the Roe Conn radio program that, while inspiration did come from the Beatles, the band's image was not meant to be a rip-off of them. He said that the Beatles were always depicted as superstars with legions of fans, whereas the Monkees were always depicted as unsigned and struggling to make a buck. This is reflected numerous times throughout the series, such as in the pilot where Mike Nesmith is seen throwing darts at a Beatles album sleeve, and in the episode "Find The Monkees (The Audition)" where the Monkees struggle to see a famous television producer who is looking for a rock act for use in commercial advertisements; in the episode "I Was A 99-Pound Weakling" Micky is tricked into signing onto a bogus weight-training program but objects by noting, "Where am I gonna get that kind of money? I'm an unemployed drummer." Also in a screen test, a Monkee asks what the Beatles have that they don't have. They sing "Thirteen million dollars!"