I was slogging through a list of to-do items at my office this afternoon when an email popped up with 😦 in the subject line. A friend of mine had heard that Davy Jones passed away today, and she immediately thought of me, the devoted Monkees fan. And she wasn’t the only one. As various other friends and family checked in over the next few hours with the same news, I was immediately transported back to my high school and college days – the height of my own Monkees mania.
Now, before you misunderstand and think I’m getting all nostalgic about my teen years in the 1960s, add about 30 years to that date. I’m getting all nostalgic about my teen years in the 1990s. I first discovered the Monkees during the second half of the ’90s when I was a sophomore or junior in high school. Their catchy music and slapstick comedy in reruns on TV instantly pulled me in, and I became part of a new generation of Monkees fans. My Monkees mania definitely reached its peak one snowy night during my first year of college in 2001.
I had heard that the Monkees – Davy, Peter and Micky – would be performing a reunion concert in Lowell, MA, and I was determined to go. I started a countdown on my dorm room wall, and I recruited friends to tag along: three of us and one driver. The driver was crucial since the concert was about 2.5 hours away from my college in western MA, and I didn’t have a car.
As the fateful day approached, so did a gathering storm. The snow started coming down, and one of my friends backed out of the trip immediately. That’s okay – we still had three, including the driver! And then came the flu. The driver had the flu, and I thought my trip was doomed. But when it came to the Monkees, I was very determined.
Two of us were still up for the trip, so with about five hours to go before the concert, we started asking around and found two girls who were driving to Boston and could drop us in Lowell on the way. They neglected to tell us that they had recently been in a car accident (we were trusting them in a blizzard at our own risk) or that the car heater was stuck on high, so we would be in an oven all the way. But, hey, that’s okay! I had a ride to the concert! What I didn’t have was a ride back, and at that moment, I really didn’t care at all.
Through blinding snow, sweltering heat, and many moments where I thought everyone in the car would give up and turn around and go home, we finally made it to Lowell – with 5 minutes to spare before the show. And what a great show it was! I was probably one of the youngest in the audience at the ripe old age of 18, and I was in heaven. I thought my Monkees experience couldn’t get any better, but I was wrong.
Remember how my friend and I didn’t have a ride back home? Well, that became an issue after the concert ended. Luckily, with my mom’s credit card in hand (thanks, Mom!), my friend and I asked for walking directions to a nearby hotel. We trudged over there, and with our coats covered in snow and our feet sopping wet, we approached the desk to see if they had any rooms available. As I was signing us in, I heard squeals and commotion behind me, and I turned around just in time to see Peter Tork, Micky Dolenz, and Davy Jones walk through a crowd of fans and right by me.
Somehow, in the midst of a blizzard and one top of my crazy push to get us to the concert in the first place, I also managed to check us in to the same hotel as the Monkees and their opening band. They were supposedly leaving right after the concert to get to their next venue before the snow got too bad, but as luck would have it, the snow was awful and they had to stay. What a great blizzard!
I didn’t get to meet the Monkees until the next day, but the opening band – five rather excellent looking guys about my age – stayed on the same floor as me, and my friend and I took turns peeking out the hotel room door and going to fill the ice bucket at every opportunity. We had a lot of ice by the end of the night.
The next morning, after very little sleep, I found myself having breakfast just a few tables away from Davy Jones. It took me the entire breakfast to work up my courage, but finally, as Davy was leaving, I asked for an autograph. He seemed thrilled by my request, and later on – after I got Peter’s autograph too – Davy stopped and gave my friend and me signed photos as we were at the front desk checking out. I overheard the concierge say, “Wow, he’s such a nice guy.”
A few hours later, with my autographs in hand, I stepped off a bus and back onto campus. We had been gone less than 24 hours. I think my friend was just glad to still be alive after the crazy adventure, and as for me, I probably didn’t come down from cloud nine for at least another month. Even now – as I write this more than 10 years later – I still get butterflies in my stomach remembering that fateful concert in the blizzard and – thanks to the snow – my night in the same hotel as the Monkees.
Thanks for the autograph, Davy. You really were such a nice guy.