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Obituaries for March 2012

Farewell to The Monkees' Davy Jones, James "Red" Holloway, Dory Previn Shannon, Joe Thompson, Michael Davis, Ronnie Montrose, Robert Sherman, JImmy Ellis and Michael Hossack.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Davy Jones, 66, the diminutive British heartthrob who rocketed to the top of the 1960s music charts by beckoning millions of adoring fans with the catchy refrains of The Monkees, died of a heart attack Feb. 29, 2012.

Jones’ moppish long hair, boyish good looks and his British accent endeared him to legions of screaming young fans after “The Monkees’’ premiered on NBC in 1966 as a made-for-TV band seeking to capitalize on Beatlemania sweeping the world. The TV show lasted just two years, but The Monkees made rock and roll history, as the band garnered a wide American following with hits such as “Daydream Believer’’ and “I’m a Believer.’’

Davy Jones publicity photo courtesy Rhino/Henry Diltz

Born in Manchester, England, on Dec. 30, 1945, Jones became a child star in his native England, appearing on television and stage, including a heralded role as “The Artful Dodger’’ in the play “Oliver.’’ He earned a Tony nomination at 16 when he reprised that role in the show’s Broadway production, a success that brought him to the attention of Columbia Pictures/Screen Gems Television, which created The Monkees.

“The Monkees’’ chronicled the comic trials and tribulations of a rock group whose four members lived together and traveled to gigs in a tricked-out car called the Monkeemobile. Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz starred with him. Each part was loosely created to resemble one of the Beatles.

In August 1966, The Monkees released their first album, introducing the group to the world. The first single, “Last Train to Clarksville,’’ became a No. 1 hit. And the TV show caught on quickly with audiences, featuring fast-paced, helter-skelter comedy inspired as much by the Marx Brothers as The Beatles.

Although The Monkees’ songs did well on the charts, the group came under fire from critics when it was learned that session musicians — not the group’s members — had played the instruments on their recordings. They were derided as the “Prefab Four.” Jones could play the drums and guitar, and although Dolenz learned to play the drums after he joined the group, he also could play guitar, as could Nesmith. Tork, who played bass and keyboards on the TV show, was a multi-instrumentalist. Nesmith wrote several songs for The Monkees and others. The group was supported by enviable talent. Carole King and Gerry Goffin wrote “Pleasant Valley Sunday,’’ and Neil Diamond penned “I’m a Believer.’’ Musicians who played on their records included Billy Preston, Glen Campbell, Leon Russell, Ry Cooder and Neil Young.

The Monkees released the 1968 film “Head,’’ derided at the time as a psychedelic mishmash notable only for an appearance by Jack Nicholson. Today, Monkees fans consider it a cult classic.

After the TV show ended, Jones continued to tour with the other Monkees for a time, sometimes playing the drums at concerts when Dolenz came up front to sing. The group eventually broke up over creative differences, although it did reunite from time to time for brief tours over the years, usually without Nesmith. In 1987, Jones, Tork and Dolenz recorded a new album, “Pool It.’’ All four of the Monkees came together for a 1996 album, “Justus,’’ and a subsequent TV movie “Hey, Hey, It’s The Monkees!’’


DUBOIS, Wyo. (AP) — Longtime Doobie Brothers drummer Michael Hossack,whose work is heard on the hits “Listen To The Music’’ and “China Grove,’’ died of cancer March 12, 2012, at age 65.

Hossack played with the group from 1971 to 1973 and rejoined in 1987. He stopped performing with the band two years ago while struggling with his health. Hossack, who grew up in New Jersey, played in various drum and bugle corps as a youngster. He said the experience prepared him for playing in a two-drummer group such as the Doobie Brothers.

He served in the Navy during the Vietnam War.

After leaving the Doobie Brothers in 1973, Hossack played with two other bands — Bonaroo and DFK — and was a partner at a southern California recording studio.


ROCK HILL, S.C. (AP) — James T. “Jimmy” Ellis, who belted out the refrain “Burn, baby burn!” in The Trammps’ 1970s-era disco hit “Disco Inferno” died March 8, 2012. He was 74. The cause of his death was not immediately known.

Released in 1976, The Trammps’ “Disco Inferno” peaked at No. 11 on Billboard’s Hot 100 charts but remains popular at sports arenas and events. It was featured in the movie “Saturday Night Fever,” the soundtrack of which won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1978.


LONDON (AP) — Robert B. Sherman, 86, who wrote the tongue-twisting “Supercalifragilistic-expialidocious” and other songs for Disney classics, died March 5, 2012.

Working with his brother, Richard, as the Sherman Brothers, the duo composed scores and soundtracks for films including “The Jungle Book,” “Mary Poppins,” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” The Sherman Brothers won two Academy Awards for “Mary Poppins” — best score and best song, “Chim Chim Cher-ee.” They also picked up a Grammy for best movie or TV score, 23 gold and platinum albums and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The duo’s best-known song, “It’s a Small World (After All),” has become one of the most translated and performed songs on the planet.


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Rock guitarist Ronnie Montrose died March 3, 2012, at his home in Millbrae, Calif. He was 64.

Montrose had been battling prostate cancer. In addition to forming his own band in 1973, Montrose performed with a number of rockers, including Sammy Hagar, Herbie Hancock, Van Morrison, Boz Scaggs and the Edgar Winter Group. Montrose had been working on releasing a DVD and starting a tour that would have taken him across the U.S.


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Michael Davis, the bassist of influential late 1960s rock band MC5, died Feb. 17, 2012, of liver failure. He was 68.

|Born on June 5, 1943, Davis gained attention in the revolutionary Detroit band MC5 and later played in a version of the group called DKT-MC5 with former MC5 members Wayne Kramer on guitar and Dennis Thompson on drums. Davis also was a sought-after producer. The original MC5 rose to prominence from 1964 to 1972, making waves with incendiary anti-establishment lyrics and a blistering early-punk sound, starting with their first album “Kick Out the Jams,’’ released in 1969.


MEBANE, N.C. (AP) — Joe Thompson, a nationally renowned old-time fiddler and folk musician, died Feb. 20, 2012. He was 93.

Thompson mastered a style of African-American country fiddling that has largely disappeared. In 2007, he won a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.


SOUTHFIELD, Mass. (AP) — Dory Previn Shannon, who helped pen the score for the film “Valley of the Dolls’’ and the theme for “Last Tango in Paris,’’ died Feb. 14, 2012. She was 86.

She earned Oscar nominations in the 1960s for writing lyrics alongside music by her then-husband, Andre Previn, for the films “Pepe’’ and “Two for the Seesaw.’’ She won an Emmy Award in 1984 for co-writing the theme song for the TV show “Two of a Kind.’’ She sang at Carnegie Hall, wrote a libretto for Mozart’s opera “The Impresario’’ and recorded albums, including “Reflections in a Mud Puddle.”


MORRO BAY, Calif. (AP) — Noted saxophonist James “Red” Holloway, 84, died Feb. 25, 2012, from kidney failure and complications of a stroke.

During a career that spanned nearly seven decades, Holloway’s versatility and driving swing style kept him in demand.

He performed with legends such as Billie Holiday, B.B. King, Lionel Hampton and Aretha Franklin, played for jazz fans around the world and performed in Europe as recently as last October.