The death of Davy Jones yesterday at age 66 at his Florida home of a heart attack seemed to come as a shock to all who knew him — he’d performed only a few weeks ago. It also resurrected (which surely follows … for a Daydream Believer) Monkees’ lore. Davy Jones was a canny enough performer to know that his run as one of the Fab Four II would create the kind of Boomer nostalgia that knows no bounds, and pays any price.
Plenty has been written about the late ’60s made-for-TV band that dared to bite the hand of the zookeeper. But local Monkee maniacs remember how Davy brought his act to the stage right in front of his namesake locker — as part of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk’s Friday night music series. I remember going to see him there on Aug. 8, 2003. While my recollection is of something a little labored and a bit saccharine, I also remember that the crowd loved the old Monkees’ songs and loved 5-foot-3 Davy Jones.
Speaking of celebrities and the Boardwalk, March 2nd is the 50th anniversary of one of sports’ greatest feats: basketball immortal Wilt Chamberlain’s Night of 100 points. What’s particularly poignant about this anniversary, besides the sad fact that Wilt was not immortal (he died in 1999 at the young age of 63), is that it happened with almost no media on hand. Hard to believe in our era of oversaturation, but on a night of almost unthinkable sporting accomplishment in a Hershey, PA gymn, there were no TV cameras on hand, and only one press photographer, who left after one quarter, not realizing history was being made. The only news photos that came from the night were taken by off-duty Associated Press photographer named Paul Vathis, who was there with his 10-year-old son to catch the game. Realizing what was occurring, Vathis went out to his car to fetch his camera, and captured several action photos. After the game, witnessed by only 4,124 paying fans, he got the team publicist to have Wilt pose for a shot holding a handmade sign reading “100.” A wonderful story this week in the Wall Street Journal sports section by Gary M. Pomerantz discusses Wilt’s accomplishment, the famous photo and the epilogue: When the great player died, the AP Paul Vathis photo below was displayed on the dais at the Dipper’s memorial service.
But I digress. About 18 months after Chamberlain’s 100-point night, his team, the Warriors, were training at Cabrillo College for the upcoming season. The team had moved to San Francisco from Philadelphia after the 1961-62 season. So in September 1963, Wilt took a ride on the Boardwalk — forever captured in the Boardwalk’s historic photo at the top of this blog of the Big Dipper triumphant on the Giant Dipper.