Davy Jones, Teen Idol

The world has lost a teen idol and icon of the 1960s: Davy Jones, beloved member of the Monkees, and an actor, singer and songwriter. Jones died this morning of a heart attack, and the news quickly swept the Internet. Folks are professing their deep childhood crushes on Jones, expressing disbelief that he could die so young, and – of course – sharing videos of favorite Monkees songs.

Before he was ever a Monkee, Jones was an actor. The English-born young man was on two BBC series before the age of 14 – Coronation Street and Z-Cars. But Jones wasn't just a talented actor – his small stature (he was 5 foot 3 as an adult) made him a natural to train as a jockey. But even his racing-world mentor thought he should be an entertainer, thanks to his charisma and abilities. So it was back to acting, with a Broadway role as the Artful Dodger in Oliver! and appearances on American TV.

When the concept of The Monkees show was born – a manufactured rock band, made just for TV – Jones was in on the early auditions, and he was the first band member to be cast. The Monkees received criticism for their genesis, sometimes called the "Pre-Fab Four"… and while it's true that success was handed to them easily by television, each band member was cast because of his talent. As the band and the show grew, they fought for more creative control and began writing their own songs as well. TV made them famous, but it didn't give them talent – that was all their own.

After leaving the Monkees in 1971, Jones continued to pursue his three passions – singing, acting and racing horses. Among other projects, he collaborated with beloved children's author Sandra Boynton to record "Your Personal Penguin," a companion song to her book of the same name. Now a whole new generation is discovering the joy of Jones's music.

Jones is still a favorite of the parents and grandparents of the kids reading Your Personal Penguin, too. In 2008, Yahoo Music named him the top teen idol of all time, and Monkees videos are all over YouTube for folks who want to relive their favorites – or discover the songs for the first time.