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  • UK singer Davy Jones, who with three bandmates parlayed an American television comedy show into a major music career as The Monkees, died suddenly this morning (Feb. 29) of a massive heart attack. He was 66.

    Jones’ death came as a shock to almost everyone. Publicist Helen Kensick confirmed that he died unexpectedly in sleep at his Florida home, leaving behind four children, all adults.

    “I am in a state of shock,” bandmate Micky Dolenz, 66, told TheImproper. “Davy and I grew up together and shared in the unique success of what became The Monkees phenomena.

    “The time we worked together and had together is something I’ll never forget. He was the brother I never had and this leaves a gigantic hole in my heart,” he added. “The memories have and will last a lifetime. My condolences go out to his family.”

    Fellow bandmember Peter Tork, 70, also released a statement. “It is with great sadness that I reflect on the sudden passing of my long-time friend and fellow-adventurer, David Jones,” he said.

    “His talent will be much missed; his gifts will be with us always. My deepest sympathy to Jessica and the rest of his family. Adios, to the Manchester Cowboy.”

    The pop icon, who was born in Manchester, North West England in 1945, began his acting career at 11 on the British television soap opera “Coronation Street.” He was a seasoned actor when he joined the Monkees in 1965  with Micky, Peter and guitarist Michael Nesmith.

    The show was a take-off of the zany antics of The Beatles, who had swept the nation by storm. But the Monkees were all talented musicians. The show aired for two and a half years, and it gave the group a platform to showcase their musical talent.

    The band’s heyday coincided with the show, but they continued to make music into the 1970s. Dolenz said the group worked with the best songwriters in the business, including Carol King and others. Dolenz later made a tribute album to the artist.

    The Monkees in 1966. Davy Jones lower left, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, Michael Nesmith.

    Although the show was a take off on the Beatles, the Fab Four embraced the Monkees. They hosted a party for the group when they visited England. The group was hugely popular and once had seven albums on the Billboard top 200 chart at the same time.

    Their hits included “Daydream Believer,” “Last Train To Clarksville” and “I’m a Believer.” Rock God Jimi Hendrix opened for the band during one of its tours, giving the artist exposure early in his career.

    In all, the Monkees released 121 songs on nine albums and 8 singles, between 1966 and 1970.

    After the group broke up, its members went their separate ways. Jones had an extended career as a musician and a television personality. Their popularity prompted MTV to re-air “The Monkees” series, introducing the group to a new audience, and the band staged several reunion tours.