The Monkees were the most inorganic of rock combos. Assembled by music executives expressly for a television show of the same name, they were meant to capitalize on — and, it was hoped, recreate — the mania surrounding The Beatles. The quartet was cast by film executives Rob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, and their music was supervised by producer Don Kirshner.
Mr. Jones was well-suited to the task. Born Dec. 30, 1945, in Manchester, he began acting on stage and in television at age 11. In 1960, he was cast as the Artful Dodger in the London premiere of the musical Oliver!, based on the novel "Oliver Twist." He followed the show when it traveled to Broadway in 1963, and was nominated for a Tony Award; his rousing signature number was called "Consider Yourself." The cast performed on the same episode of "The Ed Sullivan Show" that featured The Beatles. "I watched the Beatles from the side of the stage," Mr. Jones recalled. "I saw the girls going crazy, and I said to myself, 'This is it, I want a piece of that.'"
Mr. Jones' assigned role in The Monkess was as front man, second vocalist (after Mickey Dolenz) and teenybopper heartthrob. He sang lead vocals on the hits "Daydream Believer," "I Want to Be Free," "Valleri" and "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You." His popularity was such that Gene Roddenberry, when creating "Star Trek," modeled the character of Chekov on Mr. Jones, right down to the hairstyle. Mr. Jones also appeared, along with the rest of the group, in the 1968 film "Head." The group broke up in 1971, though they staged several reunions throughout the years, and their popularity as an oldies group never really faded.
He continued to act on stage on occasion, even recently returning to Oliver!, this time as Fagin.