DAVY Jones, the diminutive heartthrob who rocketed to fame in the 1960s with The Monkees, has died at the age of 66.
The British-born star, who lived in Indiantown, Florida suffered a heart attack.
Jones complained of breathing troubles at home early yesterday and was later taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead. In an emergency services call released last night, an unidentified woman anxiously pleads "Ambulance, please, hurry!" His home was about 27 miles (43km) from the hospital, where he was taken by a fire rescue unit.
Jones' moppish long hair, boyish good looks and his English accent endeared him to legions of screaming young fans in the US after The Monkees premiered on NBC in 1966 as a made-for-TV band seeking to capitalize on Beatlemania.
Aspirations of Beatles-like fame were never fully achieved, with the TV show lasting just two years. But The Monkees garnered a wide American following with love-struck hits such as Daydream Believer and I'm A Believer that endure to this day. Born in Manchester in 1945, Jones became a child star in England who famously made an appearance on Coronation Street as Minnie Caldwell's grandson.
His stage work included a heralded role as The Artful Dodger in the musical Oliver!
He went on to land a Tony nomination when he transferred to Broadway in New York with the production.
His feted performance helped to fast-track him through the auditions for The Monkees, as TV executives put together the group in 1966 partly as a response to the popularity of the Fab Four's movie A Hard Day's Night.
The basin-haired group also featured Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork and woolly-hat wearing Mike Nesmith, as a quartet of wannabe pop stars, forever in scrapes, trying to make ends meet or chasing girls.
The show -- and the accompanying albums -- gave rise to a number of classics, including Daydream Believer, Last Train To Clarksville and Pleasant Valley Sunday, written by luminaries including Neil Diamond.
The bandmates showed they were more than simply a TV construction by playing live on tour -- despite a minor kerfuffle when it emerged that they did not always play on their records.
After their TV series ended, they survived as a trio when Tork left in early 1969 and then, following the departure of Nesmith, as a duo. The Monkees' TV shows continued to be screened around the world long after the group had folded, and they were regularly lured into nostalgia tours, largely without Nesmith.
And three-times-married Jones also appeared on stage in many musicals including The Boyfriend, Godspell (playing Jesus) and a return to Oliver! as Fagin.