I want to tell you about the conversation I had once with Davy Jones.
Which Davy Jones, you might ask. Why, the lead singer for The Monkees, I would reply. You remember The Monkees, the group that was assembled back in the 60s by music executives as an answer to the original Fab Four, The Beatles. The Monkees were the Prefab Four. And despite their kitschy persona, they’re credited with some pretty good tunes. Last Train to Clarksville. I’m a Believer. Pleasant Valley Sunday. Their fame peaked in the late 60s, early 70s. I met Davy Jones many years later.
One of the advantages of being old is that I can claim a first-row seat to significant historical events. I saw JFK’s motorcade in Houston the day before he was assassinated in Dallas. I watched on live television as Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon. And I was smack-dab in the middle of the original disco craze.
I was a student in Morgantown when a still skinny, still cool John Travolta danced his way through Saturday Night Fever. Then we would go to the local disco, Fat Daddy’s, and try to dance the Hustle to music by Yvonne Elliman and the Bee Gees.
Disco was like a spectacular shooting star and by the late 70s the fad was already on its way out. Then in 1980, a still skinny, still cool John Travolta danced his way through Urban Cowboy. So we all went to the faux-cowboy clubs and tried to dance the two-step to music by Mickey Gilley and, well, it was pretty much Mickey Gilley.
Which brings me to The Galaxy 2000.
In the late 70s, a Kroger store in Spring Hill (WV) had closed and sat vacant until someone decided to cash in on the disco craze and converted the building into a giant disco, The Galaxy 2000. It was actually well done, by disco standards. It had a big dance floor, lots of colored, flashing lights, and the requisite mirrored disco ball. And then came the aforementioned fading of the flashing disco craze. No problem. The club was converted to West Virginia’s version of Mickey’s (as in Mickey Gilley’s club where Urban Cowboy was set). But country line dancing died out faster than disco and The Galaxy scrambled to stay relevant.
Their answer? Live music.
In 1980, The Police released Zenyatta Mondatta and began their climb to world-wide fame. And we’re talking Beatles level of fame. Some time before that, they played at The Galaxy 2000. Really. No, I didn’t see the show. I’d never heard of The Police.
But I had heard of The Monkees. By then, they had broken up and Davy Jones was touring as a solo act and one of his stops was The Galaxy. At that point he was more of a b-list act, maybe even c-list, if there is such a thing. Still, The Galaxy was packed. It was an intimate setting and the show was surprisingly good. Davy could really sing. Between sets, he actually mingled with the audience a little. Then he went into one of the side rooms to relax and shoot some pool. A bunch of fans followed and stood around and watched. I was one of them.
He walked around the table, looking for his best shot. Then he stopped in front of me and studied the balls on the table. He lined up the shot. It was a tricky kiss off the bumper to the corner pocket. The place went quiet. He pulled a couple of practice strokes and then softly struck the cue ball. It traveled slowly over the felt and hit the bumper and ball at the same time, nudging it toward the pocket. And then it dropped.
“Nice shot,” I said.
He turned and looked at me with that famous Davy Jones smile and said, “Thanks.”
True story. All of it.
Yeah, that’s it. Not a deep conversation. Pretty much the typical brush with fame story people like to tell. Really, it means nothing.
I once met Stephen Dubner, co-author of Freakonomics. I had a similarly brief conversation. It meant nothing.
Real conversations and real connections take time. They take people who are willing to put themselves out there and exchange thoughts and ideas. That’s what I love about talking to you guys who read what I write. We have real conversations. We make great connections.
Thank you for that. It means more than you know.