"It's all a bit of fun, the whole idea is," Jones told me.
He was 63 at the time and still had the movie-star good looks that had made him a singing sensation in the late 1960s. I found him to be chatty, charming and down to earth. He dressed for his photo shoot in a rocker T-shirt and leather riding chaps and posed with one of his horses. Afterward, he did a couple of media interviews to help us promote the feature.
Everyone, of course, wanted to meet Jones, whose four-member singing group was modeled after the Beatles. Looking back, I suppose he must have chafed a bit at how hung up we all were with his having been a member of the Monkees, which was assembled for a TV show that ran for just two seasons.
"I was on Broadway when I was 15 years old," he said during a news conference last summer. "I was nominated for a Tony Award when I was 16 years old. Yeah, my background is theater, radio, BBC in England and some other television programs that I was in over there. And a career takes you in a certain direction if you want to, so that Bobby McFerrin won't sing 'Don't Worry Be Happy' when he does a show. But, you know, 'Daydream Believer' is the most requested karaoke song in the world. Am I supposed to feel great about that? John Stewart wrote it. His wife collects the royalties. It's not, as I say, about dollars and cents. If somebody stops me and wants to do the Monkee walk, you know, I'll say 'OK.' But my background has been in theater."
Unfortunately for the Philadelphia fans who had hoped to meet him and possibly get him to do the Monkee walk, Jones was a no-show at our annual Sexy Singles party the summer he was featured. Sometime between the photo shoot and the party, he realized that he was still in love with his ex-girlfriend, a gorgeous flamenco dancer/actress whom he had met during a production of "Cinderella" in 2006. The two had dated for 2 1/2 years before drifting apart, mainly because of their careers. She lived in Florida and Jones was hundreds of miles away in Pennsylvania. Then, one day, as he worked on his farm and daydreamed about her, "I said to myself, 'This is ridiculous. What am I doing building a wall here?' "
He hopped on a plane and went straight to her home, where he proposed. After the couple reunited, they were engaged for just three weeks before marrying in an intimate ceremony at her parents' home in Miami. His four adult daughters from previous marriages weren't present. During their exchange of vows, Jones sang "All of Me" to his bride and invited their guests to join in. The couple honeymooned in Bali and were just getting back to the States, which is why he wasn't at the Sexy Single party.
When I caught up with him days later in Florida, he sounded like a giddy teenager in love, going on about how happy he was and how his bride was buying new glasses and other things to make their home cozy. It was as if he'd been missing something and finally had found it.
"I don't want to be alone anymore," he told me afterward. "I don't want to be on my own. It's great having been a teen idol, but when the curtain comes down, all I had before I met her was myself."
Jones was 66 when he died. I hope he took comfort knowing that the woman he loved wasn't far away.
- Daily News Staff Writer Ellen Gray contributed to this report.