By late Friday afternoon, no one had yet snapped up the Davy Jones Halloween Costume – complete with face mask. Nor had the deep blue pin-striped vest, part of a once-upon-a-time Monkees clothing line, been sold.
But hundreds of photographs of Peter Tork, Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones and Michael Nesmith had been purchased, along with T-shirts, fan mags, records and Jones’ life story, “They Made A Monkee Out Of Me.”
It had been billed as a “Celebration of the ‘60s,” and indeed there were lots of Paul McCartney photos and some Herman’s Hermits memorabilia, but it was apparent from the fans who had gathered Friday that it was an undying love for the made-for-TV pop group that brought them to Chicago from around the world.
“I first saw them on television when I was 18 and I’ve liked them ever since,” said Kiyoko Komota, 27, in town from Yokohama, Japan, for her first Monkees/’60s convention and toting a bagful of souvenirs.
Komota was one of 100 or so who kicked off the event, subtitled “The Official 1990 Monkees Convention,” at the Bismarck Hotel, 171 W. Randolph St.
“We had such an overwhelming demand to also hold a ‘60s convention, we decided to combine them,” said Mike Bush, convention producer, who also organized the first Monkees event in 1988.
The result is three days of talks by those who worked with the Monkees, videos and concerts with songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart (“Last Train to Clarksville”) and the Cowsills (“Hair”). There were fan clubs, awards for best ‘60s outfit and autograph signings. At least 1,000 fans were expected, Bush said.
But a Monkees convention is more than memorabilia and photos. “I’m a first-generation Monkees fan,” explained Jeannie Campion of Minneapolis, “and part of the fun is seeing friends you’ve been pen pals with since 1967; to see some of the Monkees, and to go back to being 16.”
Although the even celebrated all the Monkees, the undisputed man of the hour appeared to be Jones, who was scheduled to perform Saturday night at the hotel. “This is a really popular one,” announced Janice Jennings of Huntsville, Ala., proffering a photo of a tuxedoed Jones. “And this one’s already sold out,” she added, clutching a photo of a blue-jeaned Jones in a pastoral setting.
Jennings, a Beatles fan, converted to the Monkees because of Jones. “He was the cute, adorable one with the British accent, and I was 11,” she said.