Manchester-born Monkees lead singer Davy Jones has died in Florida of a heart attack, aged 66.

Jones, who found fame as the frontman of the band put together to star in their own TV show, had an early start in showbusiness when he appeared as Ena Sharples' grandson in Coronation Street.

Three of the band's original members - Jones, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork - got back together last year to play a series of gigs.

The band had nine top 40 hits including I'm A Believer and Pleasant Valley Sunday but were initially criticised for the manufactured nature of their career, with Californian rivals The Byrds mocking them in their single So You Want To Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star.

But they eventually proved themselves, writing more of their own songs and starring in 1960s cult film Head with Jack Nicholson.

The band's fourth original member, Mike Nesmith, who went on to record a series of critically acclaimed country albums, did not take part in the reunion.

A spokeswoman for the Medical Examiner's Office for Martin County, Florida, said: "The District 19 Medical Examiner's Office has been informed of the death of Mr Davy Jones.

"The Medical Examiner's Office will take jurisdiction and a possible autopsy will be performed and evaluation of the circumstances of death and medical information."

Jones also appeared in Z Cars before leaving showbusiness to train as a jockey but came back to acting with a role in a stage production of Oliver! He appeared in the West End and followed the show to Broadway where he built up a career as an actor and singer before he auditioned for The Monkees.

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by Anthony Barnes, Press Association

Davy Jones was the ever youthful and mop-topped "short one" from The Monkees, who scored chart hits and TV success during the 1960s and beyond.

Only last year, the British-born star was touring the heritage circuit once again as he teamed up with most of his bandmates from the slapstick show.

But away from the screen role which won successive generations of fans, he had a successful stage career and was a talented horseman, a skill which had also seen him briefly working as a jockey before he found fame.

Jones - who was born in Manchester in 1945 - famously took a brief role in Coronation Street during the show's early days in the early 1960s, while still a teenager.

After a stint training as a jockey in Newmarket, he landed his big acting break thanks to his boyish features and diminutive stature, playing the Artful Dodger in the West End stage musical Oliver!

He went on to land a Tony nomination when he transferred to Broadway in New York with the production. Jones and the rest of the cast were guests on The Ed Sullivan Show when The Beatles made their first appearance, with Beatlemania in full swing.

His feted performance upped his profile and led to a US management deal resulting in TV roles and a short-lived solo music career.

The contract also 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.

Jones recalled: "Ward Sylvester, the executive producer of The Monkees, was my manager at the time. We looked for different types of guys to be part of his idea for this TV show.

"Then Micky, Peter, Mike, and I were put together in one scene and everyone said, 'That's it - magic. We'll use you four."

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 such luminaries as Neil Diamond.

Despite criticism of the manufactured nature of the group, they had enough kudos to find their track (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone covered by The Sex Pistols a decade later.

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 - as well as writing their own songs.

And they upped their credibility on screen by including cameo appearances by figures such as Frank Zappa and Tim Buckley.

After their TV series ended, their partnership continued with the film Head - partly created by Jack Nicholson - which gave them cult psychedelic cool.

They survived as a trio when Tork left in early 1969 and then, following the departure of Nesmith, as a duo. It was Dolenz and Jones who had often taken the lead on their songs.

After calling it a day as The Monkees, the pair continued to work together in the group Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart and in a London stage production, The Point, in 1978.

Jones's heartthrob looks led to a jokey cameo in hit US comedy series The Brady Bunch, and over the years he took guest roles in shows such as Sabrina The Teenage Witch and Spongebob Squarepants.

Jones - whose established success led to an emerging namesake to adopt the name of David Bowie to avoid confusion - also tried further solo releases.

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!, taking the role as Fagin.

He also continued to have life-long love of riding and training horses, and achieved the long-held ambition of winning his first race in 1996 at Lingfield.