Michael Nesmith, singer, guitarist and keyboardist for the ’60s pop-rock band the Monkees, has died at the age of 78.
The news was revealed by Nesmith’s family, who issued a statement reading, “With Infinite Love we announce that Michael Nesmith has passed away this morning (Dec. 10) in his home, surrounded by family, peacefully and of natural causes. We ask that you respect our privacy at this time and we thank you for the love and light that all of you have shown him and us.”
With The Beatles finding success both in music and in film in the ’60s, the idea was presented in the early ’60s to develop a series based around a band and the foursome of Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones and Peter Tork were eventually cast as The Monkees, The musicians-actors then lead the TV series while also simultaneously releasing albums and touring.
Nesmith, the tallest member of the group, was often noticeable by wearing his woolen cap throughout the series’ run. As a member of the band, he wrote the songs “Mary, Mary,” “Circle Sky,” “Listen to the Band” and “The Girl I Knew Somewhere.” He also wrote “Different Drum,” a song that would later become a hit for Linda Rondstadt while she was with The Stone Poneys.
The Monkees, “Mary Mary”
The Monkees, “Listen to the Band”
Michael Nesmith, “Different Drum”
But behind the scenes of the show, the band members started to butt heads with record producer Don Kirshner, upset that they did not have control of their own music. Eventually, the group would break free and release their album Headquarters. They continued to release their own music largely of their own volition, but the original four started to splinter by the late ’60s. Tork resigned in 1968, Nesmith left in 1970 and the band eventually split in 1971.
After The Monkees, Nesmith went on to form First National Band, a group that released three classic country rock albums. The also had a Top 40 hit with the song “Joanne.” Nesmith would then focus on a solo career through the remainder of the ’70s before taking an interest in the video boom of the ’80s. He won the first Grammy for Long Form Video for the hour-long Elephant Parts in 1982 and had a short-lived NBC series called Michael Nesmith in Television Parts. Nesmith also got involved in movie producing, with his credits including Repo-Man and Tapeheads.
Though he initially balked at earlier Monkees reunions, Nesmith did revisit the Monkees in 1996 for a reunion run in support of their Justus LP. He also returned in 2012 after the death of Davy Jones and was part of the 2016 album Good Times.
Dolenz and Nesmith remained the two living members earlier this year when they played a farewell tour. You can see footage from their final performance at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles just last month below.
The Monkees Farewell Tour 2021 at Los Angeles’ Greek Theater
Rockers We’ve Lost in 2021
R.I.P. to the rockers who died in 2021.