Michael Nesmith, wool hat-wearing member of The Monkees, dies at 78Miriam Di Nunzioon December 10, 2021 at 7:35 pm

The Monkees featured Peter Tork (from left), Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones and Michael Nesmith. | (C) Everett Collection / Rex Feat

Nesmith died peacefully in his sleep Friday morning, according to a family statement.

Michael Nesmith, the singer-songwriter and guitarist of the 1960s-70s pop group the Monkees, has died. He was 78.

According to a family statement published by Rolling Stone on Friday, Nesmith “passed away this morning in his home, surrounded by family, peacefully and of natural causes. … We thank you for the love and light that all of you have shown him and us.”

Nesmith was one of four young musician-singers brought together in 1965 specifically to create the Monkees, a pop-rock group, for a TV sitcom of the same name. The group featured drummer Micky Dolenz, keyboardist-bassist Peter Tork, and lead singer Davy Jones. Jones passed away in 2019, Jones in 2012.

The avant garde series, created by Bob Raefelson and Bert Schneider, followed the day-to-day doings of a struggling band who lived together in an oceanfront California apartment while trying to make it big in the music business. The half-hour episodes featured the foursome embroiled in preposterous situations that resolved amid music videoesque escapades featuring their original songs performed and played by the four stars. The show ran from 1966 to 1968 but yielded a cult following of fans and sold-out concerts (a la Beatles) across the globe.

For the Monkees, Nesmith famously penned “Mary, Mary,” “Listen to the Band” and “The Girl I Knew Somewhere.” One of Nesmith’s biggest songwriting credits outside the Monkees was “Different Drum” recorded most famously by Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys in 1967.

After the Monkees’ official breakup in 1970 (following the departure of Tork and Nesmith a few years earlier), the four musicians pursued solo careers with Jones perhaps enjoying the biggest success. Reunion tours featuring various groupings of Jones, Tork and Dolenz, followed in subsequent years, with Nesmith preferring to opt out. He joined Tork and Dolenz for a tour in 2012 in the wake of Jones’ passing.

Most recently, Nesmith and Dolenz reunited for a Monkees Farewell Tour, which brought them to the Rosemont Theatre in November. (See video below) The tour played its final date on Nov. 14 in Los Angeles.

Born Robert Michael Nesmith in 1942 in Houston, Texas, Nesmith enlisted in the Air Force when he was 18, where he trained as an aircraft mechanic, according to his Wikipedia biography. Following his discharge, he moved to Los Angeles where he would craft his career in music.

According to his memoir, in 1979, Nesmith began production on a weekly comedy/music video TV program titled PopClips, which aired for two years on Nickelodeon. “Audio records are played on radio, so a video record should be played on video — on television,” he wrote. The show (sans Nesmith, who moved on to other projects) helped launch MTV in 1981.

Interestingly, Nesmith wasn’t the only one in his family to achieve widespread success. His mom, Bette Nesmith Graham, a typist and commercial artist in the 1950s and ’60s, was the inventor of Mistake, a white correction fluid that would be renamed Liquid Paper. It ultimately became a multi-million-dollar company for her family and the “best friend” to typewriter enthusiasts around the world for decades.

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