The family says the pop songwriter for the 1960s chart-topping band died of natural causes at home.
Michael Nesmith, who achieved global fame as a member of the pop group Monkees, died at the age of 78.
“With undying love, we announce that Michael Nesmith passed away this morning in his home, surrounded by family, peacefully and from natural causes,” his family said in a statement. “We ask that you respect our privacy at this time and we appreciate the love and light that you all have shown him and us.”
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Nesmith’s manager Andrew Sandoval confirmed the news in a Twitter statement.
He said: “It is with deep sadness that I mark the passing of Michael Nesmith.
“We’ve shared a lot of travel and projects over 30 years, which culminated in a Monkees farewell tour that ended just a few weeks ago.”
Micky Dolenz, the last surviving member of the American band, also tweeted, saying, “I’m heartbroken. I’ve lost a dear friend and partner. laugh and make shtick.
I’ll miss everything. Mainly from the shtick. Rest in peace, Nez. With all my love, Micky.
Nesmith was the group’s guitarist, as well as one of its songwriters, for tracks such as The Girl I Knew Somewhere, Listen to the Band, and Mary, Mary.
With Nesmith teaming up with Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones and Peter Tork, the Monkees have had big hits, including US chart champions Daydream Believer and I’m a Believer, having formed for a TV sitcom about a rock’n band ‘roll. Nesmith successfully auditioned for the role of “Mike” on the show in October 1965, having started his music career as a folk music interpreter in Los Angeles.
The Monkees’ nature as a fabricated band became something of a millstone for the group, which crumbled in the late 1960s after their psychedelic film and album Head (Nesmith contributed music to Circle Sky). Nesmith left in 1970, after Tork left in 1968.
In recent months, he has performed on a reunion tour with the group. Nesmith avoided the band’s 20-year reunion in 1986, performing only in his hometown of Los Angeles. He only joined them occasionally until a more emphatic reunion in 1996, when the group recorded a new album, Justus. A tour the following year was the last time the quartet played together, before Jones’ death in 2012.
Tork’s death followed in 2019 and Nesmith and Dolenz began to perform as a duo, in recent months performing the Monkees Farewell Tour, which was originally planned for 2020 but was delayed by Covid.
In the wake of the Monkees’ initial split, Nesmith continued with a fruitful career. He formed the country rock group First National Band, which was successful with Joanne in 1970. His next group, a psychological rock group called Second National Band, featured José Feliciano on percussion, and he also released songs under his own name, including an acclaimed album of country ballads, And the Hits Just Keep on Comin’ (1972). He continued to release albums occasionally for the rest of his life, most recently The Ocean in 2015.
Other songs written by Nesmith became hits by other artists, such as Different Drum, one of the 20 biggest hits in the United States for the Stone Poneys with Linda Ronstadt. In 1988, rap group Run DMC covered Mary, Mary.
He also worked as a music producer and ran his own spinoff label for Elektra Records called Countryside. He successfully moved into TV production in the mid-1970s, eventually creating the MTV music video proto-show PopClips, and also had projects in Hollywood: he was executive producer of the satirical sci-fi film Repo Man , now considered one of the top cult films of the 1980s.