Listen to Keefer weekday afternoons from 3pm-8pmFull Bio


The Monkees’ Michael Nesmith Dies at 78

The MonkeesMichael Nesmith has died, Rolling Stone reports. In a statement, Nesmith’s family said the musician died at home of natural causes. Just last month, Nesmith wrapped up a farewell tour, with Monkees bandmate Mickey Dolenz. Michael Nesmith was 78 years old.

“I know that Michael was at peace with his legacy which included songwriting, producing, acting, direction, and so many innovative ideas and concepts,” Monkees biographer and manager Andrew Sandoval wrote in a statement on, Facebook. “I am positive the brilliance he captured will resonate and offer the love and light towards which he always moved.”

Michael Nesmith, born in Houston, was an aspiring musician when auditioned to join the Monkees in 1965. The band was put together by TV producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider with the idea of doing a TV series about the adventures of a pop group. The music would be largely created by the songwriting and production team of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. Nesmith was hired alongside Dolenz, Davy Jones, and Peter Tork with the intention that they’d act in the TV series and provide vocals on the songs. Nesmith, however, shared some songs he’d written with producers. The Monkees were permitted to several Nesmith originals, and, ultimately, Nesmith amassed more songwriting credits than all the other members combined.

The Monkees aired on NBC in 1966, and, that year, the band earned No. 1 hits with “I’m a Believer” (written by Neil Diamond) and “Last Train to Clarksville” (written by Boyce and Hart). Seeking more autonomy in the face of widespread criticism that they weren’t a “real band,” Nesmith and the Monkees demanded that they be allowed to play their own instruments and write their own songs. They got their wish, and with their third album—1967’sHeadquarters—they played their own instruments and co-wrote songs as a band.

The next year, Nesmith recorded his first solo album, Wichita Train Whistle Songs. Following the band’s critically maligned 1968 fim, Head, and two more albums, Nesmith departed the Monkees in 1969. He started his own group, the First National Band, who released two new albums on RCA in 1970:Magnetic South and Loose Salute. He was a prolific solo artist, and over the years, he played reunion concerts with the Monkees and the First National Band.

Nesmith was also a pioneer of music videos. He created the first televised music video program,PopClips, which aired on Nickelodeon from 1980 to 1981. The show is widely credited as a direct predecessor to MTV. Nesmith was also behind the home video company Pacific Arts and was the executive producer behind a number of films (including, Repo Man). His memoir,I nfinite Tuesday, was released in 2017. On an episode of, Portlandia, Nesmith played the father of Portland’s mayor (Kyle MacLachlan).

Back in 2018, Nesmith was hospitalized, diagnosed with congestive heart failure, and underwent quadruple bypass heart surgery. He was forced to postpone a tour with Micky Dolenz as a result.

By Evan Minsker/Pitchfork

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content