Michael Nesmith of The Monkees Dies at 78

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(L-R): Peter Tork, Michael Nesmith, Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz from a 1967 episode of The Monkees TV series (via their Facebook page)

Michael Nesmith, who first came to widespread acclaim as one of the four members of The Monkees, died December 10, 2021. Rolling Stone reported that the 78-year-old died of a heart ailment at his home in Carmel Valley, Calif.

On Nov. 14, at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, he and bandmate Micky Dolenz had completed what was billed as the Monkees’ Farewell Tour. The run was supposed to begin in April 2020 but the shows were postponed, twice, due to the pandemic. Nesmith‘s death leaves Dolenz, 76, as the lone surviving member. Peter Tork died in 2019 at age 77. Davy Jones was the first to pass. He died in 2012 at age 66.

“I’m heartbroken,” wrote Dolenz on his social media pages. “I’ve lost a dear friend and partner. I’m so grateful that we could spend the last couple of months together doing what we loved best – singing, laughing, and doing shtick.”

Related: Other tributes to Nesmith

In 2018, Nez, as he was called, underwent quadruple bypass heart surgery after he was hospitalized with four dates remaining of his and Dolenz‘s “The Mike and Micky Show.”

“I love being on stage with Micky,” he said in a press release prior to the launch of the 2018 tour. “We’ve been collaborating for over 50 years, so it’s hard to believe it’s never been just the two of us.”

Watch the last performances of the duo’s final concert

Related: Our review of Nesmith and Dolenz’ 2021 farewell tour

Nesmith, born in Houston, Tex., on Dec. 30, 1942, was already an established singer and songwriter on the burgeoning Los Angeles folk scene when he auditioned for, and got, a spot in the made-for-TV band after answering an ad in the Hollywood trade paper Variety for “4 insane boys.”

Related: Musician deaths of 2021

His songwriting accomplishments include “Different Drum,” a 1967 hit for Linda Ronstadt and her singing group at the time, the Stone Poneys. The Monkees recorded many of Nesmith’s compositions including “Mary, Mary,” “The Girl I Knew Somewhere” and “Papa Gene’s Blues.”

He was frequently pictured wearing his trademark wool cap, even in the TV sitcom’s intro.

As the Monkees wound down in the late ’60s, Nesmith formed the pioneering country-rock group The First National Band, which scored a #21 single in 1970 with “Joanne.”

Listen to Nesmith’s alternate version of “Different Drum” with The First National Band

In 1974, he started the multimedia company Pacific Arts, which released both audio and groundbreaking video projects. He won the first Grammy Award given for long-form music video in 1982, for his hour-long Elephant Parts. Following that, he launched a series on NBC called Michael Nesmith in Television Parts. Nesmith also served as the executive producer of several films, including Repo Man.

During his career, he released more than a dozen solo studio albums and a half dozen live albums.

Related: Links to 100s of current classic rock tours

Through 2021, The Monkees have been continued to be overlooked for induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2016, Best Classic Bands asked Nesmith to comment. Ever gracious, he said, “I appreciate the bands they have acknowledged but no, I’m not bothered about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s more of a business than a museum, more about ticket sales and TV shows than anything else. I count it as no great loss to the world that they don’t acknowledge the Monkees. It’s their call, not the public’s.”

Related: Here We Come… Our look back at The Monkees’ spectacular first year

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  1. v2787
    #1 v2787 10 December, 2021, 15:20

    This is sad, but it’s hardly a surprise if you saw any pictures or video of Nesmith during that last tour with Micky Dolenz. Mike Nesmith looked like death warmed over when he was onstage. You could tell he was on his last legs. He was a talented guy, and now we’re down to one Monkee.

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  2. Guy Smiley
    #2 Guy Smiley 10 December, 2021, 20:36

    I was fortunate enough to see Nez, with Micky, in concert just a few weeks ago.

    He looked frail, and wasn’t playing guitar anymore, but his voice was strong, and he looked happy to be there. Terrific show.

    So saddened by the news. One of the great, underheralded songwriters of the past 60 years. Sharp, witty, wildly talented and creative guy.

    Singer, songwriter, musician, actor, country-rock pioneer, music video pioneer, film producer, multimedia visionary, author…

    Is that enough for one lifetime?

    RIP, Papa Nez. You will be missed.

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  3. Yvette
    #3 Yvette 11 December, 2021, 01:48

    I Grew Up Watching the Monkees… Always Tuned to Weekly TV Program… I Loved Watching them ALL… Michael Nesmith will be Forever Missed and Remembered as One of the Monkees and his Involvement with other Musical Endeavors…. GREAT MUSICIAN…
    RIP MIKE**

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  4. Foundstar
    #4 Foundstar 11 December, 2021, 05:16

    The Monkees were the result of a time and place hatched by Corporate suits who wanted to cash in on the ‘Wild 60’s’. It worked. We/they had fun.

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  5. mick62
    #5 mick62 11 December, 2021, 05:36

    God bless you, Mike. Thanks for all the great music.
    R. I. P.

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  6. Michael
    #6 Michael 11 December, 2021, 12:48

    Sad day, indeed. So many layers to this man’s life and legacy. Apart from his creative output, he was quite the philosopher. I highly recommend Infinite Tuesday to anyone interested – it’s honest, good-humored, and a charming low-key joy. He operated in a different, deeper realm of consciousness than most of us realized, and we were lucky to have him around in the fringes of our lives. A true loss.

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  7. davhop63
    #7 davhop63 15 December, 2021, 08:07

    Michael Nesmith was a genius, he pioneered early video production and film music. I enjoyed his sorely overlooked solo career and own a couple of his career retrospectives. My father also had quintuple bypass surgery earlier this year and had that ghostly pale exhausted look that appeared to me like what Nesmith was suffering from. He seemed to have aged badly the last couple of years….He will be missed

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