Michael Nesmith, a member of the 1960s pop group the Monkees, has died. “With Infinite Love we announce that Michael Nesmith has passed away this morning in his home, surrounded by family, peacefully and of natural causes,” his family said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “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.” Nesmith was 78 years old.
Born in Houston, Michael Nesmith was an up-and-coming musician when he auditioned to join the Monkees in 1965. He had written songs including ‘Different Drum’, which was later recorded by Linda Ronstadt’s group The Stone Poneys. Nesmith was hired alongside Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones, and Peter Tork to play in a sitcom about a fictional Beatles-style group and provide vocals on songs written by professional pop songwriters. Even before the Monkees began operating as a self-directed band, they had recorded several Nesmith originals. Amidst criticism that they weren’t a “real band,” the Monkees demanded they be allowed to play their own instruments and write their own songs, which they did on their third album, 1967’s Headquarters.
In 1968, while the Monkees were still active, Nesmith released his first solo album, The Wichita Train Whistle Sings. When the band broke up in 1970, he formed a country-rock group called the First National Band, releasing three albums between 1970 and 1971. In addition to his prolific career as a solo artist, he would go on to reunite with the Monkees multiple times over the years, including on their last two albums, 2016’s Good Times! and 2018’s Christmas Party. Just last month, Nesmith capped a farewell tour with Dolenz at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles.
“I know that Michael was at peace with his legacy which included songwriting, producing, acting, direction, and so many innovative ideas and concepts,” the Monkees 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.”