Former Monkees star Michael Nesmith dead at 78

UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: Photo of Monkees (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Most known as one of the four members of iconic 1960s pop group the Monkees, Michael Nesmith has died at the age of 78. His family announced the news that he had “passed away this morning in his home, surrounded by family, peacefully and of natural causes.” Nesmith died from heart failure at his home in Carmel Valley, California, on Friday, a spokesperson for record label Rhino confirmed to BBC News.

Nesmith’s passing comes just weeks after the Monkees — originally consisting of Nesmith, drummer Micky Dolenz, bassist Peter Tork, and vocalist Davy Jones — reunited for a farewell tour in November. As the group’s manager Andrew Sandoval said in a Facebook post:

“That tour was a true blessing for so many. And in the end I know that Michael was at peace with his legacy which included songwriting, producing, acting, direction and so many innovative ideas and concepts. I am positive the brilliance he captured will resonate and offer the love and light towards which he always moved.”

Dolenz has also reacted to the sad news on Twitter. “I’m heartbroken. I’ve lost a dear friend and partner,” he wrote.

Created as America’s answer to the Beatles, the Monkees banded together for their own self-titled TV show, which ran for two seasons from 1966-68. Though they were a manufactured band who started out performing songs written for them, the group went on to take full control of their music. They are remembered for such tunes as “Daydream Believer,” “I’m A Believer,” and “The Monkees” title theme. Nesmith was a singer and guitarist for the band and penned various numbers for the group, including “Listen To The Band,” “Sunny Girlfriend,” and “Tapioca Tundra.”

After the Monkees split in 1969, Nesmith landed two US chart hits with his First National band. He also wrote the hit song “Different Drum” for singer Linda Ronstadt. However, his most notable post-Monkees achievement is probably the concept of a TV show consisting of promo clips for music videos that he developed in the late 1970s. Nesmith sold the idea to Time Warner, who transformed it into MTV.

Michael Nesmith’s passing comes nearly three years after the death of Peter Tork at the age of 77 in early 2019.