Sydney, 2021-12-10 14:30:35. Monkees singer Michael Nesmith dies, aged 78
LOS ANGELES — Michael Nesmith, the singer-songwriter, author, actor, director and entrepreneur most likely to be remembered as the woolly-hatred, guitar-playing member of the made-for-television rock band The Monkees, has died at 78.
His family said in a statement that Nesmith, who underwent quadruple bypass surgery in 2018, died of natural causes at his home in Carmel Valley near California’s Central Coast.
Nesmith was a struggling singer-songwriter in September 1966 when his television appearances “The Monkees” and fellow band members Mickey Dollins, Peter Turck and David Jones made him rock stars overnight.
Dolenz, the band’s last surviving member who completed a farewell tour with Nesmith last month, said on Instagram that he had lost a dear friend and partner.
“I am so grateful that we have been able to spend the past two months together doing what we love best – singing, laughing, and doing brilliantly,” Dolenz said. “I will miss them all so much. Especially shtick.”
After the group’s breakup in 1970, Nesmith transitioned into a long and innovative career, not only as a musician but as a writer, producer, film director, author of several books, president of a media arts company and music creator. The video format that led to the creation of MTV.
Nesmith was running “Scream Nights” at the popular West Hollywood nightclub The Troubadour when he saw a commercial looking for “Four Crazy Boys” to play rock musicians in a Beatles-style band.
Created by Bob Raffelson and Burt Schneider, the show featured the comedic adventures of a foursome who drove around Los Angeles in a Pontiac GT or duped called the MonkeeMobile, and when they weren’t chasing girls, they pursued musical stardom.
Each episode featured two or three new songs from the Monkees, six of which became Billboard’s Top 10 hits over the show’s two-year run. Three more, “I’m a Believer,” “Day Dream Believer” and “The Last Train to Clarksville,” reached number one. They had four number one albums in 1967 alone.
Jones, with his British accent and pretty boyish looks, was the gentleman lead singer of the group. Dolenz became an idiot drummer, although he had to learn to play the drums as the show went on. Tork, a folk rock musician, portrayed the bassist as Ignorance as a comedian. Nesmith, with his reclusive Texas accent and the fleece hat he wore to audition, became a serious, naive guitarist.
Deceitful by nature, he arrived at the audition with a guitar and a bag of dirty clothes that he said he intended to wash immediately afterward. With a harmonica around his neck, he stormed into the casting office, and slammed the door loudly. Having stopped to look at a painting as if it were a mirror, he immediately sat down and raised his feet on a desk.
He got the job.
But he almost immediately rebelled when producers told him they were going to call his character a “wool hat.” He demanded that they use his real name, as they did with the other actors.
This will be the first of many that Nesmith will have with producers during the turbulent two-year period in which “Monkees” won the 1967 Emmy Award for Best Comedy Series.
Nesmith and Turk, the group’s most successful musicians, criticized the program’s refusal to allow them to play their own instruments in recording sessions. But when Nesmith revealed this fact to reporters, music critics quickly turned to “The Monkees,” dismissing the show as fraudulent and the band as “Prefab Four,” an ironic reference to the Beatles’ nickname, Fab Four.
Meanwhile, Nesmith wrote several songs he hoped to debut on the show, but music producer Don Kirshner rejected nearly all of them, as being country looks too.
Among them was Linda Ronstadt’s hit “Different Drum” in 1967 that validated Nesmith’s opinion that Kirshner, praised by the pop industry as “The Man With The Golden Ear,” didn’t know what he was doing. He was talking about.
Things came to a head when the four Monkees demanded control of the music. They were warned that they would be sued for breach of contract.
At that time, Nesmith got up from his seat and smashed his fist into the wall, telling Kirchner it could have been his face.
For years, Nesmith would refuse to confirm or deny the incident, even as the other three gleefully recounted it to reporters. In his 2017 memoir, “Infinite Tuesday,” he admitted this, saying he lost his temper when he felt his integrity was questioned.
“It was a ridiculous moment in many ways,” he wrote.
However, it has given the Monkees control of their music, starting with the group’s third album, “HQ”.
After the show ended in 1968, the band embarked on an extended concert tour where the members sang many of their own songs and played their own instruments in front of crowds of fans. Jimi Hendrix was sometimes their opening show.
After the band’s breakup, Nesmith rarely returned to the others on reunion tours, leading many to believe that he hated the band and the show, something he vehemently denied.
“I really enjoyed being on the show. I really enjoyed working with Davey, Mickey and Peter,” he told Australian Musician in 2019.
He would often say he was simply too busy doing other things.
Over the years he has recorded over a dozen albums and toured with First National, the popular country rock group he put together.
He wrote dozens of songs, including “Some of Shelly’s Blues,” “Papa Gene’s Blues,” “You Just May Be the One,” and “The Girl I Know Somewhere,” which he sang with the Monkees. Among others, who sang with the national band The first, “Joanne”, “Propinquity (I’m Just Starting Interest)” and “Different Drum”.
On the Monkees’ 30th anniversary, he urged others to reunite to record a new album, “Justus,” the four of which composed songs and played instruments. He also rejoined the others on a short tour and wrote and directed their 1997 TV movie reunion, “Hey, Hey, It’s the Monkees.”
Nesmith also wrote and produced the 1982 science fiction film “Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann” and earned executive producer credits on “Repo Man,” “Tape Heads,” and other films.
His 1981 comedy and musical “Elephant Parts” earned a Grammy Award and led to “PopClips,” a series of music videos broadcast on the Nickelodeon cable network that in turn led to the creation of MTV.
Smith even published two well-received novels, 1998’s “The Long Sandy Hair of Neftoon Zamora” and 2009’s “The America Gene.”
In 1999, he was victorious in a bitter courtroom battle with the Public Broadcasting System over the royalties of a home video deal, which his media company, Pacific Arts, entered into with PBS. A federal jury awarded him $48 million, concluding that the popular provider of children’s shows and documentaries had defrauded him.
Showing that he hadn’t lost the Monkees’ sense of humor, Nesmith said afterwards, “It’s like catching your grandmother stealing your stereo. You’re happy to get your stereo back, but sad to find out that Grandma is a thief.”
The two sides agreed to an undisclosed settlement and Nesmith founded another company, VideoRunch.
After Jones’ death in 2012, he began joining the Monkees more frequently, and their concerts have now garnered glowing reviews from critics. He attributed this to the death or retirement of the group’s original critics.
After Turk’s death in 2019, Nesmith and Dollins took on the name Monkees Mike & Micky.
Nesmith and Dollins concluded his “Farewell Monkees Tour” at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles after touring the United States.
Dolenz told the audience that Neese once encouraged him to write songs, saying, “That’s where the money is.”
“Boy, I wish you had listened,” Dolens said.
“God bless you all,” said Nesmith, who wore a white suit and walked off stage several times during the show, during a standing ovation for “I’m a Believer,” the closing number.
“That tour was a real boon for many,” Monkees Director Andrew Sandoval said on Facebook. “In the end I know Michael was at peace with his legacy.”
Robert Michael Nesmith was born on December 30, 1942, in Houston, Texas, the only child of Warren and Pete Nesmith.
His parents divorced when he was four and his mother often worked two jobs, as a secretary and a painter, to support her son and herself. It was that last job that inspired her to prepare a typewriter correction fluid called Liquid Paper in her kitchen blender. By the mid-1970s, she had earned a fortune that she eventually left to her son and to the non-profit foundations she gave to promoting women in business and the arts.
Her son, who has been married and divorced three times, lives with four children, Christian, Jason, Jessica and Jonathan.
Former Associated Press writer John Rogers was the lead writer on the story.
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