Monkees Star Michael Nesmith Dies at 78

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Michael Nesmith, member of the 1960s rock band the Monkees, passed away on Friday at the age of 78. According to Rolling Stone, his family states the musician died of natural causes. Nesmith penned many of the Monkees’ hit songs, including “Mary, Mary,” “Circle Sky,” “Listen to the Band,” and “The Girl I Knew Somewhere.” He was one of the pioneers behind the group parting ways with record producer Don Kirshner due to them not having creative control of their albums. After breaking free in 1967, the Monkees would successfully release more albums such as Headquarters. The original members consisted of Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, and Davy Jones.

“With infinite love we announce that Michael Nesmith has passed away this morning in his home, surrounded by family, peacefully and of natural causes,” Nesmith’s family said in a statement. “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.”

Rolling Stone also spoke to Nesmith in 2012, with the songwriter explaining the importance of the Monkees writing and recording their own music. “We were kids with our own taste in music and were happier performing songs we liked – and/or wrote – than songs that were handed to us,” he said. “It made for a better performance. It was more fun. That this became a bone of contention seemed strange to me, and I think to some extent to each of us — sort of “What’s the big deal, why won’t you let us play the songs we are singing?”

The Monkees were also the focus of their own popular TV show titled after the band that ran from 1966 to 1968. They broke up in the latter part of the ’60s, right before the Eagles broke in. Nesmith went on to create the First National Band, though it was hard for him to escape his Monkees fame.

“I was heartbroken beyond speech,” Nesmith told Rolling Stone in 2018. “I couldn’t even utter the words ‘the Eagles,’ and I loved Hotel California and I love the Eagles, the Flying Burrito Brothers, and the Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo, all that stuff. That was right in my wheelhouse, and I was agonized, Van Gogh-agonized, not to compare myself to him, but I wanted to cut something off because I was like, ‘Why is this happening?’ The Eagles now have the biggest-selling album of all time and mine is sitting in the closet of a closed record company?”

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The surviving Monkees recently performed together in a farewell tour earlier this year, with November 14th marking their final show in Los Angeles.

(Cover photo by: Paras Griffin/Getty Images)

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