Michael Nesmith, known best for being the lead guitarist of the 1960s-era made-for-TV pop rock band The Monkees, died Friday at his home in California, the Associated Press reported. He was 78.
Nesmith’s death, which has been attributed to heart failure, comes just a few weeks after the musician concluded a farewell tour alongside bandmate Micky Dolenz, the drummer for the Monkees and now the sole surviving member.
Singer Davy Jones had died in 2012, according to the AP. Bassist and keyboardist Peter Tork died in 2019.
“I’ll miss it all”
According to the AP, Nesmith had long been struggling with heart problems and had undergone a quadruple bypass surgery in 2018.
Following his death, Dolenz had kind words for his bandmate.
“I’m so grateful that we could spend the last couple of months together doing what we loved best — singing, laughing, and doing shtick,” the drummer said. “I’ll miss it all so much. Especially the shtick.”
According to the AP, The Monkees got their start in 1966 as a made-for-TV band that became a sort of comical American version of The Beatles. The AP reported:
The show created by Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider featured the comical misadventures of a quartet that tooled around Los Angeles in a tricked-out Pontiac GTO called the MonkeeMobile and, when they weren’t chasing girls, pursued music stardom.
The show became hugely popular, spawning several hit songs over just two years, including three that made No. 1 on Billboard: “I’m a Believer,” “Daydream Believer,” and “Last Train to Clarksville,” according to the AP.
The band eventually broke up around 1970, and Nesmith went on to pursue a solo career in music as an innovative singer/songwriter and producer. He has even been credited with helping to inspire the creation of MTV in the early 1980s.
“He really went out on top”
In an interview with Variety, Monkees manager and producer Andrew Sandoval said the band’s final tour seemed to give Nesmith a new outlook on life, the band, and his legion of fans. The concerts were originally scheduled for 2020, but were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sandoval said Nesmith had “atrophied” during the lockdowns and struggled with performing at the start of the tour, missing a few of the initial rehearsals and even performing while seated for the first few shows.
“So he gained a lot of strength from the audience and from performing,” Sandoval told Variety. “His final show at the Greek Theatre was before 5,000 people, and it was joy,” he added. “So it was a very successful tour. He really went out on top, as far as that’s concerned.”