Mike Nesmith, who was a member of the Monkees, one of the 1960s’ most popular music groups, has died at the age of 78.
Nesmith died Friday of natural causes, according to a statement released by his family to Rolling Stone:
“With Infinite Love we announce that Michael Nesmith has passed away this morning in his home, surrounded by family, peacefully and of natural causes,” the statement read. “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’s rise to fame began in 1966 when he was one of four men cast on “The Monkees,” a U.S. sitcom answer to the 1964 Beatles film, “A Hard Day’s Night.”
Already a published songwriter, Nesmith was known on the show for his wool cap, dry wit and insistence on musical integrity: He was the main driver behind the band’s eventual decision to take over writing and producing the band’s albums.
Although the band was dismissed by some as “the pre-fab four,” John Lennon was a fan and reportedly called the group “the greatest comic talents since the Marx Brothers,” according to NME.
But while the Monkees had to fight for the right to record and produce their own music, Nesmith was a successful songwriter outside of the band. He wrote “Different Drum,” a 1967 hit for the Stone Poneys, a folk-rock group that featured a young Linda Ronstadt.
After the Monkees broke up in the early 1970s, Nesmith focused on solo work mostly in the country rock genre and was also a pioneer in music videos.
In 1981, Nesmith co-wrote, starred in and produced “Elephants,” a collection of music and comedy that won the Grammy for Video of the Year and reportedly inspired the creation of MTV, according to Deadline.
Fellow Monkees members Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork reunited without Nesmith in 1986 for an album and tour, but their old friend did join them onstage during an encore at a Greek Theatre concert.
He returned to the band in 2012 after Jones’ death and participated in their 2016 comeback LP “Good Times!” After Tork died in 2012, Nesmith and Dolenz continued to tour as The Monkees Mike & Micky, according to the Associated Press.
Earlier this year, Dolenz released “Dolenz Sings Nesmith,” a tribute album to his friend and bandmate.
Nesmith was born Robert Michael Nesmith on Dec. 30, 1942, in Houston, Texas, the only child of Warren and Bette Nesmith.
His parents divorced when he was 4 and his mother often worked two jobs, as a secretary and painter, to support her son and herself.
Eventually, she created a typewriter correction fluid called Liquid Paper and sold it to Gillette for $49 million in 1979. Nesmith inherited the fortune a year later, according to Rolling Stone.
Nesmith was married and divorced three times, and is survived by four children, Christian, Jason, Jessica and Jonathan.
News of Nesmith’s death inspired many Twitter tributes, including one from Dolenz.
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