Monkees co-founder Michael Nesmith has died aged 78

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Monkees star Michael Nesmith died of heart failure at his home in Carmel Valley, Calif. He was 78 years old.

“With infinite love, we announce that Michael Nesmith passed away this morning in his home surrounded by family, peacefully and from natural causes,” Nesmith’s family members said today in a statement. official statement. “We ask that you respect our privacy at this time, and we thank you for the love and the light you have all shown to him and to us.”

His heart problems go back a few years. The Monkees postponed a series of tour dates to 2018, after Nesmith was rushed to the doctor as he experienced what he described as “agonizing” shortness of breath. “When we got to Lake Tahoe and then to the high elevation of Denver,” Nesmith said later Rolling stone, “I couldn’t get out of bed and I couldn’t breathe.”

Nesmith was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, requiring quadruple heart bypass surgery. He spent six days in intensive care, but eventually returned to music.

It had been a journey full of twists and turns. As a member of the Monkees, Nesmith rose to fame singing and performing the songs of others as part of a Beatles-style group reunited for a hit NBC comedy series from the late ’60s. But he was still intended. See you more, though TV and studio costumes – and in particular Monkees iron-fisted manager Don Kirshner – couldn’t see it yet.

Nesmith came up with a 1965 demo called “Different Drum”, hoping the Monkees would record the track. But initially they didn’t have much to say about what they were recording, and instead, they saw a 1967 version of the Stone Ponies propel a then-unknown singer by the name of Linda Ronstadt to star status: “Different Drum” went to # 13 on the Billboard graphic.

“He played it for [producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider] and they said, ‘Oh, that’s good but it’s not a Monkees song.’ “said band member Micky Dolenz. Cave Rocher in 2021. “And Nez said, ‘Wait a minute, I’m one of the Monkees.’ And they said, “Yeah, yeah, it’s okay. Thanks but no thanks. It’s not a Monkees song.”

Hear Michael Nesmith play “Different Drum”

Nesmith would eventually break free from the Monkees’ television debut to become a full-fledged musical pioneer with the First National Band, but only after leading an internal rebellion to wrest creative control from Kirshner. They emerged from these battles with the years 1967 Headquarter, the Monkees’ debut album created by the band itself.

“We were kids with our own musical tastes and were happier performing songs we loved – and / or wrote – than songs we were entrusted with,” Nesmith said. Rolling stone in 2012. “This enabled better performance; it was more fun. That this was becoming a bone of contention struck me as odd, and I think of all of us to some extent – sort of “What’s the matter? Why don’t you wanna play the songs we sing? ‘”

Nesmith went on to compose some of the Monkees’ most beloved tracks, including favorite tracks like “Listen to the Band”, “Mary, Mary”, “The Girl I Knew Somewhere” and “Circle Sky”, before becoming a revolutionary figure. in country rock. He officially ended his tenure with the Monkees in an advertisement in April 1970 for the Kool-Aid and Nerf balls. Fittingly, Nesmith signed off saying “Enerf of Enerf! “

By that time, the band had released four albums since the Monkees’ TV show ceased airing in 1968 – including the soundtrack of To manage, who found the group making the jump to the theaters. Yet they continued to be defined by the program’s thin characterizations – and that was especially difficult for Nesmith, who always boasted of much higher musical aspirations.

“We were all very tired and the show was starting to repeat itself,” Nesmith told the Republic of Arizona in 2018. “Things like monkeys show have a specific lifespan, and when it’s over, it’s over – left to the story to assess. However, he never dies. “

He had actually started working on five of the songs from the early days of the First National Band, titled Magnetic south, while still with the Monkees – including “Hollywood,” which he demoed for Headquarter. First National Band bassist John London performed on Monkees’ earlier songs and appeared as an extra on their TV show; Pedal-steel guitarist Red Rhodes sat on the Monkees’ “Steam Engine”, among other tracks.

But the First National Band boldly developed casual roots dishes like ‘Sunny Girlfriend’ from the 1968s. To manage. Performing with a roster completed by drummer John Ware, Nesmith quickly caught the attention of Gram Parsons, another follower of the genre. Soon the First National Band was opening act for Parsons’ newly formed Flying Burrito Brothers.

At first they didn’t even know what to call him. “I had no notion of country rock as a possible genre, although we used the phrase among ourselves as members of the First National Band,” Nesmith said. Gold mine in 2013. “It was more to frame and focus a playing feel. We weren’t aware that it was innovative. It was fun to play like that, and there was a lot to be said with that, and we have enjoyed listening to it, to each other. “

Hear the first national band play ‘Joanne

Unfortunately, he couldn’t take this new musical concept beyond the shadow of the Monkees. The First National Band’s debut single, “Joanne” showed great promise, reaching number 21 in the United States. Sadly, Magnetic south did not follow him on the Billboard only reaching number 143. The First National Band broke up before bands like the Flying Burrito Brothers, Eagles and Byrds introduced the emerging country-rock sound to mainstream audiences.

Stung, Nesmith began to distance himself from the music. But he remained a trailblazer even when only partially engaged, setting new standards in music video. Sure, monkeys show created something of a model for MTV decades before the network started. But Nesmith filmed one of the first high-profile music videos for his late ’70s song “Rio”, then claimed the very first Grammy-year video in 1982 for a collection of music videos titled Elephant parts.

He flatly refused to participate in the Monkees’ first reunions – including their much-publicized 20th anniversary tour, appearing for only one encore in 1986 at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. Instead, Nesmith leveraged a legacy from his mother, Liquid Paper inventor Bette Nesmith Graham, to fund several subsequent commercial ventures, including films like Reading heads and Man rest.

Attracted by the Monkees for the years 1996 Only U.S, Nesmith clearly intended to stay clear again. Then his bandmate Davy Jones died in 2012. Nesmith briefly joined the others on the road, then attended sessions for the famous 2016’s. Good time! reunion album.

Like with Only U.S, he chose not to shoot behind the project. Then another death in the Monkees family, Peter Tork in 2019, changed Nesmith’s mind once again – this time, for good. He began to regularly join Dolenz for famous duo dates. They had just finished a farewell tour of the Monkees.

Public relations manager Jason Elzy of Rhino Records, the Monkees’ label, has confirmed cause of death.

“I am heartbroken. I have lost a dear friend and partner,” Dolenz said in an official statement. “I’m so grateful that we were able to spend the last two months together doing what we loved the most – singing, laughing and shticking. I will miss all of this so much. Especially the shtick. Rest in peace, Nose.”

In Memoriam: 2021 deaths

Remember the musicians, actors, producers and others who passed away in 2021.


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