Michael Nesmith, The Monkees Singer and Guitarist, Dies at 78

by Clayton Edwards
(Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Television producers brought The Monkees together for a sitcom of the same name. This led to many calling them “The Pre-Fab Four,” referencing their manufactured lineup as well as their sonic resemblance to The Beatles. However, actual talented musicians rounded out the band’s lineup and Michael Nesmith was at the forefront. He was the band’s guitarist and lead vocalist.

Michael Nesmith Passed Away This Morning

Deadline reports that Michael Nesmith passed away this morning in his home. The singer and guitarist died of natural causes at the age of 78, according to a statement from Nesmith’s family. They confirmed his passing this morning.

About Nesmith’s passing, his family said, “With Infinite Love we announce that Michael Nesmith has passed away this morning in his home, surrounded by family, peacefully and of natural causes.”

Addressing the Monkees star’s fans, his family said, “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.”

The Monkees’ Farewell Tour

The Monkees embarked on a farewell tour this fall. Additionally, the tour commemorated the band’s 55th anniversary. Unfortunately, two of the original Monkees had already passed away before they could get on the road and monkey around one more time. Davy Jones and Peter Tork, half of the original lineup died in 2012 and 2019, respectively. As a result, Mickey Dolenz and Michael Nesmith were the only original members on the tour.

Fortunately, they played their final show at LA’s Greek Theater on November 14th. So, it looks like Nesmith got to feel the warmth of the stage lights and the love of the crowd before he passed.  

Nesmith: More Than a Monkee

The world at large remembers Micheal Nesmith as the frontman of The Monkees. The pop-rock quartet was huge for their short-lived original run. However, there was more to Nesmith musically than that band would allow. In fact, some see him as one of the pioneers of country rock. Those fans put him up there with Gram Parsons,

In 1970, Nesmith struck out on his own and formed The First National Band. Like The Byrds and other better-known country-rock bands, The First National Band combined country music with psychedelic rock. However, some tracks came out sounding more like country songs than anything rock-infused.

Check out Michael Nesmith and the First National Band’s first and highest-charting single below. “Joanne” peaked at number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. You can hear the country influence in Nesmith’s vocals in the track. Several times, he comes close to breaking into a yodel. Additionally, the instrumental arrangement has country music at its core. An acoustic guitar lays the backdrop for lonesome pedal steel. It’s a far cry from “Hey Hey We’re the Monkees,” that’s for sure.