Monkees’ Michael Nesmith Dies: Rockers React
Michael Nesmith, original member of the Monkees, died on Dec. 10 of natural causes. He was 78.
“With Infinite Love we announce that Michael Nesmith has passed away this morning in his home, surrounded by family, peacefully and of natural causes,” his family said in a statement released on Friday. “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, who contributed songs like “Mary, Mary,” “Circle Sky,” “Listen to the Band” and “The Girl I Knew Somewhere” to the Monkees catalog, also saw success with his solo group, First National Band, which he formed in 1969 with John Kuehne, John Ware and Red Rhodes.
The Monkees first disbanded in 1971, but reunited multiple times with various lineups. “We always did Nez tunes, even when he wasn’t with us onstage, Peter [Tork] and David [Jones] and I," Micky Dolenz told UCR in 2020. "We’d always do a lot of the Nez tunes. But having Nez out there with me, doing the tunes, has really been wonderful.”
In recent years, Nesmith admitted he had been dealing with cardiac issues, but felt committed to continuing to play live. "I had that heart attack about three tours ago. I thought, 'That was my farewell tour!'" Nesmith said to Rolling Stone at the end of 2019. "They took my heart out and put it through the washer and dryer and put it back in and it all works good again. I started thinking, 'I’m healthy. I know how this music goes. I can play it well. I can sing it well. Go out there and do it.' And that’s what we do. We’re coming to your town. And I’m going to play as long as I can. And when I can’t, I won’t."
Last month, Nesmith and Dolenz concluded an official farewell tour.
As news of Nesmith's death became public, fellow musicians including Paul Stanley, Slash, Carole King and Brian Wilson took to social media to pay tribute to the former Monkee. You can read their reactions below.