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Monkees singer-songwriter dies at 78

Michael Nesmith, the singer-songwriter for the ’60s rock band The Monkees, died on Friday at the age of 78.

Nesmith died of natural causes at his home in Carmel Valley, Calif., his family said in a statement obtained by The Associated Press and other outlets. In 2018, he had undergone quadruple bypass surgery.

“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.

The Monkees were known for popular songs like “I’m a Believer,” “Mary, Mary,” and “Daydream Believer,” with their greatest hits mostly penned by Nesmith, a Texas native doubly known for his southern accent and the wool hat he wore.

The band also launched a hit TV show, “The Monkees,” which ran from 1966 to 1968. Nesmith was a rebellious mind on and off of set, wrestling for musical control of the band’s albums from record producers, according to his biography.

Nesmith is the third member of The Monkees to die, following Davy Jones in 2012 and Peter Tork in 2019.

Tributes poured in for Nesmith after news of his death was announced, including from Micky Dolenz, the only surviving member of the band.

“I’m heartbroken. I’ve lost a dear friend and partner,” he wrote on Twitter. “Rest in peace, Nez.”

Brian Wilson, the singer-songwriter who co-founded the Beach Boys, also paid tribute on Friday.

“The Monkees had some great songs, those were fun days,” he wrote on Twitter.

Nesmith was born in 1942 in Houston. As a young adult, he spent two years in the U.S. Air Force but was fascinated by folk and pop music. He later moved to Memphis, Tenn., where he recorded singles, including “Different Drum,” which became a hit after the group Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys covered it in 1967.

Nesmith auditioned for The Monkees in 1965. The group soared to the top of the charts with albums like “Headquarters The Monkees” and “More of the Monkees.”

After The Monkees broke up in the late ’60s, Nesmith sang for The First National Band and launched a solo career without much success. He also produced more film and TV segments.

The Monkees never fully reunited, though Nesmith at times returned to tour and play with the group.

In 2013, Nesmith recalled his time with The Monkees to Rolling Stone magazine. In the interview, he said it was “a great time of my life.”

“It was a nice part of the résumé. It was fun for me,” he said. “I mean, where do you want be in the ’60s except the middle of rock and roll, hanging out with the scene? London was an absolute blast, and so was L.A. back then. There was so much going on back then.”

Tags California Michael Nesmith

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