Michael Nesmith, best known for his work as part of beloved 60s pop group The Monkees, has passed away at the age of 78 from heart failure. Tributes have poured in for the songwriter, guitarist, producer, and actor, from fellow musicians and fans alike.
Fellow Monkee, and now the last surviving member of the group, Micky Dolenz, posted a touching tribute to his friend on Twitter, writing, “I’m heartbroken. I’ve lost a dear friend and partner. I’m so grateful that we could spend the last couple of months together doing what we loved best – singing, laughing, and doing shtick. I’ll miss it all so much. Especially the shtick.”
I’ve lost a dear friend and partner.
I’m so grateful that we could spend the last couple of months together doing what we loved best – singing, laughing, and doing shtick.
I’ll miss it all so much. Especially the shtick.
Rest in peace, Nez.
All my love,
— Micky Dolenz (@TheMickyDolenz1) December 10, 2021
Nesmith had undergone quadruple bypass heart surgery in 2018, and remained hospitalised for a month following the surgery. As a result, he was forced to cancel several tour dates with Dolenz, but the pair were able to perform together on several tour dates this year instead.
The pair had wrapped up their farewell tour with a performance at Los Angeles’ Greek Theatre on November 14, and fans who were there were quick to express their gratitude for being able to see Nesmith perform one last time.
I will forever be thankful to #MichaelNesmith & @TheMickyDolenz1 for giving @TheMonkees such a beautiful and loving farewell until just days ago. There was nothing prefab about the love they shared with all of us daydream believers pic.twitter.com/mpcsOP24hB
— David Wild (@Wildaboutmusic) December 10, 2021
Micky spoke to Rolling Stone soon after the news broke, saying, “I found out a couple days ago that he was going into hospice. I knew what that meant. I had my moment then and I let go. I let go a couple days ago. It’s just good to know that he passed peacefully.” Micky said of their farewell tour, “I’m so glad that we did that tour. He was so looking forward to that, and such a trooper through the whole thing. A tour is tough if you’re in the best of health. He just really loved it. He really loved doing it.”
For the Monkees, Nesmith wrote songs such as ‘Sunny Girlfriend’, ‘Mary, Mary’, and ‘Listen to the Band’, but perhaps one of his most successful songwriting efforts was ‘Different Drum’, which The Stone Poneys took to the top 20 of the Billboard charts in 1967.
Many fellow musicians paid tribute to Nesmith, including Ringo Starr, who wrote, “God bless Mike Nesmith peace and love to all his family. 😎✌️🌟❤️🎵🎶🌈☮️” alongside a photo of the two in their heyday.
God bless Mike Nesmith peace and love to all his family. 😎✌️🌟❤️🎵🎶🌈☮️ pic.twitter.com/GYnokygcHG
— #RingoStarr (@ringostarrmusic) December 11, 2021
Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys also paid tribute, tweeting, “I’m sorry to hear about Mike Nesmith. The Monkees had some great songs, those were fun days. Love & Mercy to Mike’s family and friends, Brian”. Stevie van Zandt, guitarist for Bruce Springsteen and Silvio Dante on The Sopranos, tweeted, “RIP Mike Nesmith. He lives forever in the Underground Garage.”
I’m sorry to hear about Mike Nesmith. The Monkees had some great songs, those were fun days. Love & Mercy to Mike’s family and friends, Brian pic.twitter.com/bqJHBpb7il
— Brian Wilson (@BrianWilsonLive) December 10, 2021
Songwriter and lead singer of Death Cab For Cutie, Ben Gibbard, who wrote the song ‘Me & Magdalena’ that served as the third single off The Monkee’s first album in 20 years, Good Times!, performed covers of his favourite Nesmith songs for his fans, including ‘Joanne’, ‘Different Drum’, and ‘Me & Magdalena’.
Andrew Sandoval, who has managed Nesmith and The Monkees for the past decade, told Variety, that after The Monkees had been “lambasted for decades”, “he died knowing that they were beloved, and he finally embraced what they meant to so many other people. I think he finally got it.”
Following the dissolution of The Monkees in 1970, Nesmith made waves with The First National Band, prompting The Washington Post to write that Nesmith “invented country rock, or maybe something even better.” Nesmith also performed as a solo artist, and worked as an executive producer in Hollywood, most notably for the 1984 cult classic Repo Man.
Image: Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer
This article first appeared on Over60.