Michael Nesmith, a musician who gained international fame as a member of The Monkees, died on Friday, according to Variety. He was 78 years old. Nesmith, who died of natural causes, also appeared in the TV series titled The Monkees, which aired from 1966-1968.
"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, per Rolling Stone. "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."
During his time with The Monkees, Nesmith wrote notable songs such as "Mary, Mary," "Circle Sky," "Listen to the Band," and "The Girl I Knew Somewhere." A singer and guitarist, Nesmith was known for wearing a wool watch cap while the group was compared to The Beatles. The interesting thing is The Monkees had just as much success as the Beatles early on in their careers. Variety mentioned the Monkees' first two albums, The Monkees, and More of the Monkees were back-to-back No. 1 albums, holding the top of the chart for 31 consecutive weeks in 1966-67. Overall, The Monkees have released 13 studio albums with the last one released in 2018.
When the show was canceled in 1968, The Monkees, began to fall apart following a pair of failed albums. But Nesmith had success as a solo artist and being the frontman of the First National Band. Overall, Nesmith released 13 studio albums and a movie soundtrack. In a 2002 interview with Rolling Stone, Nesmith explained why he was so adamant that the Monkees write and record their own material.
"We were kids with our own taste in music and were happier performing songs we liked – and/or wrote – than songs that were handed to us," he said. "It made for a better performance. It was more fun. That this became a bone of contention seemed strange to me, and I think to some extent to each of us – sort of "what's the big deal – why won't you let us play the songs we are singing?" The Monkees consist of Nesmith, Peter Tork, Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones. Dolenz is the only surviving member as Jones died in 2012 and Tork died in 2019.