Michael Nesmith, Monkees Singer and Songwriter, Dies at 78

Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith on the set of the television show The Monkees in August 1967 in Los Angeles, California.
Getty Images

According to his family, Michael died of natural causes.

Michael Nesmith, singer, songwriter, and guitarist of the legendary group the Monkees, has passed away from natural causes, according to Rolling Stone.

"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 wrote in a statement.

"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 was the man behind many of the group's most famous songs, including "Circle Sky," "Listen to the Band," "Mary, Mary," and "The Girl."

During his career and as the group became more popular, Nesmith fought hard to ensure that The Monkees had creative control over their albums.

"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 once 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?'"

After the group dissolved in the 1960s, Nesmith helped form The First National Band, but as Rolling Stone said, it was hard for him to escape the shadow of the Monkees.

Later in his career, Nesmith recorded several solo albums and then briefly returned to the Monkees in 1996 and permanently in 2012. The band went on several tours during that time and even released  a comeback album in 2016 titled "Good Times!"

Earlier this year, the Monkees went on a farewell tour, and on November 14, they played their final show in Los Angeles.

"Everyone at Rhino is overwhelmed with sadness today to hear the news of Michael Nesmith’s passing," Mark Pinkus, the president of Rhino Records, said in a press statement. "Nez was not only a GRAMMY® Award-winning musician, songwriter, actor, filmmaker, producer, novelist, businessman, and philanthropist, he was also a dear part of the Rhino family and a pillar of the label for more than four decades."  

"As a member of The Monkees," he continues, "Michael won over the hearts of millions as a performer and songwriter, for both the band as well as other artists. He then went on to become a pioneering figure in the rise of country rock with his First National Band and a true visionary in film and TV at the dawn of the music video era."

Michael Nesmith was 78 years old.

Related Stories