Michael Nesmith, the ‘Quiet Monkee,’ Is Dead at 78


He died on Friday after a long and varied career that included directing the first music video of the rock era and winning the first Grammy Award for videography. Michael Nesmith rose to fame in 1966 as the contemplative, wool-cap-wearing member of the Monkees. He was 78 years old at the time.

A statement from his family stated that he died at home, but they did not provide further details about the cause of death.

Seeing an advertisement in Variety for “4 insane boys” for “acting roles in new TV series,” Mr. Nesmith, a struggling 23-year-old singer and songwriter, responded.

When Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider were young, they were huge fans of the Beatles movies and dreamed of creating their own television show based on the wild antics of their favourite rock band. This was never going to be a real rock band, though the Lovin’ Spoonful was considered for the role.

The members were chosen based on their personalities. Among the members of the Beatles were Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork, each of whom was a lovable dim bulb. Guitarist Mr. Nesmith was variously referred to as “the cerebral Monkee,” “the introspective Monkee,” “the sardonic Monkee,” and “the quiet Monkee.

Mr. Dolenz described Mr. Nesmith’s real personality to Rolling Stone in 2012, saying, “He has that dry Will Rogers sense of humour.” “It’s possible that’s why they chose him.”

It premiered in September 1966 and lasted only two seasons, but the Monkees became a cultural icon thanks to their best-selling albums (which featured a lot of studio musicians and backup singers, especially early on). In his 2017 memoir, “Infinite Tuesday,” Mr. Nesmith, who wrote and produced some Monkees songs, disputed that he was the only “real” musician in the group.

“It would always seem wildly ironic to me that I was the one given credit for being the ‘only musician’ in the Monkees,” he wrote. There was “nothing more deceptive than this.”

A full obituary will be published in the near future.