Singer-songwriter Michael Nesmith, who rose to fame as a member of the Monkees in the 1960s, died Friday at the age of 78, his family confirmed.
“With Infinite Love we announce that Michael Nesmith has passed away this morning in his home, surrounded by family, peacefully and of natural causes,” read a statement from his family, according to 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.”
Rolling Stone summed up his early career like this: “Nesmith was known as the Monkee in the green wool hat with the thick Texas drawl, and the writer of songs like ‘Mary, Mary,’ ‘Circle Sky,’ ‘Listen to the Band,’ and ‘The Girl I Knew Somewhere.’
“But he raged behind the scenes that the group didn’t have creative control of its albums, and in 1967 led the successful rebellion against record producer Don Kirshner. The group would subsequently release Headquarters and other albums created largely on its own,” the outlet added.
Even after “Monkee mania” died down, Nesmith went on to find success as a solo artist, in addition to helping develop a TV show. The New York Times reported.
Nesmith recorded a song in 1977 and, when asked to make some sort of promotional film for it, created what would eventually become the first ever modern music video.
“Mr. Nesmith became more willing, or perhaps more available, to embrace his Monkee past in recent years,” The Times reported, adding that he joined some of his old bandmates on tour after former Monkee Davy Jones died in 2012.
Tributes for Nesmith poured in on social media:
— Super 70s Sports (@Super70sSports) December 11, 2021
Michael Nesmith's music was such a gift. I heard the wonderful Linda Ronstadt singing his song Different Drum in 1967 (the year this photo was taken) and never stopped singing it… pic.twitter.com/6P5kE8FnAg
— Susanna Hoffs (@SusannaHoffs) December 11, 2021
Songwriter and Guitarist Michael Nesmith of The Monkees has died at 78. He won the first Grammy Award given for Video of the Year for his hour-long television show, Elephant Parts, and he will be missed. pic.twitter.com/uI006eICFj
— Eric Alper 🎧 (@ThatEricAlper) December 10, 2021
my dearest michael nesmith, you will forever remain in our hearts 🤍 pic.twitter.com/zcBlla9HkL
— get back, juliana! 🎲🌳 (@therewerebells) December 10, 2021
According to a spokesman for Rhino Records, which represents the Monkees, Nesmith died of heart failure. He had suffered from heart problems for years.