Monkees star Michael Nesmith has died of natural causes, his family confirms. He was 78.
“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 an official 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 broke free from the Monkees’ pre-fab beginnings to become a musical pioneer in his own right, but only after leading an internal rebellion to gain creative control from producer Don Kirshner. They emerged from those battles with 1967’s Headquarters, the first Monkees album created by the band themselves.
Nesmith went on to compose some of their most complex material, including favorites like “Listen to the Band,” “Mary, Mary,” “The Girl I Knew Somewhere” and “Circle Sky,” before becoming a groundbreaking figure in country rock.
He formed the First National after the Monkees initial split, but couldn’t will his new musical concept past the long shadow of his former band. They broke up before groups like the Eagles, the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers took the emerging genre to the mainstream.
Nesmith resisted Monkees’ earliest reunion overtures before belatedly joining his former bandmates for a tour in 2012 and a well-regarded reunion album, 2016’s Good Times! He and Micky Dolenz only recently completed a Monkees farewell tour, performing as a duo following the death of Peter Tork.