He didn’t always get his dues, and his relationship with his most famous group was knotty. But the late musician’s contributions to pop and country rock are invaluable

Michael Nesmith, singer and guitarist with the Monkees, dies aged 78

Up until a few weeks before his death, Mike Nesmith was touring as the Monkees with Micky Dolenz, the band’s other surviving member, performing I’m A Believer, Pleasant Valley Sunday, Daydream Believer et al, on what was billed as their farewell tour. There was a certain sweet irony in that.

Nesmith was famously the Monkee most horrified by how prefabricated the Prefab Four were supposed to be. Already a gifted songwriter when he signed on for the TV show that would make him famous (Screen Gems, the company behind The Monkees, bought a couple of Nesmith’s songs for the show, although they turned down Different Drum, subsequently the song that launched Linda Ronstadt’s career) he was furious at the restrictions placed on them by producer Don Kirscher. At the height of their fame, it was Nesmith who bluntly informed a US magazine that the band didn’t play on their records – “I don’t care if we never sell another record … tell the world we don’t record our own music” – and that their current album, More of the Monkees, was “probably the worst album in the history of the world”. It was Nesmith who legendarily became so outraged by Kirscher and lawyer Herb Moelis’ high-handed treatment of the band that he put his fist through the wall of Kirscher’s Beverly Hills hotel room and informed Moelis “that could have been your face”.

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