Monkees singer and guitarist Michael Nesmith, whose band topped the charts in the 1960s while the quartet starred in a lighthearted TV show, has died, his manager said Friday.
He died at his home in Carmel Valley, Calif. Nesmith was 78.
“It is with deep sadness that I mark the passing of Michael Nesmith,” Andrew Sandoval said on Twitter. “We shared many travels and projects together over the course of 30 years, which culminated in a Monkees farewell tour that wrapped up only a few weeks ago.”
Nesmith, who had undergone quadruple bypass surgery in 2018, died of natural causes, his family said in a statement.
The Monkees grew in popularity after the group starred in “The Monkees” TV show about a rock ‘n’ roll band. The comedy debuted on NBC in 1966. Nesmith was easily recognizable on the small screen because of a trademark wool cap.
The group’s first two albums, “The Monkees” and “More of the Monkees,” were back-to-back No. 1 LPs, holding the top of the chart for 31 consecutive weeks in 1966-67. The group logged two more No. 1 collections by the end of 1967, Variety reported.
The band’s hits included “Daydream Believer,” “Last Train to Clarksville,” “I’m a Believer,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday” and “Valleri.”
Nesmith was known as a talented songwriter. His credits with the Monkees included “Mary, Mary,” “Papa Gene’s Blues,” “You Told Me” and “You Just May Be the One,” Variety reported.
The Monkees split in 1971. In 2012, after band member Davy Jones passed away, the three surviving members of the group reunited.
Although other members of the group had participated in reunion tours, Nesmith remained mostly out of the fold.
He said then of the reunion: “I never really left. It is a part of my youth that is always active in my thought and part of my overall work as an artist. It stays in a special place. But like things in the past it fades in and out in relevance to activities that are current. Getting together with old friends and acquaintances can be very stimulating and fun and even inspiring to me. We did some good work together and I am always interested in the right time and the right place to reconnect and play.”
Sandoval said Friday of Nesmith’s passing, “I am positive the brilliance he captured will resonate and offer the love and light towards which he always moved. Nez expressed the highest part of his being through his voice. And you could get no closer to him then through knowing his work. May all those who loved him feel his comfort at this time — just listen and he will be there for you.”
Sandoval then quoted the prolific musician’s own lyrics from “I’ll Remember You.”
“Thank you for the times you gave me, thank you for the tears you saved me, please take this song as my thanks to you.”
Nesmith’s career after the Monkees included veering into country rock. He also developed a multimedia company, which launched a weekly music video series later purchased by Warner Cable and transformed into MTV in the 1980s.
With Nesmith’s death, Micky Dolenz is now the only surviving member of the pop band.
He said in a statement Friday: “I’m heartbroken. I’ve lost a dear friend and partner. I’m so grateful that we could spend the last couple of months together doing what we loved best — singing, laughing, and doing shtick. I’ll miss it all so much. Especially the shtick. Rest in peace, Nez.”
Dolenz ended the statement, “All my love, Mick.”
CORRECTION (Dec. 10, 2021, 3:45 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misspelled one of the Monkees’ hits. It is “Valleri,” not “Vallerie.”
Antonio Planas is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital.
Diana Dasrath is entertainment producer and senior reporter for NBC News covering all platforms.
The Associated Press