Mike Nesmith, one of four members of 1960s television and pop phenomenon The Monkees, has died, fellow band member Micky Dolenz and his family said Friday. He was 78.
The group were a made-for-TV outfit put together in the United States to rival Britain’s The Beatles.
Dubbed “The Pre-Fab Four” — a play on their artifice and The Beatles’ nickname — The Monkees were a commercial smash, whose catchy pop hits remain instantly recognisable more than 50 years on.
“I’m heartbroken. I’ve lost a dear friend and partner,” tweeted Dolenz, the last surviving member of the foursom.
“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.”
US media quoted a family statement saying Nesmith had died at home of natural causes.
Nesmith, Dolenz and Peter Tork were recruited to star alongside Briton Davy Jones in the 1966-1968 TV series about an aspiring band looking for their big break.
The four goofed their way through mild capers, accompanied by a laugh track as the fictional band morphed into a real-life group that ultimately sold millions of records.
Their three big hits were ‘Last Train to Clarksville,’ ‘I’m a Believer’ and ‘Daydream Believer.’ The band became huge stars.
But the four chafed in the format and under management that they felt had too much control over their music.
After the TV show was cancelled, they began to run out of steam. By 1970, the band had split.
There were periodic reunions over the following decades and 2016 saw the release of an album featuring all four, despite Jones’ death four years earlier.
Peter Tork died in February 2019.
Nesmith reunited with Dolenz and the pair toured together, with their final gig in Los Angeles last month.
“It is with deep sadness that I mark the passing of Michael Nesmith,” manager Andrew Sandoval wrote 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.
“That tour was a true blessing for so many. And in the end I know that Michael was at peace with his legacy which included songwriting, producing, acting, direction and so many innovative ideas and concepts.
“I am positive the brilliance he captured will resonate and offer the love and light towards which he always moved.”