Michael Nesmith Biography

Robert Michael Nesmith is an American musician, songwriter, actor, producer, novelist, businessman, and philanthropist, best known as a member of the pop rock band the Monkees and co-star of the TV series The Monkees . Nesmith’s songwriting credits include “Different Drum”.

After the break-up of the Monkees, Nesmith continued his successful songwriting and performing career, first with the seminal country rock group the First National Band, with whom he had a top-40 hit “Joanne”, and then as a solo artist. He is a noted player of the 12-string guitar, performing on custom-built 12-string electric guitars with the Monkees and various 12-string acoustic models during his post-Monkees career.

He is also an executive producer of the cult film Repo Man in 1984. In 1981, Nesmith won the first Grammy Award given for Video of the Year for his hour-long television show, Elephant Parts.

Michael Nesmith Age

Robert Michael Nesmith was born as Robert Michael Nesmith , on December 30, 1942. He 76 years old as of 2018.

Michael Nesmith Marriage And Divorce|Michael Nesmith Kids

Nesmith has been married three times and has four children. He met his first wife, Phyllis Ann Barbour, while at San Antonio College. After marrying in 1964, they soon had their first child, Christian. Their second child, Jonathan, was born in February 1968. Their daughter Jessica was born in September 1970. Nesmith and Barbour divorced in 1972.

Nesmith also has a son, Jason, born in August 1968 to Nurit Wilde, whom he met while working on The Monkees.

He married Kathryn Bild in 1976, and married Victoria Kennedy in 2000. They divorced in 2011.

Michael Nesmith Career

Nesmith was given a guitar as a Christmas present from his mother and stepfather after a tour of duty in the Air Force. Learning as he went, he played solo and in a series of working bands, performing folk, country, and occasionally rock and roll. His verse poems became the basis for song lyrics, and after moving to Los Angeles with Phyllis and friend John London, he signed a publishing deal for his songs. Nesmith’s “Mary, Mary” was recorded by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, while “Different Drum” and “Some of Shelly’s Blues” were recorded by Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys. “Pretty Little Princess”, written in 1965, was recorded by Frankie Laine and released as a single in 1968 on ABC Records. Later, “Some of Shelly’s Blues” and “Propinquity ” were made popular by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on their 1970 album Uncle Charlie & His Dog Teddy.

He began his recording career in 1963 by releasing a single on the Highness label. He followed this in 1965 with a one-off single released on Edan Records followed by two more recorded singles; one was titled “The New Recruit” under the name “Michael Blessing”, released on Colpix Records, coincidentally also the label of Davy Jones, though they did not meet until the Monkees formed.

Michael Nesmith Net Worth

He has an estimated net worth of $50 million.

Michael Nesmith Monkees

From 1965 to early 1970, he was a member of the television pop-rock band The Monkees, created for the television situation comedy of the same name. Nesmith won his role largely by appearing nonchalant when he auditioned. He rode his motorcycle to the audition, and wore a wool hat to keep his hair out of his eyes; producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider remembered the “wool hat” guy, and called Nesmith back. Once he was cast, Screen Gems bought his songs so they could be used in the show. Many of the songs Nesmith wrote for The Monkees, such as “The Girl I Knew Somewhere”, “Mary, Mary”, and “Listen to the Band”, became minor hits. One song he wrote, “You Just May Be the One”, is in mixed meter, interspersing 5/4 bars into an otherwise 4/4 structure.

As part of a promotional deal, Gretsch guitar company built a one-off, natural-finish, 12-string electric guitar for Nesmith when he was performing with The Monkees. The custom-made guitar was frequently cited at that time as being worth $5,000 (the equivalent of $36,500 in 2018), which was undoubtedly inflated for publicity purposes. He earlier played a customized Gretsch 12-string, which had originally been a six-string model. Nesmith used this guitar for his appearances on the television series, as well as The Monkees’ live appearances in 1966 and 1967. Beginning in 1968, Nesmith used a white six-string Gibson SG Custom for his live appearances with The Monkees. He used that guitar in their motion picture Head for the live version of “Circle Sky”, and also for the final original Monkees tour in 1969. In a post on his Facebook page in 2011, Nesmith reported that both guitars were stolen in the early 1970s.

He was the most publicly vocal Monkee about the band’s prefabricated image. The Monkees succeeded in ousting supervisor Don Kirshner and took control of their records and song choices, but they worked as a four-man group on only one album, 1967’s Headquarters. Nesmith withheld many of his songs from the final Monkees albums, opting to release them on his post-Monkees solo records. During the band’s first independent press conference, Nesmith called More of The Monkees “probably the worst record in the history of the world”. The band never regained its credibility after fans learned they had not played the instruments on their earlier records. Sales still continued to be profitable until the disastrous release of the movie Head.

His last contractual Monkees commitment was a commercial for Kool-Aid and Nerf balls in April 1970. As the band’s sales declined, Nesmith asked to be released from his contract, despite it costing him: “I had three years left… at $150,000 [equivalent to $980,940 in 2018] a year”. He remained in a financial bind until 1980, when he received his inheritance from the Liquid Paper Company. In a 1980 interview with Playboy, he said of that time: “I had to start telling little tales to the tax man while they were putting tags on the furniture.”

Michael Nesmith Joanne|Michael Nesmith And The First National Band

Michael Nesmith Interview

Mike Nesmith reflects on the Monkees legacy, the First National Band and touring with Micky Dolenz

Published 6:00 a.m. MT May 23, 2018 | Updated 6:40 p.m. MT May 30, 2018

Question: Are there things you can do as a duo that make this a different experience for you than if Peter was there and you called it the Monkees?

Answer: Yes — the range of options is a determining factor — being able to do things that Mike and Micky could not or did not do with the Monkees opens up other artistic possibilities — always a good thing in my opinion.

Q: You’ve drifted in and out of the Monkees several times since you first left the group in 1970. What do you think it is that keeps you coming back for more?

A: I enjoy the Monkees and the music and working with the other three guys.  The Monkees are mostly the same from iteration to iteration so there is not a lot of exploring — and without the TV show we don’t have a straight and level foundation — which makes projects like this not that easy to build or to produce as a show. With Mike and Micky we can do what we please while holding the Monkees carefully in hand.

Q: Is the experience of coming back ever as good as you hoped it would be?

A: No — there is a kind of nostalgia for the ’60s and the whole arc of the Monkees popularity that is always a little thin.

Q: What brought you back in 2012? I would imagine getting back together after Davy’s passing was a bittersweet experience.

A: Davy’s passing was the key factor. It didn’t seem right to me or the other guys to let his passing go unremarked. Davy was really the lead man and the face of the Monkees, so his passing closed a chapter for all of us — and I thought it was respectful for us to honor his work here.

Q: How did it feel to get back in the studio and work on “Good Times” and were you happy with the way it turned out?

A: Very much like the ’60’s — with all the sturm and drang.

There is something about the Monkees that gives people the idea it is their right to assign any effort to the Monkees as legitimate — like it is a band that belongs to everyone and allows them to do with Monkees as they wish.


Of course this ability is not a real one — and many professionals have gotten lost in those woods. I only hope that I am not one of them. I love the Monkees for what they were and are — and don’t feel as if the band needs anything from “outside” pros.

“Good Times” was a good record — and fair enough — but we had about the same to do with the record as we did on the first two albums — which is to say not much.

Other people wanted to drive the Monkeemobile and it was not up to me whether to let them. So I withdrew and followed along.

Q: Does it feel like the Monkees are treated with a bit more respect in 2018 than they were in the ‘60s?

A: A bit — but I think more than anything people are starting to get an idea of what the Monkees are — a television show — and where that fits in their life.

Whether this makes them more respectful of the Monkees is something I cannot presently discern. This is not a question I can easily answer.

Q: You published a memoir called “Infinite Tuesday: An Autobiographical Riff” last year. How did it feel to get your story down in book form?

A:  I LOVED writing “Infinite Tuesday.” It was the realization of an objective of mine as an artist. I want to be able to write regularly and clearly about my life — to the extent I can.

Q: Did it feel like you learned anything about yourself by having to process all those different chapters of your life to write about it?

A: Actually, no — these were ideas I had carried around and nurtured over the years — that I thought about and tried to understand — so I was eager and waiting for the opportunity to write them all up into a book.

Q: You don’t say much about the Monkees in your book. Why do you think that is?

A: It seems to me that everyone has had their say and that all that needs to be written has been written.

It seemed the better part of wisdom to leave that story in the book where it was in my life — an important and pleasant chapter, but only a chapter, followed by many others that put the Monkees in their proper perspective.

Q: Is being part of the giant pop-culture phenomenon that was the Monkees something that you’ve had to come to terms with through the years? And how were you able to do that?

A: It didn’t feel quite like that. I was never able to parse the Monkees in my life much past being a great adventure. This did not take too much adjusting.

Q: I would imagine it was tough for you as a musician and a songwriter to have to fight for not only creative but for the opportunity to play on your own records prior to “Headquarters”?

A: Well — the question assumes the Monkees were a self-made band working their way up the show business ladder — but this wasn’t true. “The Monkees” was first and last a television show and it is easy to see and understand the limits of that.

The idea that we should play and sing the songs ourselves was really just a kind of natural flow of events — not a brass ring or some kind of redemption.

Q: Do you find that you’re able to look on the Monkees early years more fondly now than you could in the ‘70s?

A: Yes — I have grown to love the show like I do other comedy shows. Time will tell how good it was. But it seems to get better a little over time.

There will come a point at which the show will no longer inspire or uplift or make people laugh. Such is the way of things like this. But for now it is a pleasant addition to my life — like an old and treasured friend.

Q: Has your opinion of those Monkees records changed at all?

A: Some are good and some are not so good. In the long run though those opinions are formed by each of us — but the salient point for me is that my opinions have stayed pretty much the same over the decades.

Q: Do you have a favorite Monkees album and if so what makes that your favorite?

A: “Headquarters” was fun — we were living out a kind of young boy fantasy — making a record we wrote and played — but I dare not offer an opinion about whether it was good in the larger sense of things — that I don’t know and doubt that I ever will.

As I say in “Infinite Tuesday” – John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix never saw themselves play — never heard what we all heard that changed our lives.

Does this mean Hendrix and Lennon did not have their lives changed? No — only that their lives were not ours, and so they changed accordingly.

Same with me and the Monkees records. And I was even further removed than Lennon and Hendrix — not to put myself in their league.

Q: Were you ready for the show to end when it did?

A: Yes we all were — very tired — and the show was starting to repeat itself. Things like the Monkees show have a specific lifetime, and when it’s through, it is through, left for history to assess. It does not however, ever, die.

Q: What are your thoughts on the movie “Head?”

A: It was a first-class surreal movie made by high-minded and extremely gifted craftsmen — it deserves a long look and deep study. All that is left of the movie now is the movie itself and it has been good to me.

Q: You’ve been doing some shows with a revamped First National Band. What inspired you to dive back into that chapter of your career?

A: It has been very gratifying — the songs contain messages from my heart to my soul — and if I sing these days I am most satisfied by the First National Band Redux — really the band I want to be “in.”

Those were the songs I started writing when I started writing. They play out in my life the way any early work persists and nourishes the way they nourish. The First National Band was to be my private yacht to take me to shore. It still serves that purpose.

And I think it is a beautiful boat. As Cary Grant told Grace Kelly – “she was yar”

Q: How did it feel to get out there and front that band again?

A: It was natural and easy — an experience made particularly happy by the band — who love the music – and the crowds — which have been supportive beyond my wildest dreams.

Q: You were out on the forefront of the country-rock movement with your solo music. What was the appeal for you at the time of putting a more country-flavored spin on rock and roll?

A: I never thought of it as country music.

That was more the conceit of the “New York Monkee Music Makers” — who told me “no twang”! at one point — more to emphasize I had no place in the Monkees music — since I was twanging from day one – couldn’t help myself.

“A twang as many Monkees fans are starting to learn — is not a sign of stupidity or lack of intelligence. It is just an accent.”

But a twang as many Monkees fans are starting to learn — is not a sign of stupidity or lack of intelligence. It is just an accent — no more or less — and it sounds twangy to be sure — but it is far from stupid or shallow.

I like the way that twang and metre set up the ideas it delivers — so I enjoy singing it.

Q: How did it feel to watch the Eagles blow up in the ‘70s the way did with such a remarkably similar sound?

A: It was naturally thrilling. I loved the Eagles from the first time I heard them — but as with many things that are nearly perfect in their first iteration, the Eagles had some growing to do — and how they finally wound up their run was a spectacular show of talent and intelligence.

They were and are one of my favorite bands — but I don’t listen to them anymore.

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