Remembering the Pop Visionary of The Monkees’ Michael Nesmith with ‘Circle Sky’ Live in 1968

Remembering the Pop Visionary of The Monkees’ Michael Nesmith with ‘Circle Sky’ Live in 1968

The Monkees (L-R Micky Delonz, Peter Tork, Michael Nesmith, Davy Jones). Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images.

The music world was saddened to learn of the passing of the Monkees’ singer and guitarist, Michael Nesmith who died on December 10th, at the age of seventy-eight. The songwriter and actor was best known for being part of the iconic TV band, but he would go on to list many other achievements following the show’s wrap in 1968, including finding his own success in country rock and television production.

And it’s hardly surprising. While the Monkee’s may have been a Beatlesque group made up of actor-musicians (Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork) their songs remain among the most enduring pop hits of all time. While a number of the Monkees’ early hits were penned by massive stars still at the outset of their careers, like Neil Diamond and Carole King who wrote I'm a Believer and Pleasant Valley Sunday respectively, some of their later forays into psychedelia and country rock were written by Nesmith himself, legitimizing their cultivated beginnings with a twist of psychedelic pop visionary. 

Nesmith, with his signature wool hat and the thick Texas drawl, was a determined figure in the quartet, reclaiming creative control from the Monkees’ record producer Don Kirshner in 1967 and writing a number of their later songs like Mary, Mary, Listen to the Band, The Girl I Knew Somewhere and Circle Sky.

The Monkees | ‘Circle Sky’ [Live 1968]

Aways ahead of his time, before joining the Monkees, Nesmith wrote a buoyant breakup song called Different Drum which the show’s producers initially rejected. Fellow Monkee, Micky Dolenz recalled the outcome of that decision in a 2016 interview with Rolling Stone. “[The producers] said to him, ‘That’s not a Monkees song.’ Micky said. ‘Wait a minute, I am one of the Monkees.’ He gave it to Linda Ronstadt, and the rest is history.”

Different Drum was released by the Stone Poney’s in 1967, featuring a stunning vocal performance by the then up and coming Linda Ronstadt would give the chart-topping singer her first Top 20 hit. 

Linda Ronstadt | ‘Different Drum’

Micheal Nesmith was the cool Monkee, the lanky, nonchalant rockstar of the Pre Fab Four and a truly innovative songwriter. His presence in the iconic band contributed greatly to their credibility and is surely a big reason why they remain so celebrated to this day. Let’s enjoy some of those beloved Monkees hits below.

The Monkees | ‘Last Train To Clarksville’

The Monkees | ‘I’m a Believer’ 

The Monkees | ‘Daydream Believer’ 

RIP Papa Nez. 


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