The Monkees debuted on television and on record in the fall of 1966. Their self-titled album included the country sounding song “Papa Gene’s Blues” written by the group’s guitarist Mike Nesmith, who passed away December 10 at age 78, less than a month after concluding the tour known as The Mike and Micky Show, a Monkees farewell tour with the surviving two Monkees, Mike Nesmith and Micky Dolenz.
A few of Nesmith’s popular compositions with The Monkees include “Mary, Mary,” the flip side “The Girl I Knew Somewhere,” and the single “Listen to the Band,” which was the last song he sang lead on in his final concert.
As a composer, Nesmith’s highest charting flip side with The Monkees was “Tapioca Tundra,” which he sang lead on, and served as the flip side of “Valleri,” their sixth and final gold single, released a month ahead of their fifth and final album as a quartet in the 1960s, The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees. In his 2013 interview with Goldmine Nesmith said, “The song itself is about the moment when the performer realizes that the songs he or she sings belong to the people, the fans and the crowds who love the songs, and the performer is only there in service to that relationship. ‘It cannot be a part of me, for now it’s part of you.’"
Flip side: Tapioca Tundra
A side: Valleri
Billboard Top 100 debut: March 8, 1968
Peak position: No. 3 for “Valleri” and 34 for “Tapioca Tundra”
After leaving The Monkees, Nesmith returned to the Top 40 for a final time in 1970 with his country-rock single “Joanne” by Michael Nesmith & The First National Band. The following year, his composition “Some of Shelly’s Blues” was in the Top 100 by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Both “Joanne” and “Some of Shelly’s Blues” were included on Nesmith’s 1978 album Live at The Palais where he was joined by steel guitarist Al Perkins, who told Goldmine, “Not only was Michael a pioneer in the field of video music, with his Pop Clips innovation, but also one of the nicest guys you’d ever meet! I had the pleasure to tour with him in Australia, during which the Live at The Palais was recorded, but also played on his Infinite Rider on the Big Dogma album. In addition, he asked me to produce a steel guitar album featuring several other West Coast players called Pacific Steel Co. He loved music greatly and will be missed by many!”
In 1980, Nesmith’s mother, who invented the correction fluid called Liquid Paper, passed away, leaving him with a sizeable inheritance which allowed him to invest more money in Pop Clips which evolved into MTV. Nesmith was offered the chance to be MTV’s production head, but he turned it down.
Nesmith reunited with the other Monkees in 1996 for their 30th anniversary album Justus, again in 2016 for their 50th anniversary album Good Times! and in 2018 for Christmas Party. In 2020, a 25 song live album was released from 2019 concert recordings called The Monkees Live: The Mike & Micky Show. This year Micky Dolenz released the album Dolenz sings Nesmith, comprised of Nesmith’s compositions including “Different Drum,” which was Linda Ronstadt’s breakthrough hit, entering the Top 40 in late 1967 when The Monkees were on the charts with “Daydream Believer.” The fourteen song album is a fitting final tribute to Mike Nesmith including compositions from his Monkees years and beyond, on 7a Records.
Micky Dolenz stated, “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.”