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Michael Nesmith: Final Interview, Monkees, Last Tour, Micky Dolenz

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Michael Nesmith: Final Interview, Monkees, Last Tour, Micky Dolenz


After I stepped onto Michael Nesmith’s tour bus in Huntington, New York, on Oct. 28, the very first thing he did was provide me some weed. I politely declined, as I did each time we sat down collectively, and requested about his well being. The topic had been on my thoughts ever since I noticed him at tour rehearsals early the earlier month and was startled to search out him gaunt and pale, unable to face for greater than a minute or two at a time.

“Don’t know,” Nesmith stated between puffs on his vape pen. “Any well being points I’ve are trivial. And as you already know, I’m a working towards Christian Scientist. I don’t go to medical doctors or the hospital.… However folks preserve asking, ‘Are you going to make it?’ Effectively, I don’t know what the fuck meaning proper now. Will I reside to a thousand years previous? I don’t suppose so. However I don’t know. Monkees are unusual folks.”

The Mike Nesmith I had seen in September didn’t appear to be he’d have the ability to get by a single live performance, not to mention a 10-week tour. However after a really rocky couple of weeks the place Nesmith stationed himself on a stool all through the reveals and freaked out the Monkee devoted together with his droopy demeanor, he gained sufficient power to face all through that whole two-hour Huntington gig on the finish of October.

By the point the tour ended on Nov. 14 at L.A.’s Greek Theatre, just some miles from the Columbia Studios lot the place the Monkees had been born 56 years earlier as a made-for-TV Beatles, Nez virtually appeared like his pre-pandemic self, if a bit wobbly, gleefully belting out hits like “Nice Valley Sunday,” “Daydream Believer,” and “Take heed to the Band.”

He died of coronary heart failure at his California dwelling on Dec. 10, simply 26 days after the final notes of “I’m a Believer” rang by the Greek and Nesmith walked offstage alongside Micky Dolenz, now the one surviving member of the Monkees. “I came upon a pair days in the past that he was going into hospice,” Dolenz told me just hours after he heard the news. “I knew what that meant. I had my second then and I let go. It’s simply good to know that he handed peacefully.”

“Peaceable” was not a phrase you’d have usually used to explain Michael Nesmith’s demeanor over the many years, however one thing modified in these previous couple of months. A Zen-like calmness took over as his physique began to fail, and the prefabricated band that usually appeared just like the product of a Faustian discount grew to become a supply of deep which means to him. It was not the primary time he’d stunned me over time. Monkees are unusual folks, certainly.

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 10: (L-R) Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork of The Monkees perform at The Greek Theatre on November 10, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)

Nesmith, Dolenz, and Tork onstage in 2012

Noel Vasquez/Getty Photographs

My first contact with Mike Nesmith got here in early 2012, once I was reporting an obituary for fellow Monkee Davy Jones. I knew solely the broad define of Nesmith’s story. I knew he was inheritor to a considerable fortune that his mom, Liquid Paper inventor Bette Nesmith Graham, left him upon her loss of life in 1980. I knew he performed a pivotal although underappreciated function within the growth of nation rock within the early Seventies, thanks to 3 albums he made together with his post-Monkees outfit the First Nationwide Band. I knew of his 1977 “Rio” video, the success of which impressed him to start out a TV present referred to as PopClips, which immediately led to MTV (although Nesmith rebuffed the corporate’s provides to assist run the community).

Most of all, I knew him because the Reluctant Monkee, the dour one who spent the whole Monkees chapter of his life in a simmering rage. The band was created in 1965 by TV producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider. Virtually immediately, their TV present and songs grew to become wildly widespread, however to start with that they had virtually no management over their music. This didn’t sit nicely with Nesmith.

I’d seen the 2000 VH1 film Daydream Believers, the place the Nesmith character punched a gap by a wall on the Beverly Hills Lodge when he was advised by Monkees producer Don Kirshner he had no alternative however to report the songs they gave him, though he’d already penned classics like “Completely different Drum” and “Mary, Mary.” “That would have been your face!” biopic Nesmith snapped at Kirshner.

I knew he sat out each Monkees reunion tour except a Thirtieth-anniversary run in 1997, when he bolted after simply 11 reveals, all abroad. After I noticed the Monkees at a rib cook-off within the car parking zone of a Cleveland airport in the summertime of 2001, they didn’t point out Nez a single time from the stage, though they performed a number of of his songs. “He’s at all times been this aloof, inaccessible particular person,” Davy Jones stated in 1997, “the fourth a part of the jigsaw puzzle that by no means match.”

My psychological picture of Nesmith at that time was a mix of Charles Foster Kane, Howard Hughes, and Gram Parsons. I imagined him wandering about his mansion, nonetheless muttering to himself about Don Kirshner and punching by partitions every time “I’m a Believer” got here on the radio.

Within the aftermath of Jones’ loss of life, Dolenz and fellow Monkee Peter Tork readily acquired on the telephone and spoke movingly about their late bandmate. I figured Nesmith was a protracted shot to speak, however I tracked down his lawyer and put in an interview request. A lot to my shock, Nez agreed to an e mail interview. And when the answers came back a couple days later, I used to be stunned on the eloquence and element of his responses.

“For me, David was the Monkees,” Nesmith wrote. “They had been his band. We had been his aspect males. He was the focus of the romance, the stunning boy, harmless and approachable. Micky was his Bob Hope. In these two — like Hope and Crosby — was the heartbeat of the present.”

“[Jones] advised nice jokes,” he continued. “Very properly developed sense of the absurd — Pythonesque — truly, Past the Fringe — however you get my level. We might rush to one another anytime we heard a brand new joke and inform it to one another and chuckle like loopy. David had a beautiful chuckle, infectious. He would double up, crouching over his knees, and chuckle until he ran out of breath. Whether or not he advised the joke or not. We each did.”

This didn’t appear very like the bitter, resentful Michael Nesmith I had created in my thoughts. It felt like a person who missed his bandmate and was lastly capable of look again at his previous with no small diploma of pleasure. This was confirmed later that 12 months, when Nesmith agreed to reunite with Tork and Dolenz for a quick American tour. “I by no means actually left,” he advised me. “It is part of my youth that’s at all times energetic in my ideas and a part of my total work as an artist.… We did some good work collectively, and I’m at all times eager about the fitting time and the fitting place to reconnect and play.”

The Monkees’ present on the Beacon Theatre on Dec. 2, 2012, left me shocked. The band had maintained a hardcore following over the many years that flocked to all of their partial reunion reveals, however with Nez again within the fold, we had been witnessing one thing extraordinary. It felt virtually like Peter Gabriel again in Genesis or Peter Inexperienced again in Fleetwood Mac, an unimaginable dream taking place proper earlier than my eyes. They performed their catalog in chronological order, and even throughout early songs like “Your Auntie Grizelda” and “Final Practice to Clarksville,” tunes which may have as soon as triggered him to stay his fist by drywall, Nesmith was smiling and engaged.

Once they acquired to latter-day classics like “Circle Sky” and “Take heed to the Band,” songs they recorded after the Monkee revolt in 1967 that gave them the liberty to put in writing and report their very own materials, he radiated pleasure and vitality.

For the primary time I had ever seen — presumably for the primary time ever — Nesmith seemed like he beloved being a Monkee with none reservations.

Over the following few months, I listened to little music that wasn’t written or recorded by Michael Nesmith, and I discovered much more about his life. He grew up in Texas, the one baby of a struggling single mom (Bette Nesmith Graham didn’t discovered the corporate that grew to become Liquid Paper till 1958). He moved to Los Angeles within the early Sixties after leaving the Air Drive. He labored as a “hootmaster” throughout Monday-night hootenannies on the Troubadour, and launched a handful of unsuccessful songs beneath the title Michael Blessing.

In 1965, he responded to an advert on the lookout for “Folks & Roll Musicians-Singers for performing function in new TV sequence” within the trades. This was the brainchild of two tv producers who wished to money in on the success of the Beatles. Nesmith was forged alongside fellow folkie Peter Tork, British stage actor Davy Jones, and Fifties baby star Micky Dolenz, greatest remembered for the present Circus Boy. They might play a faux group that may launch actual music.

The latter half intrigued Nesmith probably the most, however he shortly discovered that professional songwriters like Neil Diamond, Carole King, Carole Bayer Sager, and Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart would write the overwhelming majority of the songs, with studio execs dealing with the instrumentation. The precise Monkees had been requested to do little apart from sing. The association led to huge hits like “I’m a Believer” and “Final Practice to Clarksville,” which dominated pop radio and, together with the TV present, turned the foursome into superstars. However Nez felt like a phony though the producers placated him by together with a few his songs on the early albums.

By early 1967, Nez led a profitable revolt, and the group was given permission to put in writing and report their very own songs, resulting in the sensible album Headquarters. However their gross sales slipped drastically in 1968, when their TV present was canceled after simply two seasons, and Tork stop the band. Latter-day albums like Prompt Replay and The Monkees Current (each from 1969) had been industrial disasters, however they gave Nez the chance to fuse nation and rock collectively in daring new methods, an curiosity that went again to his childhood in Texas, the place he had equal love for each genres.

The experiments continued after the dissolution of the Monkees, when Nez shaped the First Nationwide Band and recorded three near-flawless country-rock albums in an unbelievable burst of creativity between 1970 and 1971. None of them rose greater on the album chart than 143, and he dissolved the group proper earlier than the Eagles took nation rock mainstream. Nez was broke and despondent. He gave his 1972 solo LP the bitter title And the Hits Simply Carry on Comin’.

UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: (AUSTRALIA OUT) Photo of Michael NESMITH; posed group shot with First National Band. Michael Nesmith (2nd right) (Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns)

First Nationwide Band, circa 1973

GAB Archive/Redferns/Getty Photographs

“I used to be agonized, Van Gogh-agonized, to not evaluate myself to him, however I wished to chop one thing off,” he told me in 2018, “as a result of I used to be like, ‘Why is that this taking place?’ The Eagles now have the biggest-selling album of all time, and mine is sitting within the closet of a closed report firm?”

Discovering Nez’s Seventies albums earlier than the current wave of reissues required a little bit of searching, and once I lastly heard “Joanne,” “Grand Ennui,” and “Propinquity (I’ve Simply Begun to Care)” I used to be amazed. It was like discovering this entire different musical universe I by no means knew existed. I should have watched the “Rio” video 100 occasions, however I nonetheless laughed each time he took off into the sky like a human airplane with three ladies strapped to his again.

Within the Eighties, after inheriting his mom’s fortune, Nesmith invested in films like Repo Man and Tapeheads, and launched tasks like an NBC selection present, Michael Nesmith in Tv Elements. When MTV started re-airing The Monkees episodes in 1986, creating a wholly new era of followers, he declined the possibility to participate within the reunion tour as a result of he merely couldn’t break away from his many enterprise commitments. Because the years glided by and Sixties concepts about “authenticity” not resonated, the Monkees slowly grew to become cool, particularly when bands like Weezer, REM, and Dying Cab for Cutie began gushing about their affect.

Nez wasn’t round a lot to benefit from the revival. His public profile dimmed all the way down to virtually nothing within the Nineties as he devoted almost all of his time to quiet enterprise pursuits. That made his return to the band in 2012 all of the extra surprising.

We finally spoke on the phone in 2013, when the Monkees had been on the verge of launching one other tour. I advised him I at all times pictured him as a loopy recluse, and he simply laughed. “I’m not in the least reclusive,” he stated. “I like being with folks, and I like society and I like civilization and all of the accoutrements. I believe we’re all right here for one another.”

It was the beginning of a protracted interval the place I discovered myself speaking to Nesmith each few months, and seeing him play solo and with the Monkees at each likelihood I had. He was recreation for no matter subject I had in thoughts, whether or not it was a detailed breakdown of Monkees songs he wrote, his nontraditional memoir Infinite Tuesday, his newly-unearthed 1973 live album, his fraught relationship with Tork, or his obsession with Vaporwave, a fringe musical style I’d by no means even heard of till he defined it to me. (The common age of most fans is about 17.)

When he was in New York in 2016, we met up on the Loews Regency lodge. He’d simply come again from Comedian Con and excitedly confirmed me photographs on his telephone of Marvel followers in elaborate superhero costumes. We acquired into a protracted, philosophical argument about whether or not or not the Monkees had been even an actual band. To me, their origins didn’t matter, and so they had been as actual as any group I beloved. Nez felt in another way.

“All three of us have our personal concepts,” he said. “This being, ‘What is that this factor? What have we acquired right here? What’s required of us? Is that this a band? Is that this a tv present?’ While you return to the genesis of this factor, it’s a tv present as a result of it has all these conventional beats. However one thing else was occurring, and it struck a chord means out of proportion to the unique swing of the hammer. You hit the gong and instantly it’s big.”

I used to be disenchanted when he sat out the Monkees’ Fiftieth-anniversary tour that 12 months, leaving Tork and Dolenz to bang the gong as a duo. He agreed to come back again for a 2018 tour with Dolenz after well being points sidelined Tork, who died in 2019, however needed to go away shortly earlier than the New York date for emergency quadruple-bypass surgical procedure. I fearful that may mark the tip of his touring profession, however when we caught up on the phone a few weeks later, he assured me all was nicely.

“I used to be utilizing the phrases ‘coronary heart assault’ for some time,” Nesmith advised me in his first public statements after the surgical procedure. “However I’m advised now that I didn’t have one. It was congestive coronary heart failure. It has taken me 4 weeks to climb out of it. If anyone ever comes as much as you on the road and provides you [bypass surgery] without cost, flip them down. It hurts.”

Practically each farewell tour in rock historical past has been bullshit. They’re normally cynical ploys to suck cash out of followers which have grown uninterested in shelling out massive bucks to listen to the identical drained hits performed but once more. However when the Monkees stated they had been going to name it a profession after their tour this 12 months, I believed them. Half the band was useless, and Nez was pushing 80 and clearly prepared to hold up the inexperienced wool hat ceaselessly. He was beginning to look drained, and had seemingly developed an insatiable urge for food for marijuana. It got here up every time we spoke.

I flew to Los Angeles in September to be a fly-on-the-wall throughout rehearsals, with the plan of checking in each few weeks for a function on their final hurrah. However earlier than I even boarded the airplane, outrageous rumors about Nez saved filling my inbox from hardcore Monkees followers. That they had seen his alarming weight reduction in a sequence of movies he posted on Fb and that he appeared disoriented, confused, and extremely stoned. A disreputable gossip web site posted a sequence of nameless blogs saying that Nesmith was the sufferer of elder abuse. I began seeing the hashtag #SaveMikeNesmith in Fb feedback by among the extra fevered followers. “[He] is being starved, horribly abused, and gaslighted every day,” learn a typical remark.

I dismissed the whole lot I learn as typical web nonsense, however once I arrived on the studio area in Burbank, Nez was nowhere in sight and the band had but to put eyes on him. The tour launch in Spokane, Washington, was simply days away, and manager Andrew Sandoval was dealing with Nesmith’s vocals elements and main the band by the set. They ran by “Porpoise Track,” “Final Practice to Clarksville,” and “Steppin’ Stone” for an viewers of 1, and Dolenz’s vocals had been as sharp and pristine as ever, reminding me but once more he’s probably the most underappreciated singers in rock historical past. However I saved staring on the empty stool subsequent to him.

“Nez is beneath lots of stress,” Sandoval advised me later that morning in a makeshift workplace reverse the rehearsal corridor. “He desires to do the tour, however lots of people round him don’t need him to do the tour. There’s all this chitter-chatter on-line that’s very destructive. It’s robust.”

I requested in the event that they thought-about delaying the tour till Nez felt higher and Covid was additional within the rearview mirror. “I don’t know if there can be one other time on the calendar to do that,” Sandoval stated. “Time is occurring, and the window is closing to do that.”

This all sounded just a little ominous, and I used to be nonetheless attempting to course of it when Micky Dolenz poked his head in and requested me to hitch him for a drink within the foyer of his lodge.

LOS ANGELES - CIRCA 1967: Portrait session with Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith of the The Monkees circa 1967 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

The Monkees in 1967

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Photographs

Dolenz is the one Monkee to take part in each single reunion undertaking the band has undertaken. “I by no means resented being often called a Monkee,” he advised me between sips of pinot grigio. “Your profession is sort of a prepare that takes an infinite quantity of inertia to get it going. When it lastly will get going, some folks attempt to cease the prepare. These are the folks that you just see in live performance and so they go, ‘I’m not going to sing any of my previous hits. I’m going to vary my whole picture.’ They try to cease the prepare. Very seldom does that occur. It’s nearly unimaginable, and also you simply piss the followers off.”

“I knew after the Monkees I wouldn’t be getting any nice, juicy elements,” he continued. “And I wasn’t actually that . I went over to England, the place I wrote and directed reveals for years. After I got here again to the Monkees in 1986, I got here again with bells on. I used to be like, ‘Oh, my God, the Monkees! I keep in mind that!’”

The Monkees’ 1986 comeback tour was an enormous success, however there have been robust moments behind the scenes. They needed to pay Arista, which owned the Monkees trademark, a major sum to make use of the Monkees title every time they performed. (Rhino purchased it a couple of years later.) “That drove Davy insane,” Dolenz says. “We had countless arguments about it. He’d go, ‘However we’re the Monkees! We shouldn’t must pay!’ I’d say, ‘However David, if you wish to make a Batman film, you simply don’t exit and make a Batman film and use the emblem. You must make a take care of DC Comics.’ He by no means fairly acquired that.”

And even Dolenz had a tough time shaking his anger in the direction of Monkees creators Schneider and Rafelson for sharing little of the windfall they constructed from the group, as an alternative investing it in films like Straightforward Rider and 5 Straightforward Items, which turned them into Hollywood titans within the Seventies. “I depend myself fortunate I lived in England throughout that point,” stated Dolenz. “If I had been dwelling in L.A. and seeing Bob and Bert and all their fucking cash, it will have pushed me loopy.”

Earlier than we might delve any additional into Monkees historical past, tour supervisor Dan Mapp appeared at our desk and advised us Nez was in an upstairs room and wished to see us. Dolenz had seen him solely as soon as for the reason that pandemic began and was keen to inform him about rehearsals and minor adjustments they made to the present.

After we walked in, the room smelled strongly of weed and Nez was perched in a leather-based chair close to the window, wanting even slimmer than he did within the final Fb video. He was carrying a black sweatshirt with a marijuana-leaf emblem on the breast pocket. A masks dangled from one ear, and a margarita was in his hand. “I’m so drunk,” he advised us. “Maintain on.”

“God, it’s good to see you,” Dolenz beamed. “You look nice. You misplaced some weight.”

“I’ve trimmed down,” Nez stated. “And I’m fucked-up.”

The one different folks within the room had been Nez’s new assistant, Gretchen, and a younger girl named Melodie Akers, who labored for Nez for the previous few years. It was exhausting to not surprise about Akers’ precise function in his life, and the way in which she stroked his fingers made it appear to be she was greater than an worker.

Akers had a leather-based pouch stuffed with marijuana gummies and tiny plastic luggage of weed, however when Nesmith reached for it, she pulled it again. “You had an edible,” she stated. “You’re in fine condition … apart from, [your son] Jonathan doesn’t such as you stoned. In case you might maintain off till you see him, I believe he’d admire that. He’ll be right here quickly with [his wife] Susan.”

“She acknowledges me as a silly previous man,” Nez stated. “However I’m not a silly previous man. Something I provide you with that appears like enjoyable …” He stopped and moved onto a unique thought. “I preserve fascinated by boats on the water,” he stated. “I need to go to the Mediterranean for 10 days.”

Dolenz modified the subject to tour rehearsals. “The band is shit-hot,” he stated. “They haven’t dropped a beat.”

Nesmith was happy to listen to this, however horrified to be taught that longtime Monkees guitarist Wayne Avers was going to overlook the primary few weeks of the tour resulting from Covid-related nervousness. “Mick, can I assist him?” he requested, wanting completely devastated. “I’ve tens of millions of {dollars}!” (Avers joined up with the tour later and was positive.)

Gretchen headed out to cost up Nez’s Tesla, and Nez talked about he simply purchased Teslas for all of his kids. However he nonetheless had a fortune within the financial institution, and he wasn’t certain what to do with it. “I go searching and go, ‘How the fuck did I get right here?” he advised Dolenz. “Who was so good, so beneficiant to me in my life that I made it? There are folks on the market which can be chilly and hungry. I don’t know what I can do to assist them.”

Jonathan and Susan arrived and warmly greeted “Pops.” (The Nez conspiracy theorists stated he hadn’t been allowed to see his kids, however this was clearly ridiculous. His different son, Christian, additionally performs guitar within the Monkees touring band.)

UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: Photo of Nesmith Michael (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Nesmith within the Sixties

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Photographs

For the following two hours, I sat nonetheless on the sofa, and soaked up the scene. The dialog went from the potential of an official Monkees biopic or documentary to Dolenz’s love for revenge films like Taken and No person to John Wayne movies Nez has been watching on TCM. There was the form of easy rapport between Nez and Dolenz that solely previous associates can get pleasure from, and after they joked round it felt like lacking scenes from the Monkees TV present.

“I simply took Aaron Franklin’s MasterClass,” stated Dolenz. “I’ve develop into a gourmand chef. My speciality is …”

“Roadkill,” deadpanned Nez.

“It’s robust getting a great roadkill dinner,” stated Dolenz. “You must chase that shit down. However should you get a great roadkill groundhog with just a little béarnaise sauce …”

“And also you add just a little white wine to it,” stated Nez.

They began guffawing, and I assumed how wonderful it was that two males introduced collectively by tv producers in 1965 had been nonetheless selecting to spend their free time collectively, and the way a lot they appeared to genuinely love one another.

At rehearsal the following day, Nez was perched on a stool and studying the best way to work together with a teleprompter introduced in for this tour. He provided Dolenz some weed. “No thanks,” he stated. “I’m nonetheless excessive from 1967.”

The band launched into “Randy Scouse Git,” with Dolenz banging out the acquainted intro on the kettledrum, however Nez simply sat on his stool and stared on the floor. He seemed deflated. Akers sat close to him on a chair, wanting involved. “I’m going to exit again,” he stated when the music wrapped. “And smoke some dope.”

He got here again and so they kicked into “Circle Sky.” Nez sang it with stunning pressure, nevertheless it appeared to take quite a bit out of him. He picked up a guitar for “Papa Gene’s Blues,” however enjoying and singing on the identical time was clearly a problem, and his vocals suffered. They tried it once more with out the guitar, and he’d stay guitar-less for the remainder of the tour.

I headed to the airport the following morning fearful about Nez, considering a 10-week tour was means an excessive amount of for him. And the response from the press and followers to the early reveals was certainly destructive, with a heavy concentrate on Nez’s diminished state.

“I gave him the out many occasions,” Sandoval advised me a number of weeks later. “I stated to him, ‘Ought to I cancel the tour? What do you suppose?’ He stated, ‘No. I actually need to do it.’ I felt we should always go and do as a lot as we might because it was giving him a purpose to form of keep on. I felt in my soul this tour can be good for him.”

I requested Sandoval what precisely was ailing Nesmith. “Everybody may be very protecting of him, so no one actually wished him to go away his home through the pandemic,” he stated. “His means are nice sufficient that he can have folks convey him no matter. He sat and didn’t do a lot for a 12 months and a half.… His muscle tissue simply atrophied and he acquired actually weak.”

I introduced up the conspiracy theories circulating on-line. “The followers need consideration, particularly the followers which can be the propagators of these items,” he stated. “I really feel like they’re attempting to disgrace us into telling them extra about what’s occurring than I really feel they need to know. Every little thing they’re saying is unfaithful. However should you get down within the mud with them, and also you get nowhere, you simply get soiled.”

“What they write hurts my coronary heart,” he continued. “Their gripe is with one particular person, and it’s not Nez.”

He was speaking about Akers, and I requested how Nez first got here into contact along with her. “They met about three years in the past,” he stated. “She acquired concerned in some fan discussion groups and made his acquaintance after which began working for him immediately. She has labored prior to now as his private assistant, however she’s not truly an worker of the tour.”

I requested in the event that they had been courting. “I don’t perceive the extent of their relationship,” he stated. “That’s an sincere reply. They’ve by no means revealed something particular to me about that.” (Akers declined to be interviewed for this story. It ought to be famous that the portrayal of her by some followers bears no resemblance to the compassionate caretaker I had the possibility to satisfy. I discovered no reality in any respect to the ugly rumors on-line.)

On Oct. 24, I went to City Corridor to see the band’s closing New York Metropolis present. I held my breath when the lights dimmed, however Nez walked onto the stage with an enormous smile on his face, his physique not hunched over. He had a stool, however he opted to face the whole night time. The present was unbelievable, even when he misplaced observe of the lyrics a couple of occasions and Dolenz needed to leap in and save him.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 14: (L-R) Musicians Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith of The Monkees perform onstage during the final show of "The 55th Anniversary Farewell Tour" at The Greek Theatre on November 14, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images)

Dolenz and Nesmith through the closing Monkees present, at L.A.’s Greek Theatre, on Nov. 14

Scott Dudelson/Getty Photographs

Sandoval advised me he seen a shift with Nez when the tour hit Texas. “We had been sitting outdoors at Stubbs BBQ,” he stated. “Nez was telling tales at this desk, and I checked out him and noticed this mild in his eyes, and it was like seeing my pal once more. There was a very stunning second for me of going, ‘OK, this tour was an enormous, massive gamble, nevertheless it’s paying off. He’s again.’”

Earlier than the Huntington present on Oct. 28, I used to be escorted onto Nez’s bus. It was our first formal interview on the tour, and I knew I used to be going to must convey up some uncomfortable questions. However first I wished to ask about his emotions relating to the Monkees catalog. As recently as 2019, he was nonetheless dismissing it as “tv music” and stated he felt like he was “singing ‘Blissful Birthday’ again and again” at Monkees concert events. I had the sense he not felt that means.

“Individuals unjustly kicked us within the nuts again and again as a result of they considered it as vapid or no matter phrase you need to use there to point no creative return,” he stated. “However it isn’t. The extra I sing it, the extra I play it, the extra I notice that though the lyrics are pedestrian …”

He stopped himself and tried to collect his ideas, understanding this was vital. “I began off listening to my nice aunt’s report assortment,” he stated. “One report she had was the Mills Brothers’ ‘Until Then.’ The lyrics go ‘Sometime I do know I’ll be again once more/Please wait until then.’ It just lately dawned on me that it was ‘Final Practice to Clarksville:’ ‘And I don’t know if I’m ever coming dwelling …’”

Tears crammed his eyes as he recited the lyrics to the primary Monkees single. “After I begin to sing it, I get deep with emotion and all choked up,” he stated, his voice cracking. “I believe, ‘Wait a minute? Are we singing the identical music?’”

I identified the Boyce-and-Hart-penned music is deceptively profound because it’s a few man headed off to conflict who thinks he’ll by no means see his love once more. “That was missed with the Kirshner-ites,” he stated. “They tried to kill these songs, and never for some other purpose than they wished the territory.”

I stated Kirshner had no concept how willful Nesmith was when he first encountered him. “The company mentality that was at Display screen Gems and Columbia, lumping each of these entities collectively, was the stuff of legend,” he stated. “I didn’t know what to do with it.… They usually wished me to do something however nation music. That was exhausting.”

We shift into the farewell tour, and whether or not it means he’ll not be a Monkee when it ends. “I’m by no means going to stop the Monkees, not more than Paul McCartney will stop the Beatles,” he stated. “It’s simply not within the playing cards.” When he acquired the job 5 many years earlier, he presumed it will final no various months. “Ultimately I spotted this was some extent on the ceaselessly timeline,” he stated. “And that’s not a burden to me in any respect. It’s been a dream job.”

By this level, any lingering doubts I had that he was in a state of psychological decline had been gone. This was the identical Nez I spoke with almost a decade in the past. He was only a lot skinnier and just a little extra stoned. However I used to be nonetheless fearful about his well being, particularly when he advised me that, as a working towards Christian Scientist from start, he didn’t consider in medical doctors. I identified that he appeared to consider in medical doctors again in 2018 when he had the quadruple-bypass surgical procedure, which saved his life.

“That was as a result of my family members and kids had been terribly frightened,” he stated. “They went, [loud, whiny voice] ‘In case you don’t get this operation, you’ll die.’ Effectively, that’s fairly draconian. I assumed, ‘If nothing else, I’ll do that for them.’ However the concept that I used to be instantly using materia medica in a pristine subject of clear metaphysics … was jarring. I acquired as much as go away a few occasions, and so they pushed me again down into the mattress. My heart specialist was actually good, although. I provided to get him excessive.”

I requested if he tought a lot about Davy Jones and Peter Tork nowadays, and he took the query in an oddly mystical course. “I don’t actually course of that,” he stated. “I simply go away it to God to course of. I’ve a really robust sense of a common divine order. When that takes me over, life is heaven on Earth.”

He advised me he wished to start out rising his personal weed when the tour wrapped. He additionally advised me folks wanted to cease fixating on his well being. “The one factor that reveals up is the occasional headache, the occasional abdomen flu, the occasional foot rash,” he stated. “I’ve a gorilla-level crew of people that deal with me and this vital wealth that my mom left me … and proper now, I’m happier than I’ve ever been, besides once I was married to Victoria Kennedy.” (Nez dated Kennedy, a mannequin 26 years his junior, all through the Nineties, marrying her in 1999. She left him 2010. In Infinite Tuesday, he wrote that the divorce left him emotionally shattered.)

This appeared to be nearly as good a time as any to convey up the ridiculous rumors he’s been subjected to elder abuse. “I’m conscious of this,” he stated. “And I’m aghast. I need to be like, ‘What the fuck are you folks doing? I’m a human being. You may’t simply throw darts at me.’ And it’s all based mostly in a basic non-truth. I’m sitting right here. I’m positive! Please inform those who!”

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 10: Musician Michael Nesmith and wife Victoria Kennedy attending 21st Annual American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Awards Honoring Liz Taylor on March 10, 1993 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Nesmith and Victoria Kennedy in 1993

Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Assortment/Getty Photographs

I advised him that most of the lies revolve round Akers. “Let me see if I can parse this so it doesn’t harm her,” he stated. “She’s in blind panic lots of the time, and when she talks to followers they push her into that. They then suppose she’s acquired Nez tied down and he or she’s feeding him poison. How did that get began? It’s by no means been true.”

“No person is holding me captive,” he stated. “I do precisely what I need to do, particularly with my monetary situation and the whole lot else. I’m the traditional instance of a man that made it. I’ve nothing to complain about. Nothing in any respect.”

Onstage hours later, Nez introduceds the ultra-obscure 1969 Monkees music “Whereas I Cry.” It had by no means been performed reside till this tour.

“There have been moments in all of our lives the place we went all the way down to the basement … and we started to commune with these [Monkees] songs in a means I don’t suppose anyone knew,” he advised the hushed crowd. “I assumed, I want to put in writing one thing that may categorical what’s occurring in that lonely room enjoying these Monkees data by your self…. So I wrote this music simply to try to get at that second you’re at as a younger child fascinated by issues which can be simply imponderable.”

What adopted was probably the most intense moments I’ve ever witnessed in a live performance. It was Nez, weeks away from his loss of life, reflecting on the profound impression the Monkees had on their followers, one thing he solely began to grasp just lately. Actual tears crammed his eyes when he acquired to the tip of the music.

Ideas preserve turning spherical in my thoughts
Now I see purpose and rhyme.
Time spent with you has introduced me one thing
And I’ve misplaced nothing
If you’re that sort.
They advised me what you’d do
If I ever stayed with you
And certain sufficient,
It’s all come true.

The Monkees saga began lengthy earlier than I used to be born, and it lasted by the cancellation of their tv present, the alienation of their fan base with the 1968 psychedelic film Head, a military of critics that dismissed them as meaningless pop for kids, and even the deaths of Davy Jones and Peter Tork, in addition to Nez’s brush with loss of life earlier than his quadruple bypass. It didn’t really feel prefer it might ever finish.

When Nez’s crew referred to as me the morning of Dec. 10 to say that he’d died, I used to be shocked. Then my thoughts went to lots of locations. I considered him utilizing each ounce of vitality he had left in him to play 40 closing Monkees reveals, honoring a physique of labor he spent many years operating from. I considered him tearing up whereas reciting the lyrics to “Final Practice to Clarksville” on the bus, lastly seeing the wonder within the bubblegum. I considered the truth that no matter well being issues he was coping with on the finish, he had each proper to not share them with the general public. And I considered the second he grabbed my arm proper earlier than I left his lodge room again in September.

“Do you suppose that is the tip of an period?” he stated, staring me proper within the eyes. “It feels that strategy to me. It’s definitely the tip of the Monkees. That’s an enormous deal.”





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