Turns out, there’s life after the Monkees.
In an age where long-awaited on-trend retirements and musical tragedies have become just part of the joke, the rumor was confirmed by a tweet from Chicago-based comedian Amy Lange. In a tweet posted Tuesday, Lange wrote that Monkees singer and guitarist Michael Nesmith had died.
The tweet was accompanied by a photo of the Emmy-winning singer looking serious as ever in front of the back wall of his living room.
I can confirm @MichaelTheMonkey has passed.
More information to come!
May peace be with you Michael Nesmith ❤️🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/PVkQRDrVuU — Amy L. Lange (@AmyLange) July 30, 2018
Lange’s post has been retweeted more than 13,000 times as of Tuesday evening.
In fact, Nesmith has been relatively quiet of late, as he has taken a break from releasing music and moving around the country.
He told Billboard in 2011 that he and his wife were back in California after a four-year trek across the U.S. that took them to 27 states, with a stop in China. He has never found a use for a bus and was more comfortable driving his own hybrid vehicle, he said.
He also released the book “Monkees Meet: An Exploration” in 2011.
His role in the Monkees, the storied band that was hugely popular in the 1960s but almost no one watched once the TV show ended in 1974, was that of “leader,” someone who voices and manages the others in the band, Lange said.
Nesmith’s role in the band is closely tied to his Monkees bandmate Davy Jones, who died at the age of 68 in 2012 from a heart attack, said Lange, who met Nesmith when she began working as a Monkees historian in 2001.
But Nesmith and Jones really weren’t that good as a band, she said. Nesmith was part of the original idea for the band, she said, but wanted to bring in someone younger to keep his place in the group. In the group, Nesmith sang a lot and bassist Peter Tork was more musically savvy, she said.
And Jones was really hot-headed, she said. That’s why Nesmith, who had grown up learning how to play guitar with his father, gravitated toward that genre, she said.
In 2017, Nesmith’s appearance in an episode of “Smash” about the development of “the evolution of Broadway” was kind of a mixed bag, Lange said. The four-part episode, in which Nesmith played a former singer turned agent who helped create “The Music Man,” got mixed reviews.
While Nesmith’s character played a big role in the show, Lange said he felt like he was the butt of the joke.
“I hated him,” she said. “He was such a throwback to the 1950s. But I still thought it was cool that they revived his career, because he wasn’t doing too well in real life and he got some publicity. I still think it was really fun.”
More recently, Nesmith has focused on recording with producer Steven Dowling. He has a deep catalog of songs to choose from, Lange said, and if his appearance in a Monkees episode was a little tone-deaf, that has actually helped him.
“It made him a little more relevant in the world,” she said. “So he’s pretty cool now.”