Michael Nesmith

Active - 1968 - 1989  |   Born - Dec 30, 1942 in Houston, Texas, United States  |   Died - Dec 10, 2021   |   Genres - Comedy

Share on

Biography by Sandra Brennan

Multi-talented Michael Nesmith has come a long way from playing the quiet Monkee in the little wool cap on the popular 1960s sitcom The Monkees. Since then he has proven himself an innovator in musical genres and music videos -- his work in the latter area led to the creation of the MTV network. Nesmith is also a movie and television producer. Born in Houston, TX, Nesmith is the son of Bette Nesmith Graham, the woman who invented Liquid Paper correction fluid. Before auditioning for The Monkees in 1965, Nesmith had served a two-year stint in the Air Force, worked as a backup musician in Nashville, performed in a Los Angeles-based folk-rock duo with his friend John London, composed songs, including "Mary, Mary" and "Different Drum," and recorded a few singles. While with the Monkees, Nesmith wrote several of their hits and helped persuade the Monkees' "handlers" to allow them to produce their own records. He left the television group after completing their only feature film, Head (1968), to form his own band and then launched his solo career. In 1977, he designed a new television show called Popclips, in which he utilized live music clips while counting down the week's chart-toppers. The show is credited for inspiring the genesis of MTV. Nesmith's mother died in 1980 and left him half of her Liquid Paper fortune (worth over 20 million dollars). Nesmith then launched his own record and film production company, Pacific Arts, which became the number one source of American music videos in the '80s, and won the first Video Grammy for it in 1981. In the late '80s, Nesmith made his own filmmaking debut with the inventive music video "Elephant Parts." He reunited with the Monkees and continued to occasionally perform with them. In 1997, he and the group appeared in an hour-long television special and also released a new album, Justus.

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography


  • His mother, Bette, invented Liquid Paper, which was a necessity for typists the world over in the pre-computer age.
  • Taught himself guitar after a stint in the Air Force.
  • One-fourth of the Monkees, the mid-1960s pop band created for the TV music-comedy series The Monkees.
  • The Monkees topped the singles chart with "Last Train to Clarksville," "I'm a Believer" and "Daydream Believer," and had four No. 1 albums. 
  • Put his fist through a wall during a 1967 argument with Monkees' music coordinator Don Kirshner over the band's artistic direction, which they had no say in at the time. 
  • Headquarters, the first album the Monkees had control over, hit No. 1 in June 1967 for a week, then stayed at No. 2 for 11 weeks (behind the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band).
  • Wrote the 1968 Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys Top 20 hit "Different Drum."
  • Left the Monkees in 1969.
  • Helped establish music videos with the 1977 TV chart show Popclips. Warner eventually bought the idea from him and turned it into MTV.
  • Founded Pacific Arts, a communications and music company, in 1974; it became an important video-publishing company during the 1980s.
  • Reunited with his fellow Monkees for the 1996 album Justus.