Michael Nesmith trades The Monkees for achievements in enchantment.
Mike Nesmith may have hung up his wool cap and put his days as a member of The Monkees well behind him, but he certainly hasn’t left the entertainment scene. In fact, he is just about solely responsible for the popularity of music videos and home video entertainment!
Born on December 30, 1942, in Dallas (Actually Houston), Texas, Mike first became interested in rock ’n’ roll while still in high school. He moved to Los Angeles and was introduced to the music world by hosting the Monday night music shows known as hoots at the famed Troubador. It was the lauching pad for such talents as Stephen Stills, Neil Young, and Linda Ronstadt. During this time, Mike responded to an ad in Variety that sought musicians for a comedy TV series. Mike auditioned and along with Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones and Peter Tork, he became a Monkee.
The show, of course, became a smashing success and the foursome became the hottest recording act since The Beatles. The series’ successful three-year run ended in 1969, but Mike went on to launch an impressive songwriting career. He scored million-selling singles with “Different Drum” sung by Linda Ronstadt and “Some of Shelley’s Blues” by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. His own first single was the million-selling “Joanne.”
The true turning point in Mike’s career, however, was the release of the album From a Radio Engine To The Photon Wing. Along with the album, he released a music video called Rio that was a true breakthrough in the new art form. Rio won maior film awards and was shown throughout the world. But the success of Rio didn’t surprise Mike. He has always felt that part of The Monkees’ success was due to their use of music and images. “We were totally a video group” says Mike.
With the success of Rio, Mike began to explore the new medium he helped pioneer. He formed Pacific Arts and became the new wave guru of video. The crowning glory was a 60-minute music video called Elephant Parts that revolutionized the industry. The flashy music video helped pave the way for MTV, and showed that there was a big market for home video. “The relationship between the television and the viewer has changed dramatically,” Michael said of the growing video industry. “Now you can play your television set.”
Michael’s involvement with Pacific Arts and exploring video continues up to this day. His busy schedule prevented him from touring with The Monkees during last summer’s explosive reunion tour, but he did join them on stage for one show in Los Angeles.
Currently living in Carmel, California, with his wife Kathryn, Mike has no plans to join the various Monkee projects in development. For the moment, at least, he seems content to develop his own projects. “To me, one of the most important fuctions [sic] of art is to enchant,” he says. And millions of fans have been enchanted with the magic of Michael Nesmith.