Michael Nesmith was born in Houston and grew up in Dallas. He served a stint in the airforce and began working on a musical career while attending classes at San Antonio College. He moved to Los Angeles, and began performing at folk music clubs. He began writing and publishing songs and recorded a few singles beginning in 1963.
Mike and Davy had each recorded singles for Colpix Records before they auditioned for the Monkees but never met before their auditions. Screen Gems bought Mike’s from Colpix songs so the Monkees could use them. Filming and recording for the group began in 1965 and kept Michael busy for a few years. He still had time to write some songs on each Monkees’ album and Different Drum, which was a hit for The Stone Poneys Featuring Linda Ronstadt in 1967.
By 1969, NBC had canceled their television show and the disaster that was their feature film Head was behind them. Mike began forming a new group he named The First National Band.
Mike left the Monkees in 1970 after recording some contractually required ads for Kool-Aid and Nerf balls and began recording with his new band for RCA Victor. His band recorded and released three albums in 1970 and 1971. The music was much closer to Country Rock than the music Michael had recorded with the Monkees. The first single release was Little Red Rider. The Monkees had recorded a version of the song in 1969 that went unreleased until 1996. The new version credited to Michael Nesmith and the First National Band was recorded and released in 1970 but failed to chart.
The second single from their first album did better, although not nearly as well as Monkees’ singles had done. Michael had written Joanne, and the single reached #21 on the Hot 100 and #6 on the Adult Contemporary chart.
Their second album contained the single Silver Moon. The record peaked at #42 on the Hot 100 and #7 on the AC chart in 1971. The next single barely made it to #70 on the Hot 100 and missed the AC chart completely. No singles reached the Hot 100 after that. Juggling the group’s members and renaming the group The Second National Band did not improve the results of his recordings.
Mike found success after that when he created the cable show PopClips in 1979. The Nickelodeon show featured a veejay and played videos for pop singles and eventually led to the creation of MTV. He also won the first Grammy for Video of the Year in 1982 for his production of the one hour show Elephant Parts.
In 1985, Michael hosted the NBC show Michael Nesmith in Television Parts. The weekly show combined videos and comedy sketches.
Various combinations of the four Monkees toured from time to time, and when it was convenient, Mike sometimes briefly re-joined the group in concert.
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