Still rollin’ with the flow: Twists and turns with ‘smart Monkee’ Michael Nesmith

Jeremy Roberts
May 2, 2017 · 9 min read
Strumming a 12-string Sunburst Gretsch electric guitar, smart Monkee Michael Nesmith may be on the brink of running from the grand ennui in this pensive moment captured while the supposed “Pre-Fab Four” were sound checking at the Hollywood Bowl on June 9, 1967. Image Credit: Monkees.net / Rhino Entertainment
“See the lazy windmills slowly turning, cutting up the marble canyons of the sky:” A self-assured, 74-year-old Michael Nesmith promotes his debut memoir, “Infinite Tuesday: An Autobiographical Riff,” circa late March 2017. Fun fact: shortly after the stalemate of the Korean War, Nesmith’s mother Bette McMurray invented Liquid Paper. Decades later her savvy entrepreneur-inclined son pioneered music videos and has often been credited for jump-starting MTV. Image Credit: Photography by Myung J. Chun / The Los Angeles Times

The Michael Nesmith Interview

Circa November 11, 1968, a casually dressed, 33-year-old Elvis Presley signs autographs outside his 1174 Hillcrest home in Beverly Hills, California, probably not long after departing Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios where he was shooting “The Trouble With Girls.” Forty-five years later the provocative shot — incidentally a female admirer was airbrushed out — graced the cover of “From Elvis at American Sound Studio,” an album distributed by the late rhythm guitarist’s officially sanctioned collectors’ label, Follow That Dream Records. Image Credit: Photography by Sandi Miller / Sony Music Entertainment
Twenty-four-year-old newly married rocker Rick Nelson shields his eyes from an unrelenting sun for the album cover of “The Very Thought of You,” dropped with little notice during the onslaught of the British Invasion on August 3, 1964, via Decca Records. The bouncy title cut, a clever reimagining of a pop standard written in the 1930s and cut by Bing Crosby, was nearly Nelson’s final Top 30 single until the iconic “Garden Party” literally arrived outta nowhere eight years later. Image Credit: 45Worlds user Vidman45 / Universal Music Group
Pedal steel guitarist Red Rhodes, bassist John London, partially obscured drummer John Ware, and Michael “Papa Nez” Nesmith constitute the First National Band in this revealing 1970 candid, possibly taken during a television taping due to the confined stage area. Image Credit: The Dana Harris Rhodes Collection
Papa Nez tackles a guitar riff on his ubiquitous Black Beauty Gibson Les Paul at the RCA Music Center of the World recording studio in Hollywood circa 1971. Image Credit: Videoranch3D
Papa Nez embraces his inner cowboy as he defiantly wears a psychedelically inspired Nudie suit circa 1972, actually also worn to the premiere of the Monkees’ commercially underwhelming “Head” film in November 1968. The image also appears on the European CD reissue coupling “Magnetic South” and “Loose Salute.” Image Credit: Camden International / Sony Music Entertainment
On August 5, 2016, Michael Nesmith mischievously clutches a pair of mustard yellow Converse sneakers backstage during a rare guest appearance on the Monkees’ 50th Anniversary Tour at the Golden State Theater in Monterey, California. Image Credit: Photography by Gemma “Coco” Dolenz, younger sister of Micky Dolenz
Watch Michael Nesmith and the First National Band deliver Latin-influenced ballad “Lady of the Valley”, released on the “Loose Salute” album in December 1970. Listen for Red Rhodes’ memorable pedal steel guitar solo and Papa Nez’s ethereal, multilayered vocals. Music Credit: Sony Music Entertainment; Video Credit: YouTube user Todd Leopold

Jeremy Roberts

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Retro pop culture interviews & lovin’ something fierce sustain this University of Georgia Master of Agricultural Leadership alum. Email: jeremylr@windstream.net