Michael Nesmith: The Monkees have already wrapped up Australian tour

Nesmith, whose exit was confirmed by email earlier this month, is believed to have felt ‘there was little more to be done’ Last month Monkees frontman Michael Nesmith said he was leaving the band….

Michael Nesmith: The Monkees have already wrapped up Australian tour

Nesmith, whose exit was confirmed by email earlier this month, is believed to have felt ‘there was little more to be done’

Last month Monkees frontman Michael Nesmith said he was leaving the band. Now it has emerged he has already wrapped up two Australian tour dates in August with Mickey Dolenz, who was first announced to replace him.

The group’s manager claims Nesmith’s decision to walk away was “something he had thought about for a long time”. Ray Bolger, however, the Monkees’ bassist and principal producer, said there is “no way” the 63-year-old will continue singing into the new millennium.

“There’s a degree of normalcy back in the group now,” Bolger said on a newscast, alongside Dolenz. “That’s not to say that Michael isn’t a part of it. But there’s no way that he’s going to tour into the next century.”

The Monkees in 1968. Photograph: MGM

Many observers were surprised at Nesmith’s decision to leave the Monkees, whose original incarnation – originally called the Davy Jones Blues Band, featuring Jones and Nesmith – began recording and performing in 1966. When it became apparent the group was faring poorly in the studio, they released a single called I’m A Believer. The American singer-songwriter Neil Diamond wrote the title track.

The track, which features guitar from Mick Fleetwood, became a hit in the US and worldwide. The group’s appearance at the Woodstock festival a year later made them overnight sensations.

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The Monkees signed an £80,000 recording contract with Castle Records, but the amount is thought to have been substantially increased by the US singer-songwriter Paul Anka. Another US guitarist, Buddy Holly, wrote songs for The Monkees that have endured long after their singer’s death, though it is claimed they would not have been recorded if they had remained a four-piece.

It was reported earlier this month that Nesmith, who was among the group’s original members, was leaving “partly to avoid the inevitable dispute over the future direction of the group”. However, Bolger said that Nesmith’s departure was “something he had thought about for a long time”.

“Michael had some important creative thoughts, and he decided that it was better to go out on top,” Bolger said. “It will be difficult to find a replacement who can play as well as Michael. We still have a long career ahead of us.”

Last month, Nesmith said he was proud of his time in the Monkees. “I hope to live long enough to see the Monkees cross the generations,” he said.

The Monkees had seven number one singles in the US, and two further top-20 hits in the UK and Australia. Two albums, Heads of State and Flavour of the Month, were also among the most popular in their respective nations.

“In the late 60s there was a series of shows – Happy Days and The Monkees – that came out, and it just made people excited about music,” Bolger said. “A new band had arrived, and Michael and I immediately started writing songs and recording with friends.”

The Monkees in 1968. Photograph: MGM

Nesmith recently turned to the songwriting circuit, collaborating with members of 3 Doors Down and the singer Jay Leno. It is his most recent release, titled Last October, which was released in February.

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