Michael Nesmith, who rose to fame as a member of the Monkees in the 1960s, has died at age 78, reports Variety. “With Infinite Love we announce that Michael Nesmith has passed away this morning in his home, surrounded by family, peacefully and of natural causes,” his family tells Rolling Stone in a statement. Nesmith's death leaves Micky Dolenz as the group's lone surviving member. Early obituaries for Nesmith stress the same theme—he had serious musical chops despite the goofy nature of the made-for-TV group. In fact, Rolling Stone notes that Nesmith led the ultimately successful fight for the group to play their own instruments and write their own songs as they grew popular. Previously, studio musicians did the heavy lifting.
Nesmith—who sang and played guitar, usually in his trademark green wool hat—was the most prolific of the Monkees, writing songs including “Mary, Mary" and “Circle Sky.” Also of note: During this era, he wrote the song "Different Drum," which became a big hit for Linda Ronstadt. After the band split, Nesmith went on to form the well-regarded country-rock group First National Band, notes Deadline. Over the years, he refuted the notion that he regretted his time with the Monkees. “Quite the contrary,” he told Rolling Stone in a 2013 interview. “It was a fun for me, and a great time of my life. I mean, where do you want be in the '60s except the middle of rock and roll, hanging out with the scene?" (Read more obituary stories.)