Nesmith’s family announced his death yesterday (December 10), saying in a statement he had “passed away this morning in his home, surrounded by family, peacefully and of natural causes”. He was 78 years old.
In a video posted to his Instagram account, the Death Cab For Cutie frontman explained he had become “really good friends” with the musician over the last “five, six years since I wrote a song for them”. “I just wanted to play a couple of his songs for you guys because I feel the best way to remember musicians is to play their music,” he added.
Gibbard first covered ‘Different Drum’, which Nesmith wrote in 1964 and was recorded by several different artists including Nesmith himself and The Greenbriar Boys. It rose to fame after The Stone Poneys and Linda Ronstadt released a version of it in 1967 and has since been covered by the likes of The Lemonheads, Me First And The Gimme Gimmes and The Replacements’ Paul Westerberg.
Between songs, the musician reflected on the last time he had seen Nesmith and the news of his death. “He was not in good health this last couple of years,” he said. “The last time I saw him was in June – his spirit was there, he was still very funny and very personable as always, but he didn’t seem like he was doing too great physically.
“So the news today is sad but not entirely surprising. I just felt, instead of posting with crying emojis or heartbreak emojis, I’d just play a couple of his tunes for you guys. It’s just the right way to do it, I think.”
Elsewhere in the short set, Gibbard played versions of ‘The Crippled Lion’ and ‘Joanne’, which Nesmith recorded with his band The First National Band, as well as The Monkees’ ‘You Just May Be The One’ and ‘Me & Magdalena’. The latter was written by Gibbard for the band and appeared on their 2016 album ‘Good Times!’.
“The fact that New and The Monkees recorded this tune of mine – it’s truly one of the greatest songs of my life, let alone my career,” he said of that song. “I grew up watching the show and I grew up with the records on in our family house cos my dad was a huge Monkees fan.” Watch the full video above now.
Nesmith was one of the original members of The Monkees’, playing guitar for the band as well as contributing songs like ‘Listen To The Band’ and ‘Mary, Mary’. He had recently embarked on a Monkees farewell tour with Micky Dolenz, who is now the sole surviving member of the group.
“I’m heartbroken,” Dolenz wrote on Twitter after news of Nesmith’s death broke. “I’ve lost a dear friend and partner. I’m so grateful that we could spend the last couple of months together doing what we loved best – singing, laughing, and doing shtick. I’ll miss it all so much. Especially the shtick. Rest in peace, Nez. All my love, Micky.”