Michael Nesmith Taps Into Texas Roots for Stagecoach

Former 'Monkee' lived in Palm Springs in the late 1960s

Michael Nesmith, who made his mark with The Monkees, will make his debut at Stagecoach Music Festival this weekend.

Photos by Alexandra Battaglia


The first song Michael Nesmith ever wrote was a lullaby for his mother.

The ones he penned in the 1960s were recorded by Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and, of course, The Monkees.

The Monkees launched Nesmith’s career as a pop musician. However, in his real life, he is a Texas born, country rock ‘n roller. Drawn to music “since birth,” his path never strays far from his first passion, country rock music.

Nesmith makes his Stagecoach Music Festival debut performance April  25-27.

A former Palm Springs resident, Nesmith is a “real desert lover” who will always “return to music, drawn by an inner fire and the joy of live performance.”

Touring this summer with The Monkees and then on his own again in the fall, he is a musical troubadour who loves his craft.

Nesmith, 71, took the time for a rare interview with Palm Springs Life.

Have you ever spent any time in the Coachella Valley area? If so, do you have any fond memories?  
​"I had a home Palm Spring for a couple of years in the late 1960's. I am a real desert lover.​"

Will you perform any special songs at Stagecoach?
"​I plan on playing my solo Country Rock song up to and including my newest material. I enjoy all the traditional songs and particularly Country Rock. But among my favorites to play and sing is Rio, and it is very far from a country tune."

You created a promo music video for Rio in 1982, which won a Grammy for first long-form video, then subsequently started Pop Clips, which became a new channel called MTV. What inspired you to take the idea to the next level?  Do you consider yourself a musical entrepreneur?
"​When I made Rio I didn't fully understand what I had -- and frankly neither did too many other people. It was a time for exploring possibilities and the thought kept coming to me to think of this as a "video" rather than as a short film or a television piece. From there I thought about what might be an equivalent to this video -- like radio was to records. From that point of view it seemed obvious the answer was television, but these videos would need their own channel, thus MTV.​ A fortunate train of thought, not really entrepreneurial."

As a country musician from Texas, did being a part of such a famous TV pop group like The Monkees ever feel like it hindered or changed your music career path?
​"The Monkees were more of a television attraction than musical, and the music sort of surprised everyone at how well and broadly it was accepted. It was very different than the music I was making as a solo artist, so the two never really crossed. Overall, I think of The Monkees as helpful and it was a great way to spend my youth.​"

You’re planning a Monkees summer tour and the doing another solo tour in the fall this year... what do you look forward to most on these upcoming tours and how has performing changed for you throughout the years?
"​Performing itself is the reward, playing to an audience and sharing the same state of mind. There is no other art form like it, and it is very satisfying to me as an artist. Performing today has the best sound and technology that has ever been, traveling is comfortable, and being on the road can be an inspiring time.​"

Throughout your years touring with The Monkees, do you have any favorite memories or moments performing or taping a certain show with them?
​"I particularly enjoyed filming a segment called "the Fairy Princess". I got to play the lead and play it in drag. It was great fun as far as Monkees shows went.​"

If you could do one thing differently in your life looking back, what would it be and why?
"​I am well satisfied. Can't think of a thing I would change. I have a lot to be grateful for, and I am.​"

Like what you're reading? Then "Like" us on Facebook and "follow" us on Twitter.

Add your comment:
Desert Guide

Related Articles

10 Things to Do This Weekend in Palm Springs

Palm Springs Life helps plan out your weekend in Palm Springs and the desert resort cities with concerts, events, restaurants, nightlife, clubs and the world of entertainment only found in the desert.

Explore Palm Springs: Jack Freeman Serves Up the Stars

In the 1930s, Jack Freeman's time at the Village Pharmacy in Palm Springs brought him in contact with stars like John Wayne, Rudy Vallee, and William Powell.

12 Places to Dine During Dog Days of August in Palm Springs

August in the Palm Springs area means some restaurants close, but which ones remain open? We've put together a list of a dozen with a table waiting for you.

Rocket Fizz Offers Blast From the Past Candy, Soda

Rocket Fizz has moved to downtown Palm Springs,recreatings the candy store once the epicenter of every child’s sweet dreams.

Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs Unleashes "Top Rock" Entertainment

New music, new dance numbers and special effects highlight the return of the "Top Rock" musical tribute show to the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs.

Promotions + Contests

90 Days of Summer Romantic Palm Springs Getaway 2014

90 Days of Summer Romantic Palm Springs Getaway 2014

Experience the beauty, romance and excitement of the Palm Springs area when you enter to be the lucky winner of this romantic couple’s getaway
90 DAYS OF SUMMER Instagram Contest 2014

90 DAYS OF SUMMER Instagram Contest 2014

Win a fabulous Palm Springs weekend!

Win a fabulous Palm Springs weekend!

Each month, a first place winner will be selected to win a fabulous Palm Springs weekend!And, each month, three additional runners up will be selected to win a wonderful Palm Springs area Dining certificate!
2013/14 Best of the Best

2013/14 Best of the Best

Palm Springs Life’s annual Best of the Best. Readers tell us who their choice is for the “Best of the Best” of the Coachella Valley in over 40 categories.
Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.
Pets on Parade 2014 Photo Contest

Pets on Parade 2014 Photo Contest

Enter your “Cutest Pet” photo in the Pets on Parade 2014 Photo Contest. Online users will be able to like the Cutest Pet photos from six (6) categories.