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Michael Nesmith 12/21

December 30, 1942 – Robert Michael Nesmith was the only child of Warren and Bette Nesmith, who divorced when he was four. Bette remarried and relocated to Dallas where, as executive secretary at Texas Bank and Trust, she developed her own typewriter correction fluid. In 1979, a few months before her death, she sold her Liquid Paper Corporation to Gillette for $48m. Her son and heir finally acquired financial freedom.
Rewind 20 years to find a teenage Nesmith dabbling in music and drama at school before enlisting in the US Air Force in 1960. Two years later he was honorably discharged at his own request, swapping mechanics for music. Cutting his teeth in touring folk, country and rock’n’roll bands, he moved to Los Angeles.

A publishing and recording deal followed, yielding a handful of underperforming solo singles. Nesmith joined the queue of 437 hopefuls to audition for a part in a new TV show, inspired by The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night, about a co-habiting pop band. The producers wanted Nesmith and his hat for their Prefab Four, The Monkees.

Admiring Jimi Hendrix chops in a shared bedroom

Monkeemania ensued but Nesmith was quick to push back against the bubblegum material selected by the show’s musical director Don Kirshner. Nesmith negotiated alongside his bandmates for greater control of their output and image. Their subsequent psychedelic film and soundtrack, Head, was a flop (though later lauded as a cult favourite). Still the piece of the puzzle that didn’t fit, he bought his way out of his contract several years early, forfeiting future royalties.

Robert Michael Nesmith was raised by his mother, Bette, who supported him by working as a secretary. Frustrated creating mistakes on her electric typewriter, she developed a typewriter correction fluid. The invention later became Liquid Paper. Bette Nesmith sold the Liquid Paper Corporation to Gillette in 1979 for $48 million. She died a few months later, at age 56, with Michael inheriting the fortune.

Mike Nesmith, the beanie-hatted quiet man of The Monkees, was an accidental trailblazer from a family of accidental trailblazers. He came late to music-making, only picking up a guitar in his early twenties. Yet in a matter of years he was a (somewhat ambivalent) pop star and TV celebrity, then an unsung country rock pioneer and then the man who invented MTV for the guys who invented MTV. Not bad, and maybe not surprising, for the son of an imprecise typist who created Tipp-Ex to cover her errors.
Nesmith never quite made a commercial killing from his almost clairvoyant creativity. While his own songs were hits for the likes of Linda Ronstadt, Run DMC, Frankie Laine and Lynn Anderson, he struggled with fame in a fictional band whose best-loved tunes flowed from the pens of other writers.
The Monkees’ TV show ran for two series from 1966-68 but acquired pop immortality through school holiday repeats. The band members – Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork and Nesmith – played fictionalised versions of themselves. The Monkees struck popular music with hit songs like “Last Train to Clarksville”, “Daydream Believer” and “I’m A Believer.” The group was created for television, starring in their popular TV sitcom and later spin off motion picture “Head.”
The Monkees broke up in 1969, after which Nesmith formed his First National Band. He also wrote the song Different Drum, which became a major hit for singer Linda Ronstadt.

Nesmith founded Pacific Arts, a multimedia production and distribution company, in 1974. Pacific Arts pioneered the home video market, but collapsed in a dispute with PBS over licensing rights. A federal jury eventually awarded Nesmith $47m in 1999. After filming a music video for his 1977 single Rio, Nesmith came up with the idea of a TV program consisting entirely of music videos. Nesmith called his idea PopClips, which aired on Nickelodeon in 1980. He later sold the PopClips intellectual property to Time Warner, who used it to develop and launch MTV. Intrigued by the promotional possibilities of the embryonic format, Time Warner bought the rights and used it as a template for MTV. 

In 1981, Nesmith won the first Grammy Award for Video of the Year for his hour-long television show, Elephant Parts. He was also an executive producer of the film Repo Man (1984).

Nesmith’s involvement in various Monkees reunions was sporadic, however, he did rejoin his three amigos in 1996, marking the band’s 30th anniversary with the Justus album and accompanying TV special ‘Hey, Hey, It’s the Monkees’, before contributing to the 50th anniversary album Good Times!
The Monkees continued with occasional reunion tours despite the loss of original members Peter Tork and Davy Jones. Remaining members Nesmith and Micky Dolenz ended a tour just weeks before Nesmith’s death. The final date of the tour was held on November 14, 2021, at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles.

Michael Nesmith crossed the rainbow on December 10, 2021

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Graeme Edge 11-21

Life long drummer for the Moody Blues

Born on March 30, 1941  in Rocester, Staffordshire, Edge co-founded The Moody Blues in 1964 in Birmingham, England, along with original band members Denny Laine, Clint Warwick, Mike Pinder and Ray Thomas.

His mother worked in silent movies as a pianist whilst his father, grandfather and great-grandfather all worked as musical hall singers.

He first moved into the music industry himself as the manager of the Blue Rhythm Band and whilst he did try his hand at the drums from time to time, he only started playing the instrument professionally when he was forced to step in for the drummer, who had quit the group.

In 1964 he formed the original blues-rock band the Moody Blues with Mike Pinder, Ray Thomas, Denny Laine, and Clint Warwick who in January 1965 produced the smash cover hit “Go Now”. (Bessie Banks original)

In the years following, Edge’s influence as a poet who happened to be a drummer as well, moved the band towards the prog rock genre, which they defined as no other group, giving direction to later outfits such as Yes, Barclay James Harvest, Electric Light Orchestra and others. Justin Hayward, who joined with John Lodge in 1966, credits Edge as the one who kept it all together for so may years.

“Graeme and his parents were very kind to me when I first joined the group, and for the first two years he and I either lived together or next door to each other,” Mr Hayward said. “We had fun and laughs all the way, as well as making what was probably the best music of our lives.”

“In the late 1960’s we became the group that Graeme always wanted it to be, and he was called upon to be a poet as well as a drummer,” said Hayward; “He delivered that beautifully and brilliantly, while creating an atmosphere and setting that the music would never have achieved without his words. I asked Jeremy Irons to recreate them for our last tours together and it was absolutely magical.”

Edge’s drumming and spoken word poetry was instrumental to the band’s biggest hits in their “classic” era of the ’60s and into the ’70s, including “Nights in White Satin,” “Tuesday Afternoon,” and “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band).”

When The Moody Blues went on hiatus from 1974 to 1977, Edge traveled around the world on his yacht and also recorded two solo albums, “Kick Off Your Muddy Boots” (1975) and “Paradise Ballroom” (1978), inspired by his visit to the Caribbean.

In 1978, the band reunited for the album “Octave,” after which they pivoted from prog-rock to a more synth-pop sound in the earlier ’80s. Around this time, Edge linked with a jazz-combo group formed of various musicians from London’s club scene, called Loud, Confident and Rong.  In my opinion, he was one of the most consistently solid British ‘60’s music drummers who continued to perform and record original music right up until late 2017 when The Moody Blues performed a special “Days of Future Passed” concert in Toronto, Ontario, Canada , which was recorded at The Sony Centre Theatre for the Performing Arts.

Graeme composed many of the songs and wrote poetry for The Moody Blues albums along with his fellow band mates Justin Hayward, John Lodge, Mike Pinder, Ray Thomas and Denny Laine and along with Adrian Gurvitz (Baker-Gurvitz Army), Graeme wrote the songs, recorded the music and performed with his own band..”The Graeme Edge Band”.

After suffering a stroke in 2016, Edge retired from touring in 2019. Yet he remained an official member of The Moody Blues until his death, nearly 60 years after its founding.

“When Graeme told me he was retiring I knew that without him it couldn’t be the Moody Blues anymore,” said Hayward in his statement. “And that’s what happened. It’s true to say that he kept the group together throughout all the years, because he loved it.”

In 2018, The Moody Blues was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Their last album was released in 2003. They have sold more than 70 million albums to date. Overall, Edge recorded 16 studio albums with The Mood Blues, ending with 2003’s Christmas-themed “December.”

Graeme passed away from metastatic cancer on November 11th, 2021 at the age of 80 at his home in Bradenton Florida. He had been living there for more than 20 years as he called the area, the last hold out of hippiedom.

Edge, who has married and divorced twice, is survived by his wife, as well as his daughter, Samantha Edge; his son, Matthew; and five grandchildren.

Several fans, musicians and musical institutions paid tribute in the wake of Edge’s passing.

“Graeme was one of the great characters of the music business and there will never be his like again,” Hayward concluded. “My sincerest condolences to his family.”

“Edge’s mystical poetry on the Moodies records created flights of fantasy and otherworldly journeys for generations of fans,” the The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame posted on their official Facebook page with a video of Edge’s speech at The Moody Blues’ induction ceremony.

Rod Argent of The Zombies, The Moody Blues’ rock contemporaries, also shared a statement on the “very sad” news. “Way back in the mid sixties we were invited to a couple of the legendary Moody Blues parties in Roehampton – where the original band had a house – and we particularly remembered how much Graeme, along with the rest of the band, was just so welcoming and hospitable,” he reminisced. “That quality was something Graeme never lost.”

Kiss frontman Paul Stanley tweeted “RIP Graeme Edge” and shared a memory of an “EPIC” performance he attended in 1970. “Sounded just like their recordings. NOBODY could touch them at what they created and to this day you know them as soon as you hear them.”

Bassist John Lodge posted a statement of his own on the band’s official website. “To me he was the White Eagle of the North with his beautiful poetry,” he wrote. “His friendship, his love of life and his ‘unique’ style of drumming that was the engine room of the Moody Blues. … I will miss you Graeme.”

I was fortunate enough as a young kid, to see the original Moody Blues perform Go Now live in the studio in 1965 and was totally blown away. Seven years later I witnessed their genre metamorphosis with an unbelievable concert at Hammersmith-Odeon in London where they performed their perennial hits Just a Singer in a Rock and Roll Band, Tuesday Afternoon, Nights in White Satin, The Story in your Eyes and all the rest. And even though in my deepest heart I am a blues-rocker, I have always kept a soft spot for the Moody Blues, Supertramp and several of the progressive rock and underground formations.