Michael Nesmith tributes wife, announces he’s retiring Monkees tour

A Beatles-esque pop band that never quite became the phenomenon their adoring fans hoped for in the 1960s, The Monkees are still playing. Fans have been streaming through their concert hall in Salt Lake City, Utah, seemingly never understanding that it’s been 60 years since they last stepped on stage. Michael Nesmith, the 64-year-old remaining member from the wild, wild 1960s musical group, performed a four-night run at the Eccles Theater — one he announced would be his last ever.

The Utah dates, along with a handful of other concerts Nesmith performed overseas in the months before, were almost finished just weeks before a June 26 concert announcement. A tragedy struck. His wife, actress and performer Linda Thompson, was killed in a single-car accident near her home in Colorado. The team says her death “tore the band apart.”

Nesmith’s manager, Karen Joynt, told FOX411 she spoke with Nesmith the day after his wife’s death and was touched by how devastated he was. “He was just crushed. You could not imagine what a shock it is, losing someone so close. I saw him later and the first thing he said was that she died on her 20th birthday. That was enough for him to get through the tour, and he went out on top.”

The Monkees were an all-star, music industry band formed in 1966 with Nesmith, Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork, all hugely popular performers in their own right. They’d already cracked America’s hearts in the late 1960s, thanks to the success of “I’m a Believer” and other band hits, and then topped that with the release of an extraordinary, musical Broadway show. An album, Christmas in the United States, brought them yet another hit. The group received that Kennedy assassination news, in early 1968, when they were abroad and distraught by the news on their return home. They released an album from that period, “1963 to 1968.”

Despite watching “The Monkees Live” documentary and his own concerts, Nesmith said it was difficult for him to grasp the reality of his band’s former popularity and to handle the responsibility that came with it. Nesmith said he tried to get past it by focusing on his family, by focusing on performing and by not dwelling on what had happened to Davy Jones. He said he was shocked to find himself repeatedly fans coming up to him and thanking him.

During the four shows in Salt Lake City, Nesmith performed, as he has since The Monkees got together for a tour in 1968. He bounced around the stage like an old man, backed by a long curtain and a sound system that matched his age. It was a bizarre night, as he played with stick figures, which morphed into real people at night. He fell into some of the same feeling of nostalgia that the audience had, remembering when they watched him perform in the 1960s and when he did concerts in Salt Lake City years ago. But the legacy of The Monkees seemed to loom large in the room when that was recognized. Nesmith played his iconic Monkees hit “I’m a Believer” with a flourish at the end of the show.

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