Mike Nesmith Confesses The Monkees ‘Were Not Brothers or Especially Close’ Despite Their Happy on-Camera Personas

Mike Nesmith historically never shied away from discussing what it was like to be a part of The Monkees‘ mayhem of the late 1960s. He never shied away from the complexity of being part of a group created by a television production company. However, despite all their time spent working together, Nesmith confessed the band “were not brothers or especially close.”

Peter Tork, Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, and Mike Nesmith on the set of 'The Monkees' television show in the late 1960s.
Peter Tork, Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, and Mike Nesmith | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Mike Nesmith put words to music about his Monkees experience

In a 2016 Rolling Stone interview, Nesmith spoke of the longtime fan-favorite song, “Tapioca Tundra.” He said that his experience as a Monkees member inspired the song’s words.

“The Monkees were playing live by this time, and the lyric to this was inspired by that,” he said. “These were big concerts, like 20,000 people. The three of us were playing, me, Micky, and Peter. Davy [Jones] played tambourine or maracas.”

Nesmith discussed how playing live changed the group for the better. “It was the audience,” he explained. “They were there to bring this thing into reality, to make actual what the television show had portrayed. It was really about them. The lyrics come from a post-concert realization of the reality that had just occurred, The Monkees coming to life as the audience.”

Despite the bond they appeared to share, Nesmith said The Monkees ‘were not brothers or especially close’

In a separate 2013 Rolling Stone interview, Nesmith explained that when the band was offstage, the bond between the band members appeared to end. He reflected on his Monkees past and described the band’s off-stage dynamic.

“But in terms of what I can tell you, David and I didn’t have any problems. We worked together just fine. And you know, the three of us get together for a big hug before we go onstage,” Nesmith explained.

He continued, “So did the four of us, as long as David was there. We’d all stand and huddle, giving each other a hug. We had a little chant, and we’d go onstage.”

“We were not brothers or especially close, but we were good, solid, professional workers and companions, and it was a harmonious workspace. And it was an arduous and difficult production, and we had to do things that were hard to do, but we got along just fine,” he reflected many years after the Prefab Four’s demise.

He shared the best advice veteran performer Davy Jones once gave him

Mike Nesmith and Davy Jones in concert in Australia.
Mike Nesmith and Davy Jones | Fairfax Media via Getty Images
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Jones gave Nesmith some advice that had served him well throughout his career, particularly when instructed to do things in a way he perhaps disagreed with. The singer understood the nature of the business, having been a seasoned musical theater performer by the time of his 1966 Monkees audition.

David continually admonished me to calm down and do what I was told,” said Nesmith to Rolling Stone. “His advice was to approach the show like a job, do my best, shut up, take the money and go home.”