The Tape of Mike Nesmith Singing The Monkees’ ‘I’m a Believer’ Is Lost Forever

Mike Nesmith was supposed to sing on The Monkees‘ “I’m a Believer.” Subsequently, Micky Dolenz recorded the vocals on the track. A writer revealed something went wrong during the “I’m a Believer” recording session.

The Monkees' Davy Jones, Peter Tork, Micky Dolenz, and Michael Nesmith in black-and-white
The Monkees’ Davy Jones, Peter Tork, Micky Dolenz, and Michael Nesmith | NBC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images

The Monkees’ Mike Nesmith punched through a wall at The Beverly Hills Hotel

Bobby Hart co-wrote many of The Monkees’ songs. In his 2015 book Psychedelic Bubble Gum: Boyce & Hart, The Monkees, and Turning Mayhem Into Miracles, Hart discussed an infamous incident when Nesmith punched a wall. His recollection of events is not the same as others.

According to Hart, the band was upset because they wanted more input into their music. Their music supervisor, Don Kirshner, decided to meet them at his suite in The Beverly Hills Hotel. There, he tried to assuage the group with a check for almost $250,000. 

Nesmith said he was upset with The Monkees’ recording process. He was told his contract gave him no control over the issue. In response, an enraged Nesmith punched through the wall of the hotel room and said he could’ve punched Kirshner’s face instead.

An author said the incident was related to The Monkees’ ‘I’m a Believer’

Andrew Sandoval authored The Monkees: The Day-by-Day Story of the 60s TV Pop Sensation. In a 2021 interview with Rolling Stone, he said he read some legal documents relating to the band. “It had been written for years that Michael Nesmith punched his fist through the wall and there was this discord with The Monkees,” he said. “I never knew exactly why. There had been stories that it was about one thing or another. What I got from the paperwork is Don Kirshner’s point of view, Davy Jones’ point of view, Micky Dolenz’s point of view, and Michael Nesmith’s point of view.

“I found that it was rooted in the production of their biggest hit, ‘I’m a Believer,'” he said. “It was all about something that had gone on while making that song. Originally, Michael Nesmith was going to sing lead on that song, and I had no idea. The actual reel where he’s singing didn’t survive, but I managed to find photos of the session.” 

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Mike Nesmith left the session and ‘I’m a Believer’ became a massive hit

Sandoval discussed the way Nesmith acted during the session. “You can see his mood change time [as] goes by,” he said. “I found out that he left the session quite early and Micky went and sang it, and it became one of the biggest-selling records of 1967.” The song was ranked 5th on Billboard‘s list of the most popular songs of 1967.

“I’m a Believer” is one of the group’s most famous hits even if Nesmith didn’t get to sing on it.