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Monkees’ Michael Nesmith recuperating after heart surgery; plans to resume touring in September

A photograph of musical artist Michael Nesmith on stage. Credit: Andrew Sandoval
The Monkees’ Michael Nesmith, shown performing with his First National Band Redux at Pioneertown in January, is recuperating from quadruple bypass heart surgery.
(Andrew Sandoval)

The Monkees’ Michael Nesmith says he is “back to 80%” following recent quadruple bypass heart surgery after he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.

The singer, songwriter and guitarist had been touring with longtime band mate Micky Dolenz doing “The Monkees Present The Mike & Micky Show” when he began experiencing shortness of breath that progressively worsened.

After the pair’s June 21 performance in Philadelphia, tour organizers announced the rest of the dates were being postponed because Nesmith was suffering an unspecified illness.

He went home to Carmel, Calif., where his doctors discovered the heart condition and scheduled him for surgery.

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“I was using the words ‘heart attack’ for a while,” Nesmith told Rolling Stone this week. “But I’m told now that I didn’t have one. It was congestive heart failure. It has taken me four weeks to climb out of it. If anybody ever comes up to you on the street and offers you [bypass surgery] for free, turn them down. It hurts.”

Tour organizer Andrew Sandoval posted on his Facebook page Thursday, “The last month has been utter hell seeing my friend suffering. So many people were demanding answers, but it was simply a time for healing and privacy.

“The information age has caused too many to be pushy and inconsiderate. This guy is a member of my extended family and I am so thrilled to hear the happiness in his voice now and the eagerness to play his beautiful songs for the people.”

Nesmith’s son, and the leader of his solo tour outings, Christian Nesmith, said on his Facebook page: “Full anesthesia is some scary stuff and the most difficult thing for me was watching him climb out of that hole mentally. It’s like ‘Is he ever going to be his old self again?’

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“Well, not only is he himself but, from where I stand, at 4 weeks after the surgery this last Monday, he’s healthier, more energetic, and clearer than when he went in,” Christian Nesmith wrote.

One of Nesmith’s postponed shows with Dolenz — a stop in Red Bank, N.J. — has been moved to March 5, and the other three are expected to be rescheduled soon.

Meanwhile, he said he expects to be fully recovered in time to take on a new series of shows beginning in September with his reconstituted First National Band, performing material from his critically lauded country-rock solo albums in the early ’70s.

This tour is slated to open Sept. 7 in Houston and extend through Sept. 23 in Ridgefield, Conn.

Nesmith, 75, rolled out the First National Band Redux idea early this year with inaugural performances at Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown and then at the Troubadour in West Hollywood. The Troubadour was the venue where Nesmith emceed “hoot nights” in the early and mid-1960s, a fertile time in L.A.’s folk-country-rock music scene that gave rise to the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Linda Ronstadt & the Stone Poneys, Poco and others that blended country and rock into a vibrant new amalgam.

The Troubadour show was recorded and is being released on CD and vinyl ahead of the next round of concerts. “Michael Nesmith & the First National Band Redux Live at the Troubadour” consists of 21 tracks, with the vinyl edition including a bonus track of his 1977 hit “Rio.” Full information is available here.

In his essay for the album’s liner notes, Nesmith writes, “I’ve never been happier with a record. I’ve never been more proud and pleased to get it out in front of people and play it and leave it with the people in their care. It’s at the top of my form. It’s the best I can do. So if I die now… that was it, guys.”

randy.lewis@latimes.com

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