Michael Nesmith, born December 30, 1942 in Dallas, Texas, is an American musician, songwriter, actor, producer, novelist, businessman and philanthropist. His mother, Bette Nesmith Graham, was a typist and commercial artist who invented Liquid Paper.
He began his recording career with a two singles recorded under the name Michael Blessing, and later one of his songs, "Different Drum," was successfully recorded by Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys. Then from 1966-1969 he was a member of the pop rock band The Monkees, which was created for a television situation comedy also called The Monkees. As a member of the group, Nesmith's trademark was that he always wore a wool cap. He was "the smart Monkee," much as John Lennon was "the smart Beatle."
After leaving the group, Nesmith went on to record a number of critically acclaimed record albums, first of all with the First National Band, then the Second National Band, and finally as a solo artist. His earlier albums had a distinctly country music feel to them, anticipating the "alt-country" movement of the 1990s, and included such hits as "Silver Moon" and the perennial favorite, "Joanne". His 1977 album, From A Radio Engine To The Photon Wing, included the song "Rio", for which he created a very influential music video.
Exploring the world of video production further, he created a television program called Pop Clips for the Nickelodeon cable network. Time Warner later developed it into the MTV network. Nesmith won the first Grammy Award (1981) given for Video of the Year for his hour-long Elephant Parts and also had a short-lived series inspired by the video called "Television Parts". He founded a company, Pacific Arts Video, which was a pioneer in the home video market, producing and distributing a wide variety of videotaped programs. Pacific Arts eventually ceased operations after an acrimonious contract dispute with PBS over home video rights and payments for several series, including Ken Burns' The Civil War. On February 3, 1999, a jury awarded him $46.8 million in compensatory and punitive damages, prompting his widely-quoted comment, "It's like finding your grandmother stealing your stereo. You're happy to get your stereo back, but it's sad to find out your grandmother is a thief."