The Monkees Co-Founding Member Peter Tork 1942 – 2019
The Monkees multi-instrumentalist Peter Tork has died at age 77. Peter’s sister, Anne Thorkelson confirmed Tork’s death with no cause provided. Tork had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2009.
Peter Halsten Thorkelson was born on February 13, 1942 in Washington D.C. He began studying piano at age nine and soon learned how to play a number of different instruments. Tork spent the first half of the ’60s in New York City as part of the burgeoning folk scene in and around Greenwich Village. It was there he met Stephen Stills, who gave producers of a television show about a band living together Peter’s name. Tork auditioned and won the role as one of four members of the Monkees, a fictitious band put together for the NBC sitcom The Monkees.
While Tork was a proficient musician, producer Don Kirshner limited his role in the studio during the recording of the first few Monkees albums. The television show ran from 1966 to 1968 and was introduced to a new generation by constant re-airings on MTV in 1986. Peter’s band mates were Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith and Davy Jones. The quartet scored a number of hits in the ’60s including “Daydream Believer,” “I’m A Believer,” the theme to the television show and “Pleasant Valley Sunday.” According to Wikipedia, the Monkees sold more than 75 million records.
The Monkees fought for and eventually won control of the production of their musical output. Peter, Micky, Michael and Davy continued on with the group after the sitcom was canceled and appeared in the 1968 cult classic film Head. Tork, citing exhaustion, quit the band in 1969. In 1986, the keyboardist/bassist took part in a 20th anniversary tour with Dolenz and Jones. He went on to mix work on his solo career with Monkees tours ever since. Read a note shared on Tork’s official Facebook page:
It is with beyond-heavy and broken hearts that we share the devastating news that our friend, mentor, teacher, and amazing soul, Peter Tork, has passed from this world. As we have mentioned in the past, the PTFB team is made up of Peter’s friends, family and colleagues – we ask for your kindness and understanding in allowing us to grieve this huge loss privately. This page will remain open for your use in sharing your thoughts with your fellow fans and hopefully helping you through your own grieving journey, however the team will not be available for some time as we start to mend our own hearts and calm our minds.
We want to thank each and every one of you for your love, dedication and support of our “boss.” Having you in our world has meant so very much to all of us. Please know that Peter was extremely appreciative of you, his Torkees, and one of his deepest joys was to be out in front of you, playing his music, and seeing you enjoy what he had to share. We send blessings and thoughts of comfort to you all, with much gratitude ~ptfb team
JamBase sends its thoughts to Peter’s friends, family and fans.