Peter Tork, former Monkees bassist and keyboardist, died Thursday. He was 77.
The musician was best-known as the wise-cracking dummy in the fictitious TV rock band. He became a teenage heartthrob in the late-1960s thanks to his endearing personality and lovable character.
The Monkees released a number of worldwide hits in their prime, including: Daydream Believer, Last Train to Clarksville and I’m a Believer. Since their inception, the four-piece have sold more than 75 million records across the globe.
Tork’s passing was confirmed by his sister Anne Thorkelson on Thursday morning. The cause of death is currently unknown, but he was diagnosed with a rare tongue cancer in 2009 — adenoid cystic carcinoma.
Tork wrote a blog piece for the Washington Post about his diagnosis after beginning treatment in 2009. Through most of the 10 years since, he had been able to resume an active musical life, participating in Monkees reunion shows as recently as 2016.
He even recorded his own solo albums, the last of which, Relax Your Mind, came out in early 2018.
A statement regarding his passing was posted to Tork’s official Facebook page by one of his close friends.
“Our friend, mentor, teacher, and amazing soul, Peter Tork, has passed from this world,” the spokesperson wrote.
It is with beyond-heavy and broken hearts that we share the devastating news that our friend, mentor, teacher, and…
Some of Tork’s close friends also expressed their sorrow over social media, including Micky Dolenz, 73, his former Monkees bandmate.
— Micky Dolenz (@TheMickyDolenz1) February 21, 2019
I’m sad to hear about Peter Tork passing. I thought The Monkees were great and Peter will be missed. Love & mercy to Peter’s family, friends and fans. pic.twitter.com/NquzjTmtFx
— Brian Wilson (@BrianWilsonLive) February 21, 2019
While The Monkees were a manufactured, television-centric, American version of the Beatles, as depicted in A Hard Day’s Night, Tork and fellow guitarist Mike Nesmith were serious musicians who paid their dues on the folk and rock scenes of the early 1960s.
Lead vocalist Davy Jones and Dolenz (the drummer) were former child actors. Tork played the “Ringo Starr” role in the group; acting as a charming and goofy comic foil.
Longtime fans across the globe, young and old, took to Twitter to share their condolences and memories of Tork.
RIP, Peter Tork. 🙏 Condolences to his family and loved ones.
Peter was so adorable! I loved the Monkees when it reran in the 70s. Thank you for all the fun. Now I want to watch the Monkees again. https://t.co/z9YKy3dKcW
— Ming-Na Wen (@MingNa) February 21, 2019
I was born in the 70's so for me, the Monkees came before the Beatles and had no credibility issues. RIP Peter Tork.
— J. Elvis Weinstein (@JElvisWeinstein) February 21, 2019
Many folks don't know that Peter Tork and Stephen Stills came up in the Greenwich Village coffeehouse scene together. Stills even auditioned for the Monkees, but was rejected for having bad teeth. RIP Peter, you seemed like a gentle soul. pic.twitter.com/lmV0BBFKTm
— Steve Silberman (@stevesilberman) February 21, 2019
I love The Monkees. Peter Tork was a legit great musician and songwriter. The group was assembled by TV producers but their talent was very real. RIP
— Carl Newman (@ACNewman) February 21, 2019
♥️ Peter Tork 🎸🎤☀️💫 https://t.co/fuqBz03D95
— Peri Gilpin (@GilpinPeri) February 21, 2019
So sad Peter Tork has died , he was my favourite Monkee 😞. pic.twitter.com/7AjiH2mdCR
— Judith hewitt (@Fluffysocks1993) February 21, 2019
Peter Tork's passing is a reminder that it's an absolute crime that the Monkees aren't in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.
— Stephen Thomas Erlewine (@sterlewine) February 21, 2019
I can't believe he's really gone. Such a gentle soul. God speed Peter Tork……..rest well. Thank you for the wonderful music. pic.twitter.com/hMX4BUFEYp
— Cyndy (@cyndy316) February 21, 2019
RIP Peter Tork
Always my favourite Monkee pic.twitter.com/pHwFrUoj5w
— Tom Reagan’s Hat (@RufusTSuperfly) February 21, 2019
RIP, Peter Tork. So much more than a Monkee, but that would have been enough.
— Jeff Cohen (@JeffCohenwriter) February 21, 2019
We are vey sorry that we have no words right now.
Peter Tork xxoo pic.twitter.com/ed9Ogv4Ec7
— Davy Jones Love (@DavyJonesLove_) February 21, 2019
The Monkees should have been a disposable manufactured lark, immediately forgotten, but instead they made a classic TV show and great pop music that will last forever. I had the honor of meeting Peter Tork, such a nice guy. Rest In Peace.
— Frank Conniff (@FrankConniff) February 21, 2019
Hard to believe, but, in terms of pop culture, there was a time when the Monkees were as big as anything. RIP, Peter Tork.
— Dan Jurgens (@thedanjurgens) February 21, 2019
So long Peter Tork. pic.twitter.com/nqZKBvlczc
— DänielNöthing (@DanielNothing) February 21, 2019
Our hearts are broken.
Peter Tork. Rest in peace, brother. XO pic.twitter.com/maxToKgwq3
— Papa Nez (@Papa_Nez) February 21, 2019
While The Monkees enjoyed enormous chart and box-office success in the wake of the television show, the group grew weary of not being taken seriously.
They gradually took on the instrumental and songwriting work on their recordings and made a dramatic split with their past on the uneven and very psychedelic 1968 album and film Head, which baffled fans and largely failed to introduce them to a new audience.
The group split not long after, reuniting periodically over the years.
Tork was the second member of The Monkees to pass away. Jones tragically died on Feb. 29, 2012 as a result of a severe heart attack brought on by arteriosclerosis.
The remaining members, Nesmith and Dolenz, still perform together under the moniker The Mike & Micky Show. Nesmith, 76, was hospitalized in 2018 after undergoing quadruple-bypass heart surgery.
Tork is survived by his wife Pamela Grapes, and their three children, Hallie, Ivan, and Erica.
— With files from Reuters
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