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PETER TORK,
1942-2019

Peter Tork, the folk musician who gained fame as the comic foil and bass guitarist in The Monkees, died today in Mansfield, Conn., at the age of 77.

His son Ivan Iannoli told the Hartford Courant the  cause was cancer. Tork had been treated 10 years ago for a rare form of neck and head cancer.

His death was confirmed on the Peter Tork Facebook page operated by his family and friends. It read: “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.”

Tork has been active musically since receiving multiple treatments in 2009, performing on Monkees reunion tours and releasing two solo albums over the last six years. He said in interviews last year he was working on a blues project.

A native of Washington, D.C., Tork was active in the Greenwich Village folk scene in the early 1960s. A musician friend, Stephen Stills, had auditioned for a TV series about a rock band that lived together, and he had recommended Tork as a possibility; the producers were looking for a Nordic blonde who could play the role of a comic goofball.

The most gifted musician of the bunch, Tork was the first Monkee allowed to play an instrument on Monkees’ albums in addition to the studio musicians. Most often seen in the series playing bass  guitar, he also played keyboards,  guitar and banjo on Monkees records, contributing the piano intro to “Daydream Believer” and the banjo on “You Told Me.” Tork also wrote songs for the group, the best-known being “For Pete’s Sake.”

In the mid-‘60s, The Monkees had four albums reach #1 and toured extensively until the end of 1968 when Tork resigned from the group and the series, buying out the remainder of his contract. Tork tried his hand at a solo career and entering the film business in the first half of the 1970s but eventually became a school teacher.

In 1976, he reunited with fellow Monkees Mickey Dolenz and Davy Jones for a one-off show and Christmas recording. A decade later, the three embarked on a 20th anniversary reunion tour without Michael Nesmith, recording Pool It!  for Rhino Records.

In 1997, after years of balancing Monkees duties with outside band projects, the quartet reunited to record a second album for Rhino, Justus. Tork, Dolenz and Jones toured until 2001, breaking up for a decade before embarking on a 45th anniversary trek. Jones died in 2012.

Tork, Nesmith and Dolenz last recorded as The Monkees for 2016’s well-received Good Times!, which featured Tork’s “Little Girl” and contributions from Adam Schlesinger, Neil Diamond, Andy Partridge and others. They last performed together at Pantages Theatre in Hollywood in September 2016.

 

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