Peter Tork of The Monkees dead at 77

The wise-cracking guitarist of the 1960s pop sensations had rare tongue cancer

Peter Tork: role in the band’s TV adventures was as a goofy, dopey comic foil. Photograph:  Gabe Palacio/ImageDirect

Peter Tork: role in the band’s TV adventures was as a goofy, dopey comic foil. Photograph: Gabe Palacio/ImageDirect

 

Peter Tork, bassist-and-singer of 1960s pop sensations The Monkees, has died aged 77. The actor and musician was best known as the keyboardist and bassist in the popular TV pop-group, which achieved widespread fame in the 1960s.

Tork’s death was confirmed in a statement posted on the official Facebook account of the US TV star, who was born in Washington DC in 1942.

Tork was described an “amazing soul” by those close to him.

The statement said: “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.

“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.”

Monkees members Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith paid tribute to Tork. Dolenz said he was “heartbroken”. “There are no words right now ... heart broken over the loss of my Monkee brother, Peter Tork,” he said. Nesmith wrote on Facebook: “Just got the news that Peter died. I am heartbroken.”

Songwriter Dianne Warren was among others to pay tribute to Tork, tweeting: “Oh no RIP Peter Tork. Thank U for giving me your love beads (it was the 60s!) when I was a little girl.”

Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys wrote: “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.”

The Monkees: Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork, Davy Jones and Mickly Dolenz. Photograph: Reuters
The Monkees: Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork, Davy Jones and Mickly Dolenz. Photograph: Reuters

Tork became part of the thriving folk scene in Greenwich village, before auditioning for a planned series about a fictitious pop four-piece.

The series became The Monkees, and Tork was the slightly goofy keyboard and bass player, alongside Dolenz, Nesmith, and the late English singer Davy Jones.

After their formation in 1966, the made-for-TV group had number one hits with I’m A Believer, Daydream Believer, and Last Train To Clarksville soon after they were established.

Following The Monkees, Tork worked in collaboration with several musicians including George Harrison, for whom he played banjo. There followed an unsuccessful period with band Release, and a spell in prison for drugs possession.

He later took part in reunion tours with The Monkees.

He was diagnosed with a rare form of tongue cancer in 2009. – PA

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