Hearts are breaking all over America today as we learn of the tragic loss of one of the most iconic and beloved music and TV personalities of our lifetimes. Peter Tork, vocalist, keyboardist, and bassist for the campy yet endearing singing foursome known as ’The Monkees’ passed away after battling a rare form of cancer for more than a decade.
“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"
The news came as a shock to anyone who lived through the turbulent ’60s and used music to help them get by. Fan-favorites and lovable heartthrobs to teenage and pre-teen girls of the 1960s, "The Monkees" were an unparalleled sensation to not only the music world but also to television audiences.
Tork, who starred on the beloved ’60s television hit with his partners, Mike Nesmith, Mickey Dolenz, and Davy Jones, was known as the dimwitted yet lovable component of the famous foursome.
"While 'The Monkees' ran for only two seasons, it won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy and resulted in massive record sales, highly sought-after merchandising and world tours known as 'Monkee-mania'. According to one report by the Washington Post, The Monkees sold 35 million albums in 1967 — 'twice as many as the Beatles and Rolling Stones combined'.”
Fox News reports, “'The Monkees' was initially a made-for-TV-band that became a worldwide phenomenon after its two-year run (1966-1968). The NBC series told the hilarious misadventures of a struggling rock band, described as a “manufactured version of the Beatles,” where Tork was its lovable Ringo.”
The band topped the charts with such hits as "Daydream Believer," "Last Train to Clarksville," and "I'm a Believer."
After the Monkees had run its course, Tork took a stab at a solo career. He struggled to make a new name for himself, apart from the dizzying fame he experienced with Nesmith, Dolenz, and Jones.
Tork admits that he had a difficult time making peace with his fame in the ‘manufactured’ band because he wanted to be a ‘real’ musician. He became determined to steer clear of anything that had to do with his former life. After moderate success with another band and as a solo artist, Tork had a change of heart.
Eventually, the other boys managed to convince Peter that people had very fond memories of “The Monkees” and what they contributed to entertainment.
“With the help of reruns and album reissues, a growing interest in the Monkees ultimately compelled Tork to embrace the music group. He would go on to join them for major reunion tours about once each decade, beginning in the mid-‘80s.
“Tork is survived by his wife Pamela Grapes, a daughter named Hallie from his second marriage, a son named Ivan from his third marriage, a daughter named Erica from a relationship with Tammy Sustek, as well as a brother and sister.”
Coming full circle after his initial rebellion against the seemingly-manufactured fame of 'The Monkees' Tork finally came to terms with the entire experience.
“This is not a band,” Tork told Britain’s Telegraph in 2016. “It’s an entertainment operation whose function is Monkee music. It took me a while to get to grips with that but what great music it turned out to be! And what a wild and wonderful trip it has taken us!”
Hollywood stars and music industry luminaries reached out today through social media to pay tribute to a one-of-a-kind talent.
“There are no words right now...heartbroken over the loss of my Monkee brother, Peter Tork.”
“I can only pray his songs reach the heights that can lift us and that our childhood lives forever — that special sparkle that was the Monkees." -Michael Nesmith on Peter Tork's death
“So sorry to hear we lost #PeterTork. The Monkees never got the respect they deserved. Their music catalogue remains one of the richest in Pop History. Thanks for being such a big part of my childhood & beyond, Pete.”
Partridge Family star, Danny Bonaduce:
“Peter Tork and I were often compared as the two great tv bassists. The big difference, Peter could really play. And play many instruments. He was an underrated musical genius and will be sorely missed.”
Brady Bunch star Maureen McCormick:
“Heartbroken to hear of the passing of the sweet Peter Tork💔 Such a fan of Peter’s music and #TheMonkees . His music has brought such joy into this world and will live on forever. My heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. We will miss you. Rest In Peace Peter.”
Rest in peace, Peter. We thank you for all the joy you brought us during your all-too-short time on this earth. We will miss you.
Please enjoy this video of 'The Last Train to Clarksville' performed by America's very own Fab Four, The Monkees: