Peter Tork, best remembered as an actor and musician with the Monkees, has passed away at age 77, according to a report from The Washington Post. The sad news was confirmed on February 21, 2019, by Peter’s sister, Annie Thorkelson. Peter was diagnosed with rare tongue cancer in 2009, but that has not been confirmed as the cause of death as of this writing.
Born Peter Halston Thorkelson, he first appeared on TV screens in 1966 with The Monkees, which also starred Mike Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, and the late Davy Jones. The band was promoted as America’s answer to the Beatles with episodes featuring interludes of the band’s chart-topping hits such as “Daydream Believer” and “Last Train to Clarksville.” Peter began his musical career as a folk singer in New York’s Greenwich Village before his friend Stephen Stills (of Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young) tapped him for the role on the show. As Peter explained in an interview with The Journal Times in 2005, “The story goes that the producer told Stephen that he wanted to ask him, but he couldn't because Stephen's teeth and hair weren't telegenic enough. When Stephen tried to think of someone with better teeth and hair, his old friend Peter was the first to come to mind.”
The Monkees were an immediate hit with teens and the at-first fictional band became very real as they toured the globe. Although they were infamously accused of not playing their instruments, the band was determined to prove everyone wrong with their third album Headquarters, which was heavily written, performed, and produced by the band. After two seasons, the show ended and the Monkees released a feature length film, Head, which was co-written by then-unknown actor Jack Nicholson. The psychedelic movie was misunderstood at the time, but has since become a cult classic. Peter later appeared in episodes of Boy Meets World and 7th Heaven, but focused more on music with his own band, Shoe Suede Blues, and touring for decades with Micky and Davy as the Monkees.
Peter penned several songs for the band throughout their career, including “Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again?” and “For Pete’s Sake,” and the latter also served as the closing credits song for the second season of the show.
Our thoughts are with Peter’s loved ones and fans as we mourn this loss.