Peter Tork of the Monkees dies at age 77 -
The Monkees with Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz perform at the Palais in St Kilda as part of their 50th anniversary tour on Wednesday 7 December 2016 photo by Ros O'Gorman

The Monkees with Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz perform at the Palais in St Kilda as part of their 50th anniversary tour on Wednesday 7 December 2016 photo by Ros O'Gorman

Peter Tork of the Monkees dies at age 77

by Paul Cashmere on February 22, 2019

in News

Peter Tork, the Monkees bass player and backing singer, has died at his home in Mansfield, Connecticut after a 10 year battle with cancer.

Peter was an accidental addition to The Monkees. He went to the audition to support his friend Stephen Stills who was after the gig. Stills didn’t have the look for television and was asked if he knew anyone more photogenic. He suggested his friend Peter who got the job in the made-for-television band.

Tork had already built a solid reputation as a musician doing the Greenwich Village circuit in the early 60s.

Because The Monkees were a manufactured group made for a television sitcom they were not allowed to play the instruments on their records. Tork became an exception to that rule. He was the only Monkee playing on the first record in the song ‘Papa Gene’s Blues’.

Tork was also a songwriter and co-wrote the closing them to the show ‘For Pete’s Sake’.

Peter broke more of The Monkees musical rules and played the piano on the into to ‘Daydream Believer’ as he got more involved in the records.

After The Monkees Peter contributed banjo to George Harrison’s 1968 ‘Wonderwall’ soundtrack. He then started his own band ‘Peter Tork And/Or Release’ with girlfriend Reine Stewart. That was followed by a series of music business failures including a record and production company Breakthrough Influence Company.

Peter spent three months in an Oklahoma penitentiary for drug possession in 1972. He took a teaching job in Santa Monica’s Pacific Hills School in the mid-70s before reuniting with Davey Jones and Mickey Dolenz and songwriters Boyce & Hart for a show at Disneyland in 1976. Later that year he and Jones recorded and released a Christmas single.

In 1985, Peter and Davy toured Australia (and played show like Shellharbour Workers Club in Wollongong). The following year Mickey Dolenz joined them for a 20th anniversary concert.

Peter was diagnosed with adenoid cystic cancer, a rare head and neck cancer in 2009. In was given the all-clear following treatment and in 2011 went on tour with Davy and Mickey for the 45th anniversary tour.

In 2016 all four original Monkees (including pre-recorded pieces from the late Davy Jones) made ‘Good Times’, the first Monkees album in 20 years. ‘Christmas Party’, built around the same team, was released in 2018.

In a statement, Mickey Dolenz said, “There are no words right now…heart broken over the loss of my Monkee brother, Peter Tork”.

The Monkees’ Mickey Dolenz and Mike Nesmith will tour Australia and New Zealand in June.

The Monkees Australian and New Zealand dates

Saturday June 8, Christchurch, Isaac Theatre
Sunday June 9, Auckland, Great Hall
Monday, June 10, Wellington, Michael Fowler Centre

Wednesday June 12 Brisbane QPAC
Saturday June 15 Melbourne Palais Theatre
Sunday June 16 Perth Astor Theatre
Tuesday June 18 Sydney Opera House

Tickets on sale:

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