Remembering The Monkees’ Peter Tork

posted February 28, 2019 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by Jade Campos

On Thursday, Feb. 21, a former member of The Monkees, Peter Tork passed away peacefully in Connecticut. Family members say the cause of death was from a prolonged rare form of cancer which he had been diagnosed back in 2009.

This past October, Tork had released a statement saying his health wasn’t in the best condition, but he was feeling better than ever. Tork had just turned 77 on Feb. 13.

Although born in Washington D.C., Peter Tork spent much of his childhood years in Connecticut. He was nine when he first experimenting in music, beginning with the piano. After that, he started to play other instruments like the guitar and the banjo. While in college he became a folk music player in Greenwich Village.

Peter Tork’s fame didn’t begin until the mid-1960s after being cast for a role in the TV show “The Monkees,” a sitcom about an upcoming rock ‘n’ roll band in 1966. Although the band’s main goal was to act on the show and many rumors continue to this day that they never actually played their own music, Peter actually played guitar and bass on many of the band’s earliest songs.

On the show, Peter played a lovable, goofy musician who often had trouble speaking to girls. His character was known as the “dumb” one who found himself in bizarre situations. Tork, however, was much brighter than his TV persona. He was actually one of the most skilled musicians in the band. While he did not sing very often, he contributed to much of the band’s evolution away from mainstream pop.

“For Pete’s Sake” was one of The Monkees most well-known songs, which began to be played for the show’s ending credits. It is not well known that Peter Tork actually wrote the song. The song, released in 1967, is all about spreading love in the world. It has become an anthem of the group as well as the decade.

Peter had left the group in the late 1960s after they had reached fame that was in competition with The Beatles. He was interested in going back to the folk music he had played in Greenwich Village. However, he did return to the band when they began a reunion tour in the 1980s. He had been performing and creating music with the band ever since.

Friends and family members remember him as being fun-loving, but very smart and talented. While many people did not recognize Tork for his talents, he was certainly a driving force in the group.

The remaining members of the group, Mickey Dolenz and Mike Nesmith each released statements saying they were heartbroken by the loss. They have begun rehearsals for performances which will begin in June. Although they had stated they would be performing without Tork the day before his death, it can be assumed that the tour will now be in memoriam just as the band did after former member Davy Jones passed in 2012.

Some of the most memorable Peter Tork episodes of The Monkees are “One Man Shy,” “The Case of the Missing Monkee” and “Art for Monkees’ Sake” which can all be watched on YouTube.

Peter Tork will be missed by fans, friends and family members as they remember his career as a talented musician.

 

 

Jade Campos is a freshman majoring in print journalism. To contact her, email jmc7727@psu.edu.