Exclusive Photo: Peter Tork, Member of 'The Monkees,' Dies at 77

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CHICAGO – Hey, hey, he (was) a Monkee, and Peter Tork liked Monkee-ing around. The eternally optimistic-but-doofus character of the “Pre-Fab Four” 1960s pop group The Monkees was also a consummate musician, and was one the first members of the made-for-TV band that protested the false backing tracks to their playing and singing. Tork died on February 21st, 2019. He was 77.

Peter Halsten Thorkelson was born in Washington, D.C., and was cast perfectly into the era of the baby boomer 1960s, when he moved to New York City after a stint in college to join the burgeoning folk scene in Greenwich Village. He became a Monkee accidentally, when his friend Stephen Stills (of Crosby, Stills… fame) suggested that Tork could fulfill the look that the producers wanted for the TV show. He got the gig, and along with fellow band mates Mike Nesmith, Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones, romped on the TV series, released several singles/albums to best selling acclaim – including the super hits “Last Train to Clarksville,” “Daydream Believer” and “Pleasant Valley Sunday” – and helped to formulate them into legit, instrument-playing pop stars.

Peter Tork in Chicago, August of 2011
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

The rise of The Monkees precipitated a fairly massive fall, as their counterculture movie “Head” failed to connect to an audience, and infighting among the group split them into their separate ways around 1970 (Tork was, in fact, one of the first to “leave” the original period of the band). They did reunite over the years, either in groups of two or three or in rare occasions, the whole band (Their 11th album “Justus” in 1996 featured all four members). Tork came back in the late 1970s, and pretty much stuck with the band until his passing (he was preceded in death by Davy Jones). At the same time, he also toured with his bands Shoe Suede Blues and The Peter Tork Project.

After Jones died, The remaining three Monkees reunited for an extraordinary 50th Anniversary album titled “Good Times!” (2016), produced by Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne, and featured the trio doing songs written especially for them by modern pop artists Rivers Cuomo (Weezer), Andy Partridge (XTC) and Noel Gallagher (Oasis), among others. The result was the best reviews since their greatest hits days, and a fresh take on their sound. Peter Tork did lead vocals on “Little Girl” (which he wrote) and a Gerry Goffin/Carole King song “Wasn’t Born to Follow.”

Tork was married four times, lastly to Pamela Grapes in 2014, and is survived by three children and Grapes. He had been fighting a rare form of cancer since 2009, and succumbed to the disease at his home in Mansfield, Connecticut.

Joe Arce of HollywoodChicago.com contributed this Exclusive Photo of Peter Tork, taken at Wizard World Chicago in 2011. Tork was somewhat of a hippie philosopher, once observing, “You should be a hero to yourself. And if you’re not… check it out.”

The source for this article was Wikipedia.com. Peter Tork, Part Man Part Monkee, 1942-2019

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Editor and Film Writer

© 2019 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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