R.I.P. Peter Tork

Thursday, February 21, 2019
P. Tork

In 1968, he became the first member of The Monkees to bid the band adieu. Now, at the age of 77, Peter Tork has become the second member of the band to whom we must bid farewell.


Per The New York Times, Tork’s death was confirmed by his son, Ivan Iannoli, who said the cause was complications of a rare form of cancer that was first diagnosed in 2009, but a more emotional confirmation – one that we can all surely appreciate – came via a post on Tork’s official Facebook page:


“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.”


Only a few minutes before posting this piece, however, an additional statement was released by the Thorkelson family, one which we feel obliged to post here as well:


“We are all saddened to share the news that Peter Thorkelson -- friend, father, husband, grandfather, philosopher, goofball, entertainer -- died peacefully this morning at a family home in Connecticut. Peter succumbed to a 10 year bout with adenoid cystic carcinoma, a rare cancer of the salivary glands. Peter’s energy, intelligence, silliness, and curiosity were traits that for decades brought laughter and enjoyment to millions, including those of us closest to him. Those traits also equipped him well to take on cancer, a condition he met with unwavering humor and courage.


“We are all still raw, and still have much to process, but we are also feeling appreciation for Peter’s contributions. We are grateful that we have an extended support network thanks to the attentive energy and dedication of Peter’s fans worldwide. We want those fans to know with absolute certainty that your spirit and goodwill fed Peter with continued energy and force (and of course humor).


“With that, we ask that our family have time and space to grieve in privacy.


“We are asking fans who would like to make contributions in Peter’s name to donate to the scholarship fund at The Institute for The Musical Arts in Massachusetts, a nonprofit that provides young women with music education, music recording, and music community. More info can be found here.”


It’s hard to imagine that anyone who’d visit Rhino.com wouldn’t already be well aware of Peter’s history, but it never hurts to offer it up again. Before ever joining forces with Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, and Davy Jones, Peter had already been part of the folk explosion in Greenwich Village, along with another familiar name: Stephen Stills. It’s a famous story, of course, but if you don’t know it, Stills auditioned for The Monkees, came up short, but suggested that Peter should give it a go. In short order, Peter had himself a full-time TV gig which would quickly transform into a staggeringly successful run on the pop charts.


In December 1968, however, Peter – exhausted from touring and frustrated by the lack of a consistent group dynamic within the band – quit The Monkees. It wasn’t forever, of course: he would subsequently reunite with Davy, Micky, and Mike on numerous occasions. In addition, he carved out a solo career, recording both with his band Shoe Suede Blues as well as with fellow folk-influenced singer-songwriter James Lee Stanley. But he was and will forever be remembered as one of The Monkees, and between his singing, songwriting, musicianship, and comic delivery, the legacy of Peter Tork himself will last just as long.

“All of us at Rhino are devastated to hear the sad news of Peter Tork’s passing. Peter was truly a part of the Rhino family and we had the privilege of collaborating with him on dozens of Monkees albums and tours for the last three decades. His talent, charm, and humor were undeniable and he had the rare privilege of bringing joy and music to multiple generations. From his early days in Greenwich Village, to the heights of Monkeemania, to his Shoe Suede Blues band, Peter enjoyed a rich life as an incredibly gifted musician and songwriter. He has left us with a plethora of amazing songs and memories that will be endlessly remembered. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and fans around the world.”


- Mark Pinkus, President, Rhino Entertainment


Pardon me if I am being dogmatic -- but I think it is harder to put together a band than a TV show -- not to take anything away from TV shows. These days I watch MSNBC -- mostly aghast at what I see -- and what I am missing is ‘madcap.’ Peter Tork died this AM. I am told he slipped away peacefully. Yet, as I write this my tears are awash, and my heart is broken. Even though I am clinging to the idea that we all continue, the pain that attends these passings has no cure. It's going to be a rough day. I share with all Monkees fans this change, this ‘loss,’ even so. PT will be a part of me forever. I have said this before -- and now it seems even more apt -- the reason we called it a band is because it was where we all went to play. A band no more -- and yet the music plays on -- an anthem to all who made the Monkees and the TV show our private -- dare I say ‘secret’ -- playground. As for Pete, 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. I will miss him -- a brother in arms. Take flight, my Brother.”

Michael Nesmith


Micky Dolenz:


Brian Wilson:


Diane Warren:


Carole King:


Susanna Hoffs:


Michael Des Barres:


Graham Coxon:


Cavern Club: