On Thursday, the music world was saddened by the death of Peter Thorkelson, better known as Peter Tork, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist for ’60s American pop idols The Monkees. He was 77 years old.
The band was conceived and created in the mid-60s as the titular group for NBC sitcom The Monkees, a scripted show about a band trying to make a career for themselves in the rock and roll world. The show and the music that came with it became so popular that The Monkees eventually went from being a “fictional” band to a real band, continuing to record and perform long after the show was canceled in 1968.
Tork’s death was confirmed in a post on his official Facebook page. As the post notes,
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 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.
As Tork’s Monkees bandmate Micky Dolenz noted in a Facebook post, “There are no words right now…heart broken over the loss of my Monkee brother, Peter Tork.”
Michael Nesmith, The Monkees’ other surviving member, also posted a lengthy tribute to Peter Tork on Facebook. It reads,
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.
The Monkees – “Daydream Believer”
[Video: The Monkees]