Sadly, there is one less Monkee to monkey around. On February 21, 2019, Peter Tork, the bassist for The Monkees, died at the age of 77. Out of all the members of the Prefab Four, Peter was the oldest. So, keep reading to learn more about his life and how people will remember him.
Peter Tork’s Early Life and Career
Born Peter Torkelson in Washington, D.C. on February 13, 1942, the eventual Monkee developed an interest in music at an early age. He learned to play several instruments, including guitar, bass, keyboards and banjo. After failing out of college, Peter decided to use his musical talents to gain fame in the burgeoning folk scene of the 1960s.
He spent the first part of the decade playing the coffee houses of Greenwich Village. Along the way, Peter participated in a number of groups that never stuck together. In one of these, he paired up with Stephen Stills, a member of Buffalo Springfield and eventual co-founder of Crosby, Stills & Nash. Though that group broke up, Peter and Stephen remained friends long after.
Here Come the Monkees
In 1965, Peter made the trek to California. At Stephen’s urging, he tried out for The Monkees. He was chosen to star alongside Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, and Davy Jones. When the show premiered in September 1966, The Monkees and Peter became an international sensation.
In addition to the television show, The Monkees also recorded a number of albums. The first two, The Monkees and More of the Monkees, reached number one. The latter album featured one of Peter’s few releases on a Monkees record, Your Auntie Grizelda.
Peter remained a member of the TV-turned-real band during their two-year run. During that time, he worked on three additional albums, including the soundtrack to the band’s motion picture, Head. In 1968, with the TV show over and the movie a flop, Peter decided to leave the band.
After the Monkees
Peter tried his hand at a solo career and a production company after he left the band. However, he didn’t have much success. Peter didn’t resurface into the mainstream until the 1980s. In addition to an album release under the Reprise label, Peter frequently appeared on the New Jersey cable program, The Uncle Floyd Show. In 1982, he participated in the Win a Date with Peter Tork bit for the TV show, Late Night with David Letterman.
A Monkees Reunion
In the mid-1980s, thanks to the success of Monkees reruns on MTV and the release of That was Then, This Was Now, Peter returned to the Monkees fold. In 1987, he joined Mickey Dolenz and Davy Jones to record Pool It! and embark on a successful tour. From that point on, Peter was involved with some form of The Monkees.
In 1996, he reunited with Dolenz, Jones, and Michael Nesmith to record Just Us and appear in a TV special. After Jones’ sudden death in 2012, Peter joined Nesmith and Dolenz on tour and worked with them in the studio in 2016 to record Good Times, which commemorated the band’s 50th anniversary. He was also part of their most recent Christmas album.
Remember Peter Tork
Peter Tork was the equivalent of The Beatles George Harrison. The quiet one in most episodes, he displayed a wry sense of humor on and off the set, as well as an amazing musical talent.