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Author Topic: Peter Tork, Court Jester of the Monkees, Is Dead at 77  (Read 274 times)

Offline Fansome

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Peter Tork, Court Jester of the Monkees, Is Dead at 77
« on: February 21, 2019, 1959 UTC »
Peter Tork, Court Jester of the Monkees, Is Dead at 77

By Anita Gates

    Feb. 21, 2019

Peter Tork, a struggling musician who became an overnight teenage idol in the 1960s with the Monkees, died on Thursday at a family home in eastern Connecticut. He was 77.

His son, Ivan Iannoli, said the cause was complications of a rare form of cancer that was first diagnosed in 2009. Mr. Tork, who grew up in Connecticut, lived in Mansfield, east of Hartford, according to The Hartford Courant.

The Monkees were an unabashedly manufactured band, created by Hollywood producers in the 1960s to capitalize on the astounding popularity of the Beatles. The members — Mr. Tork (the oldest, at 24), Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Mike Nesmith — were cast as the stars of an NBC sitcom, “The Monkees” (1966-68), in which they performed and dealt with comic situations with a childlike irreverence, much as the Beatles had in their hit films “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Help!”

The Monkees during the height of their popularity in the 1960s: from left, Mr. Nesmith, Mr. Tork, Mr. Jones and Mr. Dolenz. Among their hits were “Last Train to Clarksville,” “Daydream Believer” and “Pleasant Valley Sunday.”Creditvia Reuters

Mr. Tork was positioned as the goofy one, the court jester. The director Bob Rafelson, one of the show’s creators, compared him to Harpo Marx.

Because they were created for television, did not write their own songs (that was left to professionals like Gerry Goffin, Carole King and others) and did not play their own instruments (they mimed playing on camera), the Monkees were disdained by many; if the Beatles were the Fab Four, the Monkees quickly earned the derisive nickname the Prefab Four.

But they surprised many in the music industry, and perhaps themselves as well, when they became popular both on television and on the charts.

Their show won the Emmy Award for outstanding comedy series in 1967, and the band’s many hit records, including “Last Train to Clarksville,” “Daydream Believer,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday” and the infectious if simplistic “(Theme From) The Monkees” (“Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees / And people say we Monkee around … ”), for a while earned them sales on the same stratospheric level as the Beatles’.

Both Mr. Tork and Mr. Nesmith were accomplished musicians — Mr. Tork played several instruments — and Mr. Dolenz and Mr. Jones were seasoned singers. (As a child, Mr. Jones had played the Artful Dodger in “Oliver!” on Broadway.) But because studio musicians did the playing on the first two Monkees records, the notion that they were not a real band persisted.

That began to change in 1967, when the group released what came to be considered its signature album, “Headquarters,” on which they played most of the instruments themselves and wrote several of the songs. Mr. Tork co-wrote some of them, and shared lead vocals with Mr. Jones on the wistful ballad “Shades of Gray.”

(Peter Tork vocals were a rarity on Monkees albums — he was by far the group’s weakest singer — but he had some memorable ones, often laced with humor, beginning with “Your Auntie Grizelda” on the band’s second album, “More of the Monkees.”)

The Monkees recorded for only three years before disbanding; their popularity faded after their TV show was canceled, and Mr. Tork left the band in 1969.

But the group enjoyed a revival in the 1980s and reunited, usually without Mr. Nesmith, for numerous concerts and tours. In recent years the Monkees released two albums.

Mr. Tork recorded his first solo album, “Stranger Things Have Happened,” in 1994. He later formed a blues band, Shoe Suede Blues, with which he continued to perform and record until recently. The band’s latest album, “Relax Your Mind,” was released last year.

“The blues is about community,” Mr. Tork told The Courant, explaining his genre switch. “Not about how lonely I am, but everybody’s been lonely.”

Peter Halsten Thorkelson was born on Feb. 13, 1942, in Washington, the son of Halsten John Thorkelson, an economics professor, and Virginia Hope (Straus) Thorkelson. The family moved to Connecticut, where Peter graduated from high school in Storrs. He attended Carleton College in Minnesota, but left before graduating and moved to New York, where he performed in folk clubs in Greenwich Village and met another up-and-coming musician, Stephen Stills.

In California, where both had relocated, Mr. Stills tried out for the Monkees. When that didn’t work out — some sources say Mr. Stills was rejected because he had bad teeth; Mr. Stills himself said that he rejected the job because he wanted to write songs for the show but that would have meant surrendering his music publishing — he recommended Mr. Tork, because people had always told the two that they looked alike.

Mr. Tork left show business shortly after leaving the Monkees and at one point taught high school in Santa Monica, Calif. There were financial problems, and personal ones as well; he dealt with alcoholism and drug abuse, and served a short prison sentence for hashish possession in 1972.

Later in his career he made guest appearances on a handful of television series, including “The King of Queens” and “7th Heaven.” His last movie role was in “I Filmed Your Death,” a horror drama yet to be released.

Mr. Tork reunited with his fellow Monkees for a world tour in 2011 and with Mr. Dolenz and Mr. Nesmith in 2012 for a tour that included a tribute to Mr. Jones, who died that year.

Mr. Nesmith and Mr. Dolenz went back on the road last year, without Mr. Tork, for a tour billed as “The Monkees Present: The Mike & Micky Show.” (That tour was interrupted when Mr. Nesmith underwent heart surgery but resumed this year.)

Mr. Tork’s marriages to Jody Babb, Reine Stewart and Barbara Iannoli ended in divorce.

In addition to his son, he is survived by his fourth wife, Pamela Grapes, whom he married in 2014; two daughters, Hallie Iannoli and Erica Thorkelson; a sister, Anne Thorkelson; a brother, Nick Thorkelson; and three grandchildren.

Like many artists, Mr. Tork concluded that happiness came simply from doing the work. “It’s about getting to play the music full time,” he told The Los Angeles Times in 1992. “It’s not about the following anymore, the fame game. A little bit of fame is fun, but I’ve had enough, thank you.”

Offline JimIO

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Peter Tork of the Monkees dead at 77
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2019, 2001 UTC »
It's a Fox News story, at least none of the comments about it blame Hillary or Obama, so far...

   https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/peter-tork-of-the-monkees-dead-at-77-report-says.amp

Offline Ct Yankee

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Re: Peter Tork of the Monkees dead at 77
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2019, 2119 UTC »
« Last Edit: February 21, 2019, 2255 UTC by Ct Yankee »
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Offline East Troy Don

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Re: Peter Tork, Court Jester of the Monkees, Is Dead at 77
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2019, 2306 UTC »
Quite a few of the Monkees songs were written by the team of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart of "I Wonder What She's Doing Tonite" fame.   TBBH, if I recall correctly, wrote "A little bit me, a little bit you"  " Last Train to Clarksville" among others......
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Offline Pigmeat

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Re: Peter Tork, Court Jester of the Monkees, Is Dead at 77
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2019, 2316 UTC »
Boyce and Hart showed up on "I Dream of Jeannie" a number of times.

I wrote Tork a fan letter trying to get a pic of him for my hand-holding at recess girlfriend. Trudy. Even included postage. Boy, I lit him up in my next letter! I told him if I ever got as famous as him, I was treating my fans the same way he did his. If I owe you a QSL, get it from the Tork estate!

Offline Josh

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Re: Peter Tork, Court Jester of the Monkees, Is Dead at 77
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2019, 1701 UTC »
As manufactured as they were they're still better than the beatles.
Conveniently located near Vincennes Indiana.

Offline Pigmeat

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Re: Peter Tork, Court Jester of the Monkees, Is Dead at 77
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2019, 1925 UTC »
I saw the Monkees in 1967, The Boyce and Hart Band played from behind a screen while the real talent in the Monkees. Davey Jones had a live mic.

It was an interesting crowd, a friends older brother took us in his monstrous '63 Plymouth Fury because he wanted to see the back-up band, some crew of hippies called "The Jimi Hendrix Experience"? I think Jimi and his crew learned that 12,000 screaming, booing, nine year old girls were too much for their sound system to overcome even though it went to eleven.

Trudy was pissed by Hendrix's racket, I can tell you that. No backseat hand-holdin' on the hour ride home.

Offline JimIO

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Offline Josh

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Re: Peter Tork, Court Jester of the Monkees, Is Dead at 77
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2019, 1826 UTC »
I saw the Monkees in 1967, The Boyce and Hart Band played from behind a screen while the real talent in the Monkees. Davey Jones had a live mic.

It was an interesting crowd, a friends older brother took us in his monstrous '63 Plymouth Fury because he wanted to see the back-up band, some crew of hippies called "The Jimi Hendrix Experience"? I think Jimi and his crew learned that 12,000 screaming, booing, nine year old girls were too much for their sound system to overcome even though it went to eleven.

Trudy was pissed by Hendrix's racket, I can tell you that. No backseat hand-holdin' on the hour ride home.



Back in my stratocaster uber alles days I had every JH track on vinyl. It would have been glorious to see them play live. In the words of the great Eric Klepton, Jimmy knew how to shake them strings. Hey Joe, where you goin with that gun in your hand?
Conveniently located near Vincennes Indiana.

Offline John Poet

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Re: Peter Tork, Court Jester of the Monkees, Is Dead at 77
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2019, 2022 UTC »
I saw the Monkees in 1967, The Boyce and Hart Band played from behind a screen while the real talent in the Monkees. Davey Jones had a live mic.

It was an interesting crowd, a friends older brother took us in his monstrous '63 Plymouth Fury because he wanted to see the back-up band, some crew of hippies called "The Jimi Hendrix Experience"? I think Jimi and his crew learned that 12,000 screaming, booing, nine year old girls were too much for their sound system to overcome even though it went to eleven.

Trudy was pissed by Hendrix's racket, I can tell you that. No backseat hand-holdin' on the hour ride home.


Still infamous, as one of the most mis-matched tour pairings in music history, lol


Hmmm. Perhaps I should cut a new show recreating that epic tour...
« Last Edit: February 25, 2019, 2027 UTC by John Poet »

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Offline Pigmeat

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Re: Peter Tork, Court Jester of the Monkees, Is Dead at 77
« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2019, 0320 UTC »
I saw two great ones, Poet. That was the first, the second was in late '74 when an exploding Aerosmith fresh off their debut album backed up Santana in full "Devadip" mode. Aerosmith totally ripped off the New York Dolls stage act. Tyler was a dead ringer for Johannsen in style, dress and onstage antics, while Joe Perry looked and dressed like Johnny Thunders.

A 1/3 of the crowd was drunken fools jacked on PCP, most of the rest were out of their gourd on acid, the rest were looking for the quickest way out in case PCP and booze boys started a rampage. No need for it, Carlo's 10 minute meditation intro sent the PCP and booze gang out in droves.

Offline JimIO

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Re: Peter Tork, Court Jester of the Monkees, Is Dead at 77
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2019, 0557 UTC »
MGM Springfield just announced Aerosmith will do 4 shows in August to celebrate their one year anniversary. $89 to $499 a seat. 3 of the 4 shows are on week nights. Somehow I don't think it will end up being 4 shows.

Offline Josh

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Conveniently located near Vincennes Indiana.

Offline Pigmeat

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Re: Peter Tork, Court Jester of the Monkees, Is Dead at 77
« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2019, 0037 UTC »
It's all part of the "Rascal Scooters Rock n' Roll Tour". Fansome is the head sales rep and M.C.