Peter Tork, the bass and keyboard player with the Monkees, has died at the age of 77. His tragic passing was confirmed in a Facebook post on the morning of February 21. The post read in part, “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.” The post goes on to say that Tork’s Facebook page will remain open, as it is run by the musician’s friends and family. The poignant post concludes with the lines, “Please know that Peter was extremely appreciative of you, his Torkees, and one of his deepest joys was to be out in front of you, playing his music, and seeing you enjoy what he had to share. We send blessings and thoughts of comfort to you all, with much gratitude.”
The Monkees was a group that was formed in the wake of the Beatles hit movie “A Hard Days Night.” The band was formed by Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider for the purposes of a T.V. show that aired on NBC between 1966 and 1968. The idea was to create an American version of the Beatles. The band originally called it quits in 1971 but reformed in 1986 and 2012 for reunion tours. Original member Davy Jones passed away in February 2012 after a heart attack.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Tork Underwent Surgery & Radiation Therapy After His 2009 Cancer Diagnosis
Tork’s cause of death has not been made public. In 2009, he was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma, cancer that affects the tongue. When announcing his diagnosis, Tork said in a post on his website that the prognosis was good and that after surgery, he underwent radiation therapy. Tork said the surgery, “I am extraordinarily grateful, amazed and humbled by the encouragement, affection and support I’ve received so far.”
At the time of his death, Tork had a net worth of around $4 million.
2. At the Time of His Death, Tork Had Been Sober for More Than 30 Years
Tork told the Hollywood Reporter in 2013 that he had been clean and sober for more than 30 years. Though speaking about his past, Tork discussed his penchant for acid saying, “I liked my acid; I enjoyed it. I have not taken a mind-altering substance for 30-odd years. I was a partier back then, and I’m a clean liver now. It suits me just as much now as it did back then. All of us are more sedate. We are more appreciative of the joys of company and chatting and laughter, and not drinking and screaming and yelling. We all are calmer. It’s not a good or bad thing. It’s who we are now versus then.”
3. Tork Was the Monkees’ ‘Version of Ringo’
Tork’s death was first reported by the Washington Post, their tribute to him refers to Tork as “the group’s Ringo, its lovably goofy supporting player.” The Monkees were a manufactured boyband in the 1960s that were modeled on the Beatles.
4. Tork Was Married 4 Times During His Life
Tork was married four times during his life. In 1960, he married a woman named Jody Babb, that marriage last for one year. From there, Tork married Reine Stewart, in 1973, that marriage lasted until 1974. Shortly after the end of that marriage, Tork married Barbara Iannoli, his longest marriage, that lasted between 1975 and 1987. In 2013, Tork married Pam Tork, with whom he remained married to until the end of his life. In 1997, Tork had a daughter, Erica Marie, with a woman named Tammy Sestak.
5. Tork Said the Only Music He Listened to In His Later Years Was Chicago Blues
In 2016, Tork told the Hartford Courant that the only music he was listening to was, “Original blues. Chicago blues. That’s about it. I was listening to some of my own shows the other day.” During the same interview, Tork said that “Aretha never made a bad record as far as I know.” Tork also said that some Beatles songs “still stands up. Some doesn’t.”