On Thursday, Peter Tork, star of The Monkees, died at age 77.
The musician’s death was confirmed by his sister, Anne Thorkelson. She did not confirm his cause of death, but for ten years, Tork battled a rare form of cancer called adenoid cystic carcinoma.
As fans and friends of the legendary band member unite to celebrate the life and legacy of Peter Tork, some may grow curious about other aspects of his life. What, for example, was his net worth? Do we know how much money he made over the course of his life?
Here’s what we know.
1. He Was the Eldest Member of The Monkees
Tork was the eldest member of The Monkees. He played bass for the band, and also sang on some of the group’s tracks. He was also proficient on the piano, organ, guitar, and French Horn.
In the 1960s, Tork befriended musician Stephen Stills. One day, Stills went in to audition for a television series about four pop-rock musicians. He didn’t get the job, but suggested Tork audition for it. Tork did so, and won the part. That’s when he became a member of The Monkees; the group was created specifically for the TV sitcom.
Tork, a successful musician, was the only member who actually played his own instrument on the band’s first two albums. (A backup band played the other parts.) According to The Courant, the group sold 75 million records worldwide, and in their peak, they outsold the Rolling Stones and the Beatles combined.
2. He Co-Wrote Music for the Band
Along with playing his own instruments for the band, Tork co-wrote some songs for The Monkees, including “For Peter’s Sake”, which was the closing theme song of the second season of The Monkees.
Asked in an interview with The Courant if he cares that the Monkees aren’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Tork responded:
Marginally. The thing is this: there’s one person in charge of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. [Rolling Stone magazine founder and publisher] Jann Wenner. He has the absolute say one way or the other. He overrode the board of directors, I’m not putting those people in, this guy goes in instead. He’s one of the haters and he’s still there. For some reason, he thinks the Monkees are an affront to all that’s good and holy. So I’m not in a place where, if that’s what he thinks, I have a need to overpower that or fix it. Or change his mind. Or cajole. I’m not interested in cajoling. I’ll tell you what, though, if there was a hall of fame for bands that started off as a cast of a TV show, and became an entertainment function of their own, we’d be the only candidates.
3. He Gave a Lot of Money Away to Friends
Tork was born in Washington, DC, and attended Carleton College. His father was a professor of economics at the University of Connecticut. After graduating from school, Tork moved to New York City, where he pursued a career as a folk musician before eventually joining the Monkees.
In the words of People, “The millions he made as a Monkee did not last long.”
In an interview with the outlet, he shared, “I gave a lot of money away to friends, on the theory that it would come back to me in the long run.” Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for the musician.
4. He Became a Teacher in 1976
In the late 1970s, Tork was running low on cash and decided to become an English, math, drama, Eastern philosophy, and “rock band” teacher at Pacific Hills, a private secondary school in Santa Monica, California.
Although Tork was a college dropout, the school’s director was excited about hiring him for the positions. “I like to hire people who are independent and creative… I was impressed by his personality and his ability to talk.”
In 2016, The Monkees released “Good Times!”, their first album in 20 years. When Tork was asked by the Baltimore Sun if they accomplished what they set out to with the new album, he said, “I did not, personally. I had a song in mind that I wanted to see go on the album, and it was not allowed on, and I’m bitterly disappointed about it. But, you know, it’s a fine album otherwise. I think this would have been a great song on the album, but that was just my personal opinion, and it wasn’t my album. It was [the record label] Rhino’s album, really. And it’s a very good album, and I’m very glad to have been part of it. I would just be thrilled to death of this actually made a splash.”
5. He Lived for Years In the House He Grew Up In
By age 74, Tork had removed himself from the limelight. He was living in a “quiet corner of Mansfield with his wife Pam in an old house in which he grew up,” according to The Courant.
Prior to that, he owned both the Wally Cox house in Studio City and a three-room home in Venice, California.
Over the course of his life, Tork was married four times. First to Jody Babb, then to Reine Stewart, with whom he had one child, Hallie Elizabeth. Then, he was married to Barbara Iannoli, with whom he had one son, Ivan Joseph. Lastly, he was married to Pamela Grapes.
Tork also had a daughter, Erica Marie, from a relationship with Tammy Sestak.