Remembering Peter Tork, Bassist and Singer for The Monkees

Peter Tork, bassist for The Monkees, dies at 77

Peter Tork, the lovably floppy-haired bassist for The Monkees, has died at the age of 77.

His death was announced on his Facebook page and confirmed to The Washington Post by Tork’s sister, Anne Thorkelson. 

No cause of death was given, though in 2009, Tork was diagnosed with a rare cancer that affected his tongue.

While in The Monkees, the made-for-TV band that sparked a teen frenzy in the ‘60s, Tork was tagged as a comedic foil and the “dummy” of the group. But he, along with fellow Monkee Mike Nesmith, was actually an accomplished folk musician who was prominent on the scene in Greenwich Village (Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones – who died in 2012 - came to The Monkees after success as child actors).

In The Monkees, Tork played bass and keyboards, as well as occasionally sang lead (“Long Title: Do I Have to Do This All Over Again,” “Your Auntie Grizelda”).

When “The Monkees” premiered on NBC in 1966, he was the oldest of the group, at 24. 

Tork performed as part of The Monkees’ 45th anniversary tour, which played Chastain Park Amphitheatre in 2011; Nesmith and Dolenz have a scheduled spring tour as a duo. 

The Monkees released their first-ever holiday album last year, “Christmas Party,” which featured the single “Unwrap You at Christmas.”

The album featured new vocals from Tork, as well as Dolenz, Nesmith and the late Jones (taken from vintage recordings). The new songs on the album were written by Rivers Cuomo of Weezer and R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck, among others. 

To honor Tork, AXS TV will re-air its 2016 profile, “Rock Legends: The Monkees” at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 21 and at 7 p.m. March 16. Also on March 16,  at 6:30 p.m., the network will broadcast an encore presentation of The Monkees’ first-ever live televised concert.

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About the Author

Melissa Ruggieri
Melissa Ruggieri
Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writer Melissa Ruggieri covers music and entertainment news for the AJC. She remembers when MTV was awesome.