Peter Tork, the Offbeat Monkee, Dies @ 77

Peter Tork, a bassist and singer with '60s teen sensations the Monkees, has died Thursday at 77. His sister, Anne Thorkelson, confirmed his death.

Peter Tork: February 13, 1943-February 21, 2019 (Image via NBC)

Though no cause of death has been given, he had been diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma, a cancer of the tongue, 10 years ago, WaPo reports.

Peter Halsten Thorkelson was born February 13, 1943, in Washington, D.C. Raised by parents who loved folk music, he took music lessons and played Greenwich Village clubs before moving to L.A. and answering an ad seeking "4 Insane Boys, Ages 17-21" — an audition that led to his being cast as a member of the Monkees.

The Monkees were concocted as a cash-in version of the Beatles, but showed considerable creative and pop cultural verve of their own. The group mustered four #1 studio albums (in a row), and clocked hit singles with "Last Train to Clarksville" (1966, #1), "I'm a Believer" (1966, #1), "A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You" (1967, #2), "Pleasant Valley Sunday" (1967, #3), "Daydream Believer" (1967, #1), "Valleri" (1968, #3) and others, including the #20 hit "That Was Then, This Is Now" (1986), released in the midst of an out-of-nowhere mid-life rejuvenation.

Initially a front band for studio musicians, the members became fully participatory in their work with their album Headquarters (1967).

Distinguishing themselves from the Beatles, the Monkees performed in their own psychedelic sitcom, The Monkees, from 1966-1968, on which Tork played the group's lovable dummy. In life, he was anything but, an out-of-the-box thinker very much in step with the cultural revolution of the '60s and a skilled instrumentalist.

After the ... far-out ... Monkees film Head (1968) flopped, Tork left the group. He was a member of the band Release, spent time in jail on a minor drug charge, worked as a teacher, became a singing waiter and struggled with alcoholism, but he did rejoin the Monkees in the '80s, taking part in tours.

Tork released the well-reviewed solo album Stranger Things Have Happened in 1994.

Married four times and divorced three, Tork is survived by his wife, Pamela Grapes; his daughter Hallie; his daughter Erica; his son Ivan; and his brother and sister.

His death, following the death of Monkees frontman Davy Jones (1945-2012), leaves original Monkees members Mickey Dolenz, 73, who had participated in all of the Monkees reunion tours and projects; and Michael Nesmith, 76, who had participated only in the tours following the death of Jones.

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