Peter Tork dead: Monkees bassist dies at 77

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Peter Tork, former Monkees bassist and keyboardist, died Thursday. He was 77.

The musician was best-known as the wise-cracking dummy in the fictitious TV rock band. He became a teenage heartthrob in the late-1960s thanks to his endearing personality and lovable character.

The Monkees released a number of worldwide hits in their prime, including: Daydream Believer, Last Train to Clarksville and I’m a Believer. Since their inception, the four-piece have sold more than 75 million records across the globe.

Tork’s passing was confirmed by his sister Anne Thorkelson on Thursday morning. The cause of death is currently unknown, but he was diagnosed with a rare tongue cancer in 2009 — adenoid cystic carcinoma.

Tork wrote a blog piece for the Washington Post about his diagnosis after beginning treatment in 2009. Through most of the 10 years since, he had been able to resume an active musical life, participating in Monkees reunion shows as recently as 2016.

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He even recorded his own solo albums, the last of which, Relax Your Mind, came out in early 2018.

Peter Tork of The Monkees performs at the Pantages Theatre on Sept. 16, 2016 in Hollywood, Calif. Michael Tullberg/Getty Images

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A statement regarding his passing was posted to Tork’s official Facebook page by one of his close friends.

“Our friend, mentor, teacher, and amazing soul, Peter Tork, has passed from this world,” the spokesperson wrote.

Some of Tork’s close friends also expressed their sorrow over social media, including Micky Dolenz, 73, his former Monkees bandmate.

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While The Monkees were a manufactured, television-centric, American version of the Beatles, as depicted in A Hard Day’s Night, Tork and fellow guitarist Mike Nesmith were serious musicians who paid their dues on the folk and rock scenes of the early 1960s.

Lead vocalist Davy Jones and Dolenz (the drummer) were former child actors. Tork played the “Ringo Starr” role in the group; acting as a charming and goofy comic foil.

(L-R) Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith on the set of the television show The Monkees in Oct. 1967 in Los Angeles, Calif. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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Longtime fans across the globe, young and old, took to Twitter to share their condolences and memories of Tork.

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While The Monkees enjoyed enormous chart and box-office success in the wake of the television show, the group grew weary of not being taken seriously.

They gradually took on the instrumental and songwriting work on their recordings and made a dramatic split with their past on the uneven and very psychedelic 1968 album and film Head, which baffled fans and largely failed to introduce them to a new audience.

The group split not long after, reuniting periodically over the years.

In four director chairs are seated members of The Monkees. (L-R) David Jones, Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork and Michael Nesmith. Getty Images Archive

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Tork was the second member of The Monkees to pass away. Jones tragically died on Feb. 29, 2012 as a result of a severe heart attack brought on by arteriosclerosis.

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The remaining members, Nesmith and Dolenz, still perform together under the moniker The Mike & Micky Show. Nesmith, 76, was hospitalized in 2018 after undergoing quadruple-bypass heart surgery.

Tork is survived by his wife Pamela Grapes, and their three children, Hallie, Ivan, and Erica.

With files from Reuters

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