(Gray News) - Peter Tork of The Monkees, the made-for-TV pop group from the 1960s, died Thursday. He was 77.
“We are all saddened to share the news that Peter Thorkelson -- friend, father, husband, grandfather, philosopher, goofball, entertainer -- died peacefully this morning at a family home in Connecticut,” the family said in a statement. “Peter succumbed to a 10 year bout with adenoid cystic carcinoma, a rare cancer of the salivary glands.”
“The Monkees” TV show debuted on NBC in the fall of 1966 and the group was an immediate success both on TV and the music charts. The group’s first single, “Last Train to Clarksville,” had become a number one hit a few weeks earlier.
Tork played a goofy, lovable character on the TV show, essentially becoming The Monkees equivalent of Ringo Starr in The Beatles.
The TV show was canceled after two seasons but lived on in reruns.
“Peter’s energy, intelligence, silliness, and curiosity were traits that for decades brought laughter and enjoyment to millions, including those of us closest to him,” the family said. “Those traits also equipped him well to take on cancer, a condition he met with unwavering humor and courage.”
The Monkees carried on in different incarnations over the years.
When their 45th anniversary rolled around in 2011, the trio of Dolenz, Jones, and Tork decided to re-form and headed out on an extensive tour of North America, according to AllMusic.com. It was to be their last set of performances with Davy Jones, who passed away at the age of 66 in February of 2012.
Although often dismissed as the “Prefab Four," because The Monkees were the creation of TV executives, Tork and Michael Nesmith had solid performing and recording experience before joining the band, AllMusic.com reported. Dolenz and Jones were primarily actors but had also dabbled in pop music and had strong vocal abilities.