Peter Tork (Peter Halsten Thorkelson)

Peter Tork

Peter Tork

Peter Tork, a struggling musician who became an overnight teenage idol in the 1960s with the Monkees, died on Thursday at a family home in eastern Connecticut. He was 77.

His son, Ivan Iannoli, said the cause was complications from a rare form of cancer that was first diagnosed in 2009. Mr. Tork, who grew up in Connecticut, lived in Mansfield, east of Hartford, according to The Hartford Courant.

The Monkees were an unabashedly manufactured band, created by Hollywood producers in the 1960s to capitalize on the astounding popularity of the Beatles. The members — Mr. Tork (the oldest, at 24), Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Mike Nesmith — were cast as the stars of an NBC sitcom, “The Monkees” (1966-68), in which they performed and dealt with comic situations with a childlike irreverence, much as the Beatles had in their hit films “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Help!”

Mr. Tork was positioned as the goofy one, the court jester. The director Bob Rafelson, one of the show’s creators, compared him to Harpo Marx.

Because they were created for television, did not write their own songs (that was left to professionals like Gerry Goffin, Carole King and others) and did not play their own instruments (they mimed playing on camera), the Monkees were disdained by many; if the Beatles were the Fab Four, the Monkees quickly earned the derisive nickname the Prefab Four.

But they surprised many in the music industry, and perhaps themselves as well, when they became popular both on television and on the charts.

Born

  • February, 13, 1942
  • Washington, D.C.

Died

  • February, 21, 2019
  • Mansfield, Connecticut

Cause of Death

  • complications of adenoid cystic carcinoma

Cemetery

    Other

    • Cremated, Ashes scattered at sea

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