Peter Tork of the Monkees dies at 77

Peter Tork, the guitarist and wise-cracking character in the 1960s teen-pop sensation the Monkees, died today at the age of 77, a rep for the group confirmed to Variety. Speaking with the Washington Post, Tork’s sister Anne Thorkelson did not specify a cause of death, although the guitarist had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer a decade ago.

Tork wrote a blog piece for the Post about his diagnosis with adenoid cystic carcinoma 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, and recording his own solo blues albums, the last of which, “Relax Your Mind,” came out in early 2018.

“It is with beyond-heavy and broken hearts that we share the devastating news that our friend, mentor, teacher, and amazing soul, Peter Tork, has passed from this world,” read a statement on Tork’s official Facebook page, attributed to “the team of Peter’s friends, family and colleagues” that maintained his social media presence. “Please know that Peter was extremely appreciative of you, his Torkees.”

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Peter Tork of The Monkees in the 1960s and '70s
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Peter Tork of The Monkees in the 1960s and '70s
The Monkees, a TV-created, pre-packaged, American response to the popularity of the Beatles, were (clockwise from top): Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, and Peter Tork.
Popular TV actors and pop singers The Monkees, circa 1965. Clockwise from top left, they are, Mike Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones and Peter Tork. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
THE MONKEES -- Pictured: (l-r) Davy Jones as Davy, Peter Tork as Peter, Micky Dolenz as Micky, Michael Nesmith as Mike -- (Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE MONKEES -- Pictured: (l-r) Micky Dolenz as Micky, Davy Jones as Davy, Peter Tork as Peter, Michael Nesmith as Mike -- (Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE MONKEES -- Pictured: (clockwise l-r) Micky Dolenz as Micky, Peter Tork as Peter, Michael Nesmith as Mike, Davy Jones as Davy -- (Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
American musician and actor Peter Tork, in a double breated shirt, of the popular music and television group the Monkees, late 1960s. (Photo by Jack Knox/Getty Images)
The Monkees photographed on the set of their TV Programme, left to right, Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith in the mid 1960's.; (Photo by King Collection/Photoshot/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Publicity handout of The Monkees seated in director chairs. Left to right are: David Jones, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith.
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: Photo of Peter Tork (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
THE MONKEES -- Pictured: (l-r) Micky Dolenz as Micky, Peter Tork as Peter -- (Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE MONKEES -- Pictured: (l-r) Davy Jones as Davy, Peter Tork as Peter -- (Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
The Monkees Peter Tork 1967 (Photo by Chris Walter/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 1967: Peter Tork on the set of the television show The Monkees in November 1967 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 1967: Peter Tork on the set of the television show The Monkees in October 1967 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 1967: Peter Tork on the set of the television show The Monkees in October 1967 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
JANUARY 19TH : On this day in 1967 The Monkees were at number one in the charts with 'I'm a Believer'. Library file of pop group The Monkees (l-r) Davy Jones, Peter Tork, Mike Nesmith and Micky Dolenz. The Monkees met in London today for the first time in 30 years to discuss their U.K tour in March. 14/09/03: Daydream Believer by The Monkees is Britain's top karaoke tune, according to a new survey. The singalong hit is the number one choice for would-be Pop Idols across the country. My Way by Frank Sinatra came second followed by the ladies' favourite, I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor. The survey asked 1,000 people to name their favourite karaoke song. The poll was commissioned by the Hungry Horse pub chain to launch its new Karaoke Krazy competition. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
29th June 1967: American musician Peter Tork, a singer and bass guitarist with the manufactured pop group the Monkees, at a press conference in England. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - JUNE 1967: Peter Tork on the set of the television show The Monkees in June 1967 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
(AUSTRALIA OUT) Peter Tork of The Monkees at their press conference at the Brighton Hotel in Sydney on 16 September 1968 SMH NEWS Picture by STAFF (Photo by Fairfax Media/Fairfax Media via Getty Images)
The Monkees (guitarist Mike Nesmith, singer Davy Jones, bassist Peter Tork and drummer Micky Dolenz (on the ground)), US pop group, pose for a group portrait, circa 1968. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Peter Tork of the Monkees wearing decorated Western wear with stars; circa 1970; New York. (Photo by Art Zelin/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Peter Tork Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Peter Tork Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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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; vocalist Davy Jones and singer/drummer Micky Dolenz were former child actors. Tork played the “Ringo” role in the group, as a charming and goofy comic foil.

While the Monkees enjoyed enormous chart and box-office success in the wake of the television show, which launched in 1966 and was created by producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, 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. Jones died in 2012.

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Celebrities who died in 2019
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Celebrities who died in 2019
Luke Perry, 52: Read more here
Carol Channing, 97: Read more here
Bob Einstein, 76: Read more here
Actor Luke Perry, 52. Read more here.
Fatima Ali, 29: Read more here

Peter Tork of The Monkees, 77: Read more here

Karl Lagerfeld, 85: Read more here

Comedian Kevin Barnett, 32: Read more here
The Prodigy frontman Keith Flint, 49: Read more here
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