Obit: Peter Tork (Monkees) (1942-2019)
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Obit: Peter Tork (Monkees) (1942-2019)


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GUEST,keberoxu 21 Feb 19 - 02:13 PM
BrooklynJay 21 Feb 19 - 03:06 PM
GUEST,keberoxu 21 Feb 19 - 03:07 PM
Stilly River Sage 21 Feb 19 - 03:49 PM
GUEST,keberoxu 21 Feb 19 - 04:52 PM
DaveRo 21 Feb 19 - 05:29 PM
Stilly River Sage 21 Feb 19 - 06:52 PM
GUEST,Guest 21 Feb 19 - 08:34 PM
GUEST,Jerry 22 Feb 19 - 05:21 AM
punkfolkrocker 22 Feb 19 - 08:52 AM
punkfolkrocker 22 Feb 19 - 08:55 AM
EBarnacle 22 Feb 19 - 11:32 AM
GUEST,Jerry 22 Feb 19 - 12:38 PM
GUEST,paperback 24 Feb 19 - 08:25 PM
MickyMan 24 Feb 19 - 09:02 PM
Will Fly 25 Feb 19 - 04:30 AM
GUEST,Ed 25 Feb 19 - 06:08 AM
punkfolkrocker 25 Feb 19 - 08:22 AM
Guy Wolff 25 Feb 19 - 10:04 AM
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Subject: Peter Tork 1942 - 2019
From: GUEST,keberoxu
Date: 21 Feb 19 - 02:13 PM

Rest in Peace, Peter Halsten Thorkelson, better known as Peter Tork.
When the Monkees were on television, I was young enough to watch.
Their successful, silly shows
and their covers of Neil Diamond et al.
lightened and leavened my childhood.

Davy Jones, I guess, was the first to go,
and now Peter Tork has succumbed to cancer.

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Subject: RE: RIP The Monkees
From: BrooklynJay
Date: 21 Feb 19 - 03:06 PM

So sorry to hear of his passing. I'm also old enough to remember The Monkees when the TV show originally aired.

Don't know why the thread title was changed; it makes it seem like all four of them are dead, when Mickey Dolenz and Mike Nesmith are still very much with us.

IMO, Peter Tork's name was not obscure, particularly to Americans of a certain age.


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Subject: RE: RIP The Monkees
From: GUEST,keberoxu
Date: 21 Feb 19 - 03:07 PM

And a shout out to the Wrecking Crew, as well,
without whom!

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Subject: RE: Obit: Peter Tork (Monkees) (1942-2019)
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 21 Feb 19 - 03:49 PM

So far the obits are from radio station sites, but I suspect the New York Times and others will have long, well-researched links up soon.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Peter Tork (Monkees) (1942-2019)
From: GUEST,keberoxu
Date: 21 Feb 19 - 04:52 PM

The Washington Post has a nice one.
But the website discourages making direct links
-- I can't make the link, anyway.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Peter Tork (Monkees) (1942-2019)
From: DaveRo
Date: 21 Feb 19 - 05:29 PM

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Subject: RE: Obit: Peter Tork (Monkees) (1942-2019)
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 21 Feb 19 - 06:52 PM

Washington Post obit.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Peter Tork (Monkees) (1942-2019)
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 21 Feb 19 - 08:34 PM

The Guardian obit ( notes that he began his career as a Greenwich Village folk singer:

"While at high school in Wisconsin, he was given a ukulele by the folk musician Tom Glazer. At Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, he managed to secure work as the college DJ as well as playing the guitar and ukulele in various folk ensembles. Having flunked out of college, he shortened his name to Tork and decided to move to Greenwich Village in 1962, where he would spend the next three years immersed in its folk scene.

In New York, Tork initially sang humorous songs written by his brother Nick, and played for donations at venues such as the Playhouse Cafe, the Cyclops and the Dragon’s Den. Progress was slow, but by February 1964 he was at Carnegie Hall as part of the New York City folk festival, sharing a stage with Johnny Cash, Phil Ochs and Mississippi John Hurt."

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Subject: RE: Obit: Peter Tork (Monkees) (1942-2019)
From: GUEST,Jerry
Date: 22 Feb 19 - 05:21 AM

Rather than a tribute version of the Beatles, I always thought the Monkees were more based on the Marx Brothers, with Peter being the Harpo character. The same grouping of characters crops up in several sitcoms, notably The Young Ones, Girls On Top, etc. Nevertheless, Tork was the main folk influence in the band, with the others between them inputting the rock and roll, country rock and ballad and show tunes elements, and it was a pity that the producers tended to sideline his input in favour of the more commercial material.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Peter Tork (Monkees) (1942-2019)
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 22 Feb 19 - 08:52 AM

" it was a pity that the producers tended to sideline his input in favour of the more commercial material"

But the Monkees were never intended to be anything but a commercial enterprise...

Spotlighting the highest quality commercial songwriters and session musicians in the industry.

They were the supreme commercial band...!!!!

The jobbing actors knew that, they knew they were hired to play the role of a pop group...

It was only later in the show that the actor's egos and musical ability outgrew the format
and they started demanding more personal input and control of the band...

...and that's when it all started falling apart.....

TV producer's learnt from this, hence "The Archies" a cartoon band with no potentially problematic actor's egos to contend with.....

Having said that, I love the Monkees, Archies, and American bubblegum pop of that era...

Those songwriter's, musicians, and record producers were the finest at churning out sublime era defining pop music...

It was a well established music factory, and back then that was not such a bad thing,
Quality control was paramount, the products were excellent...

Unlike these days.....

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Subject: RE: Obit: Peter Tork (Monkees) (1942-2019)
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 22 Feb 19 - 08:55 AM

and unlike my typing..

how have all these ' [eg, songwriter's] popped up in plurals...???

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Subject: RE: Obit: Peter Tork (Monkees) (1942-2019)
From: EBarnacle
Date: 22 Feb 19 - 11:32 AM

From MSN

The Monkees' surviving members Micky Dolenz and Mike Nesmith have commented on the death of fellow group member Peter Tork, who died Feb. 21. He was 77.

"There are no words right now...heartbroken over the loss of my Monkee brother, Peter Tork," Dolenz posted on Facebook.

It was only eight days ago, on Feb. 13, that Dolenz posted a 77th birthday wish on social media for Tork, born Peter Halsten Thorkelson, saying "Happy Birthday to my Monkee brother, Peter Tork!"

Nesmith initially posted "I am heartbroken" on Facebook, then issued a longer statement.

"Peter Tork died this AM. I am told he slipped away peacefully. Yet, as I write this my tears are awash, and my heart is broken. Even though I am clinging to the idea that we all continue, the pain that attends these passings has no cure. It's going to be a rough day.

Micky Dolenz standing next to a body of water: Micky Dolenz Peter Tork© Micky Dolenz Peter Tork   "I share with all Monkees fans this change, this "loss", even so.

"PT will be a part of me forever. I have said this before -- and now it seems even more apt -- the reason we called it a band is because it was where we all went to play.

"A band no more -- and yet the music plays on -- an anthem to all who made the Monkees and the TV show our private -- dare I say "secret" -- playground.

"As for Pete, I can only pray his songs reach the heights that can lift us and that our childhood lives forever -- that special sparkle that was the Monkees. I will miss him -- a brother in arms. Take flight my Brother."

Tork, who played banjo on stage during Monkees concerts and continued to gig independently with his own band Shoe Suede Blues, talked about his diverse musical influences when I interviewed him in 2013 for "You understand I came up in the folk era. And Pete Seeger is the hero to us folkies. Additionally, you have to throw in the Beatles when they came along. But in the earlier days, people like Steve Allen and Danny Kaye, who were musical and comedy at the same time. That was another source of great influence, in some ways really more influential on my career in terms of my performance than Pete Seeger." Then he paused and said whimsically, "It's true. I have a secret yen to be a musician to this day."

Andrew Sandoval, who compiled and produced Monkees reissues and wrote a book called The Monkees: The Day-To-Day Story of the '60s TV Pop Sensation, also posted on Facebook, "So long my friend. I loved you a lot and remember laughing loudly with you over many miles. Your music will always be in my mind. I can think of no better tribute to those of us feeling this loss than to let our hearts sing your song."

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Subject: RE: Obit: Peter Tork (Monkees) (1942-2019)
From: GUEST,Jerry
Date: 22 Feb 19 - 12:38 PM

I realise that it was always intended to be a commercial band, but it would have been interesting to see if they could have widened the appeal of folk music as well, which the Byrds were already doing at that time. They did a great job of developing and promoting West Coast country rock, prior to the Eagles and the like, but Mike Nesmith had to fight the producers to get his own material included to begin with.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Peter Tork (Monkees) (1942-2019)
From: GUEST,paperback
Date: 24 Feb 19 - 08:25 PM

The Secret Jewish History Of Peter Tork
Benjamin Ivry February 22, 2019

Peter Tork, who died on February 21 at age 77, proved that enduring pop stardom was less meaningful than the quest to understand oneself and the world. Tork won international acclaim as the keyboardist and bass guitarist of the Monkees. His mother Virginia Straus had German Jewish roots, and Tork would include Yiddish phrases in select interviews and speak about this heritage.

As a boy, Tork (born Thorkelson) was inspired to become an entertainer by repeated viewings of “The Court Jester” (1956) starring Danny Kaye (born David Daniel Kaminsky). By early adulthood, he combined Kaye-like clowning with serious humanistic concerns.

In a 1998 interview cited in “We All Want to Change the World: Rock and Politics from Elvis to Eminem” Tork noted that his musical beginnings were not in rock and roll, but as “primarily an acoustic folkie. For us, as acoustic folkies, the politics were very clear. We were strongly liberal, in the Pete Seeger mold. We certainly had a strong sense of right and wrong, and we certainly believed a lot that was wrong with society was the fault of the moneyed class. I think all of us to some extent believed ourselves to be socialists.”

Tork’s social awareness was honed by hanging out in folk music venues in New York’s Greenwich Village, admiring the performances of, among others, the leftist Jewish singer-songwriter Alix Dobkin His fellow Monkees did not share these political sensibilities. A memoir by his bandmate Micky Dolenz mocks Tork’s social consciousness and ranting about “fat-cat, big business fascist pigs!’”

Tork had been invited to audition for producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, who were later to create such films as “Easy Rider” and “Five Easy Pieces.” Rafelson and Schneider planned a TV series about an American version of the Beatles, who lacked the careerist ambitions of their British coevals. Tork got the acting gig because a friend of his from Greenwich Village, Stephen Stills, had been rejected for the role, but was asked to bring along a friend who had the same “open, Nordic look.”

Rafelson and Schneider informed the young American Jewish writer and director Paul Mazursky that they hoped to emulate Beatles films such as “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Help!,” (1965) as directed by the American Jewish filmmaker Richard Lester (born Liebman). As he discusses in his autobiography, Mazursky co-wrote the Monkees pilot episode in which he also made a cameo appearance, developing the quick cutting style that prefigured the minuscule attention span of the MTV generation. Sudden unexpected costume changes and other comic surprises were added. Mazursky was meant to direct seven of the first thirteen episodes, but was dropped after arguing about being excluded from merchandising profits.

As explained in Eric Lefcowitz’s “Monkee Business: The Revolutionary Made-For-TV Band,” the show ran only from 1966 to 1968, but had a disproportionate impact that still affects fans. Books have been published studying each song performed by the Monkees and examining day-to-day activities of the group during their glory years. Deprived of equitable compensation for their work on a show that enriched others, Tork and his fellow performers spent decades, on and off, touring in live performances to still-loyal devotees.

Part of the show’s durability was surely in its zesty writing. Episode plotlines were conventional, as these summaries indicate:

• Bashful Peter tries to win the heart of a lovely debutante while dealing with her haughty boyfriend.

• Peter must prove the Monkees’ innocence when they unwittingly rob a bank in the pretext of making a movie for two con men.

• At an art museum, Peter copies an old painting for two guards who are actually thieves bent on snatching the real painting.

• Peter is the target of a romantic prima ballerina — and a dastardly plot choreographed by the rest of the ballet company.

But scripts were entrusted to sharp-witted writers, many of them Jewish, including Peter Meyerson, who developed “Welcome Back, Kotter,” Treva Silverman, later of the “Mary Tyler Moore Show,” and Bernie Orenstein, who would produce “Sanford and Son” and “What’s Happening!!”

New songs were commissioned by the publishing executive Don Kirshner from admired lyricists and composers, with many Jewish talents in the forefront. They included Carole King (born Carol Joan Klein); Howard Kaylan (born Kaplan); Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller; Neil Diamond; Carole Bayer Sager; and Neil Sedaka.

Tork’s acting in the series would consist mostly of standing around and looking blond, dimpled, and befuddled, a characterization he had developed during early nightclub performances. This echoed a prototype established decades before by the actor Bobby Jordan, who incarnated onscreen a comparable shaggy-haired, bewildered character in Hollywood’s Bowery Boys films.

Tork may have been genuinely perplexed by the producers’ intentions for the show. It was made clear to the cast that they were merely actors, not musicians, expected only to hop about cutely to tracks recorded previously by others. Given Tork’s experience as an instrumentalist, he wanted to perform live. Arguments eventually led to the early demise of the show. A certain lasting opprobrium has lingered among music cognoscenti because The Monkees were intended at first to be actors, not musicians. To this day, they have been excluded from such honorary venues as Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

A different sort of glory remained for the group. Tork’s artistic statement closest to his social and political concerns was also the Monkees’ most resounding failure, the satirical film “Head” (1968). Directed by Rafelson, who coauthored the script with the Monkees and Jack Nicholson, “Head” featured surreal episodes reportedly inspired by recreational drug use.

In one of them, paralleling his own real-life spiritual research, Peter discovers a swami who expresses to him that the secret of life is to admit, “I know nothing.” This conclusion was indeed part of the Vedanta philosophy of Swami Vivekananda, an Indian Hindu monk whose teachings gained popularity in 1960s America.

A more tragic aspect of that era was also included in “Head”: newsreel footage of Nguy?n Van Lém, a North Vietnamese spy, being executed by South Vietnamese Brigadier General Nguy?n Ng?c Loan. This shooting, filmed by NBC in 1968, was juxtaposed with images of screaming young women who, it turns out, are merely expressing excitement about The Monkees, not horror at Vietnam-era violence. Tork felt that by including this montage, Schneider and Rafelson were subliminally discarding the Monkees and looking toward more serious film projects. A box office disaster when it was released, “Head” has since acquired some prestige, and was the subject of an admiring academic study.

As he aged, despite many career and life vagaries, Tork continued to pursue a personal philosophical quest marked by meditation. During a 2014 interview, he remarked: “I think that everybody makes the world better; some when they come in, some when they go out.” To be sure, Tork’s musical talent and cheerful performing style enhanced life for countless fans and will continue to do so for future generations.

Read more

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Subject: RE: Obit: Peter Tork (Monkees) (1942-2019)
From: MickyMan
Date: 24 Feb 19 - 09:02 PM

I taught orchestra at Peter Tork's former middle school, and a few years back he visited to lead a workshop when the choir was doing an arrangement of "I'm A Believer".
I was introduced to him that day, and I told him that when he was a Monkee, myself and my fellow twelve year old boys were passionate enemies of he and his "fake band". And of course, that clearly had nothing to do with the fact that all the twelve year old girls in town were in love with him instead of us! We had a good laugh together!

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Subject: RE: Obit: Peter Tork (Monkees) (1942-2019)
From: Will Fly
Date: 25 Feb 19 - 04:30 AM

Just a spot of thread drift. After reading this I reminded myself of Mike Nesmith's video - often quoted as the first music video to be made - "Rio", which is great fun and very laid back. Worth a watch on YouTube.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Peter Tork (Monkees) (1942-2019)
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 25 Feb 19 - 06:08 AM

Continuing Will Fly's thread drift, regarding "the first music video to be made":

Mike Nesmith's Rio was released in 1977.

The music video that I have most often heard quoted as being the first, is Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody from 1975.

Oddly, The Beatles' 1967 promotional film for Strawberry Fields Forever barely gets a mention in these debates.

It could also be argued that the Beatles (along with Tony Sheridan) made the first folk rock record in 1961, My Bonnie. That question however, is probably a thread drift too far. ;-)

Going back to the subject at hand, punkfolkrocker commments:

"It was only later in the show that ...[their]... musical ability outgrew the format and they started demanding more personal input and control of the band and that's when it all started falling apart."

And although that certainly has more than a ring of truth to it, later work has a good deal of merit too. 1968's film Head is something of a masterpiece, at least in my view.

As Mike Nesmith commented:

"Head was a swan song. We wrote it with Jack and Bob ... and we liked it. It was an authentic representation of a phenomenon we were a part of that was winding down. It was very far from suicide even though it may have looked like that."

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Subject: RE: Obit: Peter Tork (Monkees) (1942-2019)
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 25 Feb 19 - 08:22 AM

Ed - yeah.. I'm well aware of the [counter] cultural importance of "Head" and the similarly trippy surreal final TV special...

[hint.. look on youtube...]

I meant they were falling apart commercially and as a band, whilst growing as genuine artists....

Tork was first to quit the Monkees.

In the early 80s I worked at a new trendy arthouse cinema and media complex.
I tried convincing the manager "Head" would be an ideal movie for him to track down a print
to show to the largely student & arts creatives audience
[I'd only ever watched it on a late night TV broadcast, and was very keen to see it on the big screen...]
But this supposed film expert dismissed the idea out of hand
mocking the notion of having anything to do with the Monkees.
I told him who the director and co writers were,
but the ignorant jumped up prick in an expensive yuppie suit refused to belive me,
and told me to stop wasting his valuable time...
Needless to stay I didn't work there much longer....

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Subject: RE: Obit: Peter Tork (Monkees) (1942-2019)
From: Guy Wolff
Date: 25 Feb 19 - 10:04 AM

I knew he was from Connecticut and was a great clawhammer banjoist .. Im sorry he never stopped at my shop for some tunes .. He lived on the other side of my state but its isnt a very big state ..

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