On Thursday, many music fans were shocked and saddened to learn that Monkees bassist Peter Tork had died, just eight days after his 77th birthday. According to Celebrity Net Worth, the legendary musician had a net worth of about $4 million shortly before his untimely passing.
Born Peter Halsten Thorkelson in Washington, D.C., on February 13, 1942, Tork was a veteran of the Greenwich Village folk scene in New York when he joined the Monkees in 1966. He was recommended to the audition by his friend and fellow would-be musical icon, Stephen Stills. Given his reputation as a serious musician, Tork previously recalled being “mortified” to learn that session players had done all of the instrumental parts for what was to be the Monkees’ debut album, The Guardian noted.
Despite his disappointment in a lack of musical involvement in what was supposed to be a made-for-television, U.S.-based counterpart to the Beatles, Peter Tork was credited on six albums with the Monkees during the height of their success, with the first four of these recordings making it to No. 1 on the Billboard albums charts. Though he and his bandmates would eventually be allowed to play their own instruments on their records, Tork left the band in 1968. This came soon after the cancellation of their eponymous TV show — and the disappointing box-office turnout of the Monkees’ film Head, which The Guardian described as a “flop [of a] psychedelic opus.”
As documented in a 1976 interview with People, Tork struggled financially after leaving the Monkees, as he ended up giving away the money he earned with the band. He also spent four months in federal prison after being arrested for possession of hashish in 1972.
“I gave a lot of money away to friends, on the theory that it would come back to me in the long run,” Tork told the publication.
In 1976, Tork took a job at Santa Monica, California, secondary school Pacific Hills, where he “[put] his act together” and embarked on a new career as a teacher. During his time at the institution, the then-former Monkee taught English, math, drama, Eastern philosophy, and “Rock Band Class.” Chalkboard Champions also noted last year that Tork spent some time as a baseball coach for “several” schools during his three years as an educator.
According to People, Tork got his job as a teacher — despite his status as a college dropout — because he was an “independent and creative” individual who had a good personality and knew how to talk.
Monkees Singer and Bass Guitarist Peter Tork Dead at 77 https://t.co/az6qbc2H36
— TMZ (@TMZ) February 21, 2019
After years away from the spotlight, Peter Tork returned to music in 1986, when he teamed up with Monkees bandmates Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz. The band celebrated their 20th anniversary with a tour, and their first new album in over 15 years. In the years that followed, he recorded three more albums with the Monkees, while also recording and performing as a solo artist. Per Variety, he also dabbled in acting — and most notably had a recurring role as the father of Topanga (Danielle Fishel) on the 1990s sitcom Boy Meets World.
While Peter Tork had a respectable net worth — mostly amassed through his numerous projects in his long career as a musician — he was far from being the richest surviving member of the Monkees at the time of his passing. As noted by CNBC, Michael Nesmith inherited $25 million from his mother, Liquid Paper inventor Bette Nesmith Graham, after her death in 1980. At present, Nesmith’s net worth is estimated at around $50 million, per Celebrity Net Worth.