Peter Tork Suffered From A Rare Form Of Cancer

Promotional portrait of popular music and television group The Monkees.
NBC Television / Getty Images

Former The Monkees bassist Peter Tork suffered from a rare form of cancer, leading to his untimely death at the age of 77, per The Telegraph.

Back in 2009, the musician wrote on his official website that he had surgery for adenoid cystic carcinoma on the lower region of his tongue, which is an uncommon and slow-growing type of cancer. At the time, he was being treated with radiation, per his post.

“It’s a bad news, good news situation,” he said, according to The Telegraph. “It’s so rare a combination (on the tongue) that there isn’t a lot of experience among the medical community about this particular combination.

His official Facebook page revealed on February 21 that the musician had passed, stating “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. As we have mentioned in the past, the PTFB team is made up of Peter’s friends, family and colleagues – we ask for your kindness and understanding in allowing us to grieve this huge loss privately.”

Deadline reported that Tork first learned of the auditions for a television show based on a fictitious pop group through his friend, musician Stephen Stills, who told him that he should try out for the gig. Tork was a musician in the 1960s folk scene, and at first, rebuffed the chance. Later, he would audition for the role of the lovable hippie Peter on The Monkees.

Tork was always portrayed as somewhat of an airhead on the series, but was, in fact, an intellectual and a trained musician. Tork played not only the bass but the keyboard, bass guitar, banjo, and harpsichord.

Alongside Michael Nesmith, Davy Jones, and Mikey Dolenz, Tork was one of the four members of the musical group The Monkees.

Biography reported that in 1965, over 400 people responded to an ad seeking young men for a new TV project. This would morph into The Monkees television show, a fun series about four musicians living in a California beach house together. They were trying to make it big in the music business, encountering many mishaps along the way.

Although the group would eventually pen their own tunes, during their humble beginnings, they sang some of the most memorable rock songs of their generation — including Neil Diamond’s “I’m a Believer,” “Last Train to Clarksville,” and “Little Bit Me, Little Bit You.” They also had hits with Gerry Goffin and Carole King’s “Pleasant Valley Sunday”, and perhaps one of their biggest hits of all, “Daydream Believer,” written by John Stewart of the Kingston Trio.

Tork was survived by his three children — daughters Erica, Hallie, and son Ivan. He was married four times — to Jody Babb, Reine Stewart, Barbara Iannoli, and Pamela Grapes.