Peter Tork death: Monkees singer dies after being diagnosed with rare tongue disease, aged 77

Tork's sister confirms musician's death

Clémence Michallon
New York
Thursday 21 February 2019 17:47
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The Monkees perform 'I'm a Believer' live

Musician Peter Tork, known as the keyboardist and bass player of The Monkees, has died.​ Tork's death was confirmed on his official Facebook account.

The cause of death remains unknown. In 2009 Tork was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called adenoid cystic carcinoma​, which affected his tongue.

Born in 1942 in Washington DC, Tork became part of The Monkees with Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith and Davy Jones in the mid-sixties, when the group was formed as America’s Beatles counterpart.

All four were selected from more than 400 applicants, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica, to play in the associated TV series The Monkees, which aired between 1966 and 1968.

Tork, a gifted musician, was the oldest member of the quartet.

Together, Tork, Dolenz, Nesmith and Jones delivered many Billboard Hot 100 hits. ”I’m a Believer”, composed by Neil Diamond, “Daydream Believer” and “Last Train to Clarksville” all rose to the top place of the chart.

Tork left The Monkees in the late sixties, after the group had released six albums. The last album to feature the original Monkees line-up in that decade is Head, which came out in 1968.

In the late eighties, however, Tork reunited with Dolenz and Jones to release the album Pool It!

The group occasionally went on tour and did TV appearances, and in 1996 all four members collaborated again for the album Justus.

Jones died in 2012 aged 66. Tork, Dolenz and Nesmith released an album together, called Good Times!, in 2016, followed by a Christmas album in October 2018.

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When Tork announced his cancer diagnosis in 2009, he described it in a statement published by the Oral Cancer Foundation as a “bad news, good news situation”.

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“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,” he added. “On the other hand, the type of cancer it is, never mind the location, is somewhat well known, and the prognosis, I’m told, is good.”

Tork was married four times and is survived by his wife Pamela Grapes, as well as his three children.

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