In Memoriam: Peter Tork of The Monkees (1942 – 2019)

I distinctly remember getting a call from my mom on my blue flip phone in the sixth grade telling me that Davy Jones had passed away. I also remember being the only sixth-grader in 2012 to have known—or cared—who Davy Jones was.

Upon reading about Peter Tork’s passing yesterday morning, I felt like I was suddenly back in my middle school hallway, feeling despondent and alone, with nobody to truly mourn the death of a now 77-year-old musician from the late 1960s. I mean, what other college student in 2019 is utterly broken up over that?

For me, watching The Monkees during breakfast every weekend growing up was the equivalent of some people’s Saturday morning cartoons. The foursome’s antics and music made me smile immensely from the first time I was introduced to them. Even as a kid, watching The Monkees back-to-back with my other favorite musical sitcom, The Partridge Family, was a way for my young self to live out my dream of growing up in the 1960s—or at least a romanticized, televised version of the ‘60s—and somehow feel nostalgic for a time I never lived through.

Peter Tork was always my favorite of The Monkees. He was funny, whimsical, and witty, both on screen and off. I never had a chance to meet Tork, but having met his bandmate and friend Mickey Dolenz back in 2013, I was able to ask him briefly about his relationship with the other three Monkees. Dolenz told me that he loved them all as musicians and people, and I remember him specifically saying that Tork was one of the most headstrong people he had ever met.

Peter Tork was one of the more musically talented members of the fictitious group. Not many people know that it was he who played the opening piano notes of “Daydream Believer,” one of the Monkees most celebrated hits. Tork also worked with George Harrison on the soundtrack for the 1968 film Wonderwall. All this during a time when the Beatles and the Monkees were two of the biggest bands in the world, stealing the hearts of young people all across the globe.

Peter Tork was memorable for a lot of reasons: as an actor, a Monkee, a musician, and a person. Throughout his life, and especially during his time with The Monkees, Tork made people of all ages smile, laugh, sing along, and have fun. I know this from experience, having watched the ‘60s musical sitcom and listening to their music at least every weekend for most of my life.

Mickey Dolenz went to Twitter to express his grief and sadness, posting a black and white photo of Peter, saying “There are no words right now… heartbroken over the loss of my Monkee brother, Peter Tork.”

As our we, Mickey…. As our we.