Monkees Singer Peter Tork Dies At 77 After Being Diagnosed With Rare Tongue Cancer 10 Years Ago
By LEAH SIMPSON FOR DAILYMAIL.COM
PUBLISHED: 11:21 EST, 21 February 2019
UPDATED: 12:54 EST, 21 February 2019
· The Monkees singer Peter Tork died Thursday at the age of 77
· His sister Anne Thorkelson confirmed the news but not the cause of death
· Tork was diagnosed with rare cancer adenoid cystic carcinoma in 2009 but his regular check-ups showed he was clear in 2012
· He survived by his fourth wife Pam Tork as well as children Ivan Joseph Iannoli, Hallie Luia Tork, Erica Marie Tork
· Davy Jones, the group's lone Brit, died of a heart attack in 2012 at 66 as they prepared for a reunion tour
· Same year Tork told Daily Mail 'I'm an alcoholic' who was '34 years clean'. 'Once I pick up the first drink, something gets triggered and I have no resistance'
Monkees bassist-and-singer Peter Tork died Thursday at the age of 77, his sister Anne Thorkelson has confirmed.
Tork's sibling did not clarify the suspected cause of his death but in 2009 the musician was diagnosed with a rare cancer that affected his tongue.
'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,' a post on his official Facebook page read.
He celebrated his birthday last Wednesday and survived by his fourth wife Pam Tork as well as children Ivan Joseph Iannoli, Hallie Luia Tork, Erica Marie Tork.
Pam was there to support Peter six years ago when he battled adenoid cystic carcinoma – a rare cancer that occurs in the head and neck.
His regular check-ups showed he was clear in 2012 and they married in 2013.
'When I heard I had this cancer, I had a bloody good cry, and then it was a case of, "Right what do I do now?"' he previously told Daily Mail. 'They performed the surgery and I couldn't talk for about a day or two, but Pam came with me to hold my hand.'
David 'Davy' Jones, the group's lone Brit, died of a heart attack in 2012 at 66 as they prepared for a reunion tour.
The same year Tork admitted he was an alcoholic.
He told Daily Mail: 'I'm an alcoholic, and that means once I pick up the first drink, something gets triggered and I have no resistance, so the answer is to not drink at all. I'm 34 years clean and dry now. I was awful when I was drinking, snarling at people.'
Tork was the oldest member of the group in 1966 when their NBC show The Monkees first aired, the 24-year-old helped spark Monkeesmania with an offshoot of merchandise, top-selling music and tour tickets from the TV hit.
Although it only ran for two seasons, the Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider-produced program won an Emmy for outstanding comedy.
As well as playing bass for the four-piece - also made up of Jones, Mickey Dolenz, and Mike Nesmith - Tork sang lead on some of the band's tracks including Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again.
He penned the tune for the four-piece's 1968 movie, Head, which features cameos from the likes of Dennis Hopper, Frank Zappa and Jack Nicholson who wrote the film allegedly while tripping on LSD.
The Daydream Believer hitmakers surged in popularity past the likes of the Beatles and Rolling Stones in 1967 with their album selling 35 million copies, a round double that of their rivals combined.
Titled Monkees, the LP featuring hits such as I'm a Believer and Last Train to Clarksville, resulted in several no. 1 singles for the group.
While trained musician Tork also played keyboards in the group, the Washington DC man was said to be 'mortified' when he joined and realized they would not actually play their instruments.
The manufactured band had tunes written by the likes of Carole King, Neil Diamond and Jeff Barry when they first emerged on the music scene and had used session musicians for their debut release before Tork had even signed up.
The men had answered an advert for 'four insane boys aged 17 to 21' to star in a new TV series.
The show became an instant success with fans including singer-songwriter Tom Petty and John Lennon, who nicknamed the Monkees 'the Marx Brothers of rock'.
They would go on to have Jimi Hendrix as a tour support act. But it wasn't enough for Tork who longed to be taken seriously as a musician.
After the release of their second album More of the Monkees in 1967, the men fought for more songwriting and performance control and their third release Headquarters was a reflection of their chops.
By 1969 Tork had left the Monkees and his venture into a new group called Release proved unsuccessful in 1970. The Monkees split.
Dolenz told Daily Mail: 'When it came to Daydream Believer, which was really Davy's song, we told the audience, "We can't sing this song any more – it belongs to you now," and they sang it instead.'
Reunion tours in 1997 and 2001 reportedly dissolved into bickering, but there was no real animosity. 'There were moments of tension,' admitted Peter. 'But the Monkees never promised to stay together. People forget we started out as the cast of a TV show.'
Trained musicians Tork and Dolenz were cast as the members of a rock band who found themselves in one crazy adventure after another as they struggled to make it big.
In 2012 Tork admitted they smoked substances strong than cigarettes during their height of fame.
Tork found himself in trouble when he was arrested for possession of hashish and spent three months in prison in 1972.
'Well, we were young adults in the ‘60s so there may have been a quick toke before we read our lines, but we couldn't do our job properly if we were wasted on drugs, so we did work really hard,' he confessed.
When Tork, Jones and Dolenz toured the US in 2001, Tork quit early, unable, he said, to put up with 'the drinking and difficult behavior offstage'.
'The truth,' Peter said in 2012, 'is that I'm still confused about my own behavior then and I'm not sure that I had all my own faculties at the time, sober or not. The drinking itself was not an issue and if it were, I would not have rejoined them.'
And he'd always found the fame hard to handle. 'I gave a lot of my money away when I was younger – just left it in bowls around the house and people would help themselves to handfuls of it,' he said.
'I wasn't thinking too clearly at the time and it might have been my low self-esteem, thinking that I didn't deserve to keep the money, but it wasn't really that bright, was it?' he laughs. 'I mean, there's nothing wrong with giving money away to people, but give it where you can do some good.'