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Peter Tork, Monkees bassist, dies aged 77

Peter Tork: 'Amazing soul'
Peter Tork: 'Amazing soul'

Peter Tork, a musician best known as the affable keyboardist and bassist with The Monkees, has died aged 77, his sister Anne Thorkelson has confirmed.

“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,” read a statement on Tork’s official Facebook page, attributed to “the team of Peter’s friends, family and colleagues” that maintained his social media presence. “Please know that Peter was extremely appreciative of you, his Torkees.”

Tork was an active member of the band from their formation in the mid-Sixties, when he auditioned to be the group's bassist when they primarily existed to appear on a television show. Tork played the goofy and charming member of the group, but beneath the silliness lay a serious musician who had been part of the thriving folk scene in Greenwich village before becoming a Monkee.

Tork later collaborated with major musicians  including George Harrison, for whom he played banjo. Life with another band, Release, was not as rewarding and Tork served a prison sentence for drugs possession.

In later life, though, he reunited with his first group for reunion tours, playing as recently as 2016. In 2018, he released his last solo album, Relax Your Mind.

Tork’s sister Anne Thorkelson did not specify a cause of death, although the guitarist had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer a decade ago. Stars including Carole King and Brian Wilson paid tribute to him online. The former Beach Boy posted a photograph of Tork on Twitter, writing: “I’m sad to hear about Peter Tork passing. I thought The Monkees were great and Peter will be missed. Love & mercy to Peter’s family, friends and fans.”