A beloved pop music and TV star from the 1960s — Peter Tork of The Monkees — died on Thursday at age 77, and millions of fans are mourning his loss.
Tork, real name Peter Thorkelson, was an integral member of the made-for-TV pop group The Monkees that was a hit program in the late 1960s.
The show debuted in 1966 on NBC and only ran for two seasons, but the group achieved fame and success both with television critics and the music charts, with their first major single “Last Train to Clarksville” reaching number one, and the program lived on in re-runs for decades afterwards.
The Monkees, which were viewed by many as a tribute or parody of The Beatles, last reunited for a tour in 2011 to celebrate their 45th anniversary, just one year prior to the death of co-member Davy Jones, who died in 2012 at the age of 66.
Tork’s family posted a statement announcing the sad news on Thursday in a Facebook note.
“We are all saddened to share the news that Peter Thorkelson — friend, father, husband, grandfather, philosopher, goofball, entertainer — died peacefully this morning at a family home in Connecticut,” said the family.
The statement noted that Tork had finally lost a 10 year battle with a rare form of cancer in his salivary glands, known as adenoid cystic carcinoma.
“Humor and courage”
“Peter’s energy, intelligence, silliness, and curiosity were traits that for decades brought laughter and enjoyment to millions, including those of us closest to him,” said the family. “Those traits also equipped him well to take on cancer, a condition he met with unwavering humor and courage.”
The family noted that while they were still “raw” and processing their own grief, they nevertheless appreciated the outpouring of support they had already received from Tork’s friends and fans around the world.
“We want those fans to know with absolute certainty that your spirit and goodwill fed Peter with continued energy and force (and of course humor),” the family said.
The family asked for privacy as they take the time necessary to deal with the loss.
Furthermore, they encouraged anyone who wanted to help to make a donation in Tork’s name to a special scholarship fund for The Institute for The Musical Arts in Massachusetts, a non-profit organization which is focused on helping young women get started in the music industry.