There are news reports today that Peter Tork, one of the members of the musical group the Monkees, has died. Tork was 77, but for those of us of a certain generation — including me — he’ll always be remembered as he was as a young guy, when he was one of the four stars of the TV show The Monkees and part of the band that produced lots of hit singles and albums during the ’60s.
The Monkees were the first designer musical group, carefully crafted to appeal to a mainstream TV audience, a mainstream musical audience, and the teenyboppers who bought magazines like Tiger Beat. They borrowed some of the antics that the Beatles popularized in movies like A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, and the four members of the group followed a pretty rote formula. There was the cute one (Davy Jones), the quirky smart one (Mike Nesmith), and the zany, funny ones (Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork). In the TV shows, Peter Tork seemed to be the happy-go-lucky Monkee who always got into goofy predicaments and took the comedic pratfalls.
I liked Peter Tork then, and I’m not ashamed to say that I liked the Monkees and their records, too. I still do, in fact, and I’ve got a bunch of their songs on my iPod — including Tork’s big song, Your Auntie Grizelda, complete with its odd sound effects and fuzz guitar. Who cares if the Monkees didn’t play all of the instruments themselves? The songs were classic examples of ’60s flower power music that still stand the test of time.
It’s sad when figures from your childhood pass on, because it just makes you feel old. Rest in peace, Peter Tork. You’ll live on in your music and our fond memories of an innocent TV show from days gone by.