Welcome To PTsgirl Purple Haze - Peter Tork, The Monkees, Shoe Suede Blues

Added March 1, 2012:

I have created a web page in memory of Davy Jones. Please click on the image below and it will take you to the page.

LMR's In Memory Of Davy Jones

In Loving Memory of fellow Monkees fan Ginger...

PTsgirl and DJsgirl

An Angel Has Been There

Into each life some tears must fall;
Our hearts may sometimes break.
And sorrows come to one and all,
For all must give and take.
But God never leaves us hopeless;
He listens to each prayer.
And when we're filled with peacefullness,
An Angel has been there.

-- Clay Harrison --

          Added December 6, 2011

          Interview - Part 1:

        • Come On In: Peter Tork of The Monkees is on his way to South Georgia - National Pop Culture Examiner.com

          Come On In: Peter Tork of The Monkees is on his way to South Georgia
          By Jeremy Roberts
          November 1, 2011

          Peter Tork, a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and original member of the ground-breaking ‘60s band The Monkees, will be performing in concert at the Harris Performing Arts Center in Adel, Georgia, on Saturday, Nov. 5, at 8 p.m. The appearance will feature Tork’s other band, Shoe Suede Blues, a blues-oriented combo.

          This year has been incredibly successful for Tork, as he recently ended a worldwide 45th anniversary tour with The Monkees that saw glowing reviews from both critics and fans alike. Indeed, the 2.5 hour shows featured over 40 songs, including their cult-favorite Head soundtrack performed in its entirety.

          The last time a Monkee visited South Georgia was in 2000, when lead vocalist and drummer Micky Dolenz made a solo appearance at Wild Adventures Theme Park in Valdosta.

          The Cook High School Marching Hornets have recently been devoting their half-time shows to The Monkees in a segment called “Hey, Hey, We’re the Marching Hornets.” Consequently, it seemed a perfect opportunity to have the veteran artist visit the area.

          In an interview yesterday from his home in Storrs, Connecticut, Tork spoke about his upcoming performance, the origin of Shoe Suede Blues, touring, his instrumental abilities, and what songs fans can expect to hear.

          A nor’easter had eliminated power to his home, and remarkably, the musician generously refused to cancel the interview.

          How did you discover the Cook High School Marching Hornets were playing Monkees music during their football half-time shows?

          It was actually the marching band’s director, John Newsome. He was just browsing the Internet and came across my website (PeterTork.com) and contacted my booking/publicity agent.

          John said, “Will Peter come down here?” My agent replied, “Well, yeah, he would, but he really likes to bring Shoe Suede Blues.” So John quickly added, “We can find a place to put the band, too.”

          Anyway, I’m coming down to South Georgia. I don’t know exactly what my job will be, but I will make a public appearance with the Hornets at their game on Friday night. Then Shoe Suede Blues plays the next evening at 8 p.m.

          Not too long ago we played my old high school alma mater. It was kind of a sock-hop thing, which was not too swift (laughs). We love to play, and all we care about is somebody sittin’ still who might enjoy what we’re doing.

          What was the origin of Shoe Suede Blues?

          I like to think of it as kind of organic. Around 1997, after The Monkees reunited for Justus and a reunion tour, a couple of my friends and I were out in California talking.

          One guy said, “My wife is in charge of the entertainment at a benefit dance. Let’s get together and play something.” So the five of us decided to go onstage. It was just a jam band really. You know, Does everybody know this song? Yeah, let’s do that one.

          Then we had another opportunity to do some more benefits, all with different rotating personnel. Later we did three shows in a row, each one missing one of the three of us. And we still sounded good to ourselves. Then a friend of ours in D.C. said, “Why don’t you guys come over here and play a gig for this thing that I’m in charge of?” So we said, “Yeah, sure thing.”

          All the time, we were looking at ourselves and thinking, This is such great fun, and it just sounds so good to us. I don’t know how good it sounded to the outside world, but it was exciting for us to be there. And we kept on going.

          I remember saying a funny name for a blues band would be Shoe Suede Blues. Anyway, I had something else to do, and when I returned, they said, “That’s the title of the band.” I went, “What are you talking about?” But they liked the name.

          The original two other members, one at a time, left the arena. Every time there’s been a personnel change, I’ve said to the guys in the band, “Who do we know who can fill in that spot?” And we all come up with ideas.

          The band's spots tend to rotate, but it hasn’t been, Okay, I’m gonna start a band now. You, you, and you. I’ll pay you if you’ll do this. Okay, sure, go. It was never a mechanical type thing. At least that’s the way it feels to me. If I’m lying to myself, I don’t wanna know.

          About how many dates does Shoe Suede Blues perform annually?

          November is a little bit busy; we’re playing seven dates this month, and I’m doing one solo date. We didn’t play any in October. We try to play approximately 40 dates a year. A great deal less than I would enjoy doing.

          There are these guys who play 200, 300 dates a year. You know, let me on that bus, as long as the travel isn’t too far and I have some help setting up and tearing down.

          I don’t wanna do 200 dates a year and have to bring my own amp in, my own amp out, shepherd the people into the venue to sign autographs, then collect all my stuff and walk out. But if I had some help, I think 200 dates a year is what I’d like to do.

          Will you play any banjo?

          I’ll be playing guitar and keyboards. I’ll make arrangements for some piano and organ sounds on an electronic keyboard. Unless they have a piano and a B3, in which case we are golden. But that’s unlikely. Pianos are notoriously tough to mic, so I don’t think a real piano is in the offing.

          We have another guitar player, a bassist, and a drummer. We don’t usually do the tunes that involve the banjo, and we haven’t rehearsed with the banjo.

          There was one banjo song we did called “Bound To Lose” on Cambria Hotel (2007) that I got from the Holy Modal Rounders. I play some banjo in my acoustic solo shows, but no, no banjo this time. I hear the disappointment in your voice (laughs).

          What is the distinction between your acoustic solo shows and Shoe Suede Blues?

          Shoe Suede Blues is a blues-based band. We don’t play all blues; in fact I don’t even know if we play the majority as blues. We do about half a dozen Monkees songs. One of them we do very differently to put it into a blues bag.

          Another is done a little differently, and the other four are done dead straight right off the record, no arrangement differences (except I don’t sing as high as Micky did when he sang lead). We do one blues I wrote, a couple of obscure blues here and there, and some well-known blues (Muddy Waters, Albert King).

          There’s one we’ll perform called “Slender, Tender and Tall” from a guy named Louis Jordan, who was a great, great, what you might call “proto R&B.” Very bluesy, very R&B (check out “Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens”). B.B. King popularized several tunes from Louis’s repertory, including “Caldonia.”

          “Saved By The Blues” is one we do all the time. It was written by a guy (Michael Levine) who doesn’t have anything to do with the blues, but by the time we got done with it, it was very bluesy [it is the title track of Shoe Suede Blues' second album, 2002].

          There was a song by Junior Wells that The Blues Brothers covered [on Briefcase Full of Blues, 1978] called “Messin’ With The Kid.” It’s so infectious, we just have to do.

          A small giant of the blues named Slim Harpo wrote a song called “I’m a King Bee,” which the Rolling Stones covered [The Rolling Stones debut LP, 1964]. We chose Harpo’s “Mailbox Blues” for our show.

          My solo acoustic show is pretty different. It’s hard to do the blues solo - I’m not good at that country blues, Lightning Hopkins thing. I do a song or two in the blues vein, but mostly what I do comes from my folky, folk-pop bag.

          I released my first and only solo album in 1994 called Stranger Things Have Happened, and I do about four songs from that when it’s just me. Those are hardly bluesy at all, just a little bit. I’m much quirkier as a solo performer. It got great reviews, but I wish I’d been able to sell more. But it’s always wonderful to get good reviews.

          To appreciate Tork’s role in The Monkees, listen to songs such as his co-lead vocal on “Words,” the heavy rock found on his “Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again,” his ode to domestic bliss on “Lady’s Baby,” and the gentle folk-rock of “Come On In,” perhaps his finest vocal.

          The Monkees have always fought for critical acceptance ever since guitarist Mike Nesmith admitted the band didn’t play on their first two albums in a memorable 1967 press conference. Critics used Nesmith’s admission as further ammunition in their disdain of The Monkees, and to this day, the band is still not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

          However, when their third album, Headquarters, arrived in summer 1967, the band wrestled control from music producer Don Kirshner and became an honest to goodness band. They played and wrote the majority of the songs on the album.

          In fact, Tork contributed the memorable and driving “For Pete’s Sake,” along with the near-classical piano anchoring the beautiful “Shades of Gray.” The Monkees continued to be a tight recording unit, especially on the brilliant follow-up album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, and Jones Ltd.

          The beginning of the end occurred when Tork exited the band in December 1968 citing exhaustion, immediately after the filming of their doomed television special, 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee (basically the TV version of Head, it aired against the Academy Awards).

          Yet their influence is undisputable today. For example, they outsold both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones in 1967, the year of the seminal Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band). Along with Rick Nelson and The Byrds, the band embraced and spread country music to rock audiences. The Monkees were the first major band to use a synthesizer (courtesy of Dolenz on “Daily Nightly”).

          Their eponymous television show won two Emmys during its two-year run. Their comedic, manic, non sequitur and largely improvised humor was unique in 1960s television and greatly admired by John Lennon. In addition, they often broke the “fourth wall” by speaking directly to the camera. And lest we forget, Nesmith later founded MTV.

          Jimi Hendrix was spotted by Dolenz at the Monterey Pop Festival and opened for the band on his first tour of the United States. Frank Zappa was given national exposure on their TV show and subsequently in Head.

          The Monkees’ timeless music remains omnipresent. Punk bands have covered “I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone.” Country artists, including Jerry Reed, Pam Tillis, and The Grascals, count “Last Train To Clarksville” among their arsenal. Smash Mouth performed “I’m a Believer” on the blockbuster Shrek soundtrack.

          Although Tork is 69 and a survivor of a rare form of tongue cancer (Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma), his love of playing music hasn’t diminished. Expect a splendid evening of blues with Monkee memories sprinkled in for good measure courtesy of Peter Tork and Shoe Suede Blues.

          Interview - Part 2:

        • For Pete's Sake: In this generation with Monkee Peter Tork - National Pop Culture Examiner.com

          For Pete's Sake: In this generation with Monkee Peter Tork
          By Jeremy Roberts
          November 24, 2011

          As a member of the popular '60s band The Monkees, Peter Tork has had a busy year. The Monkees reunited (except Michael Nesmith) after a ten-year hiatus and played to record crowds in both the UK and USA this summer, singing for 2.5 hours and performing the beloved Head soundtrack in its entirety for the first time.

          And he loves touring all over the USA with his blues-based band Shoe Suede Blues. The lead guitarist, Joe Boyle, has a brilliant synergy with Tork, and both are extremely gifted performers.

          Furthermore, Tork is a serious musician who counts performing the compositions of Bach as a hobby. He was always the most talented musician in The Monkees, proficient on piano, organ, bass, guitar, and even French horn. His work is all over the group's best two albums – Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.

          As a songwriter, the veteran artist contributed one of the greatest anthems of the '60s peace generation, the lovely but driving "For Pete's Sake." And although never a great vocalist by any stretch, Tork still managed to leave his imprint on the band with such distinctive turns on songs like "Shades of Gray," "Words," and "Can You Dig It."

          On Halloween day, I had an opportunity to interview Tork in anticipation of a show in Georgia. A massive storm had knocked the power out at his home in Connecticut, but the musician still decided to go forward with the interview.

          Without a doubt, he is a relaxed, friendly, and articulate gentleman who doesn't take himself too seriously. Case in point: as the interview commenced, Tork kidded, "Tell me what you want me to say, word for word please, so that I don't have to think."

          Later when we were nearing the end of our conversation, the songwriter's kind spirit was on full display as he asked me for one final question. Realizing I was experiencing a bit of anxiety, he remarked, "Just take your time, think, and relax."

          To read part one of the interview, focusing on the origin of Shoe Suede Blues, as well as the remarkable story of the Cook High School Marching Hornets and how their love of The Monkees brought Tork to Georgia, visit this link: Come On In: Peter Tork of The Monkees Is On His Way To South Georgia.

          Otherwise, sit back and enjoy the conclusion of the conversation, as Tork discusses how relatively easy it was to learn bass, becoming the first Monkee to play on a session, meeting a Beatle, bootleg recordings, why Michael Nesmith rejoined the band in 1996, the legacy of Justus, the perfect day, a film that had a great impact on his comedy, and perhaps his greatest vocal performance.

          Your first instrument was piano. So, were you comfortable when asked to play bass?

          Yes, piano came first at age nine, and I think by age 13 came guitar. In the early 1960s, what you did as a guitar player was play folk music. One of the ways you played it was to perform a thing called Travis Picking.

          A guy named Merle Travis pretty much created that alternating thumb with syncopated finger picking on top, which meant you had to know the location of your bass notes. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom bom, boom bom, boom bom, boom – that kind of thing you knew if you were playing guitar.

          As it happens, the bass guitar is the bottom four strings of an acoustic guitar dropped an octave. My fingers pretty much fell into place picking up a guitar, and it was essentially the easiest transition in the world for me.

          I hardly even noticed I was picking up a different instrument. So yeah, it’s always been pretty interesting and easy. I’ve always enjoyed playing bass.

          You were actually the first Monkee to appear musically on the group’s self-titled debut album, released in October 1966. How did that happen?

          There was a guitar section at that point – five guitar players. And I was like fourth out of the five guitars. I didn’t have a big contribution by any means. It was just actually Mike being nice to me.

          He was in charge of his songs. There were four tracks produced by Michael on the first two albums, and I played guitar on three – “Papa Gene’s Blues,” “Sweet Young Thing,” and “Mary, Mary.”

          No, I’ve never even bothered trying to listen and identify my guitar on any of those tracks. The only guitar playing you can really pick out is courtesy of James Burton and Glen Campbell. James’ playing always had that amazing high, high lonesome twang.

          [Author’s Note: Michael produced five studio sessions in the summer of ’66, a year before the group took full production control on Headquarters. A number of the songs remained unreleased for a number of years, including “I Won’t Be The Same Without Her,” “So Goes Love,” “Of You,” “(I Prithee) Do Not Ask For Love”, and an early version of “You Just May Be The One.” Peter performs guitar on every one].

          How did you meet George Harrison and become a participant on the Wonderwall soundtrack, which George produced?

          When I first met George, I was dating Mama Cass’s sister, and she was staying at Cass’s. We heard George was coming over to visit Cass, so we looked at each other and Cass said, “Stay away!” We said, “Yeah, as if, not bloody likely!”

          I had already been cast for The Monkees television show, but we hadn’t started production yet. So I got to say hi to him. Later on, when The Monkees played England in the summer of ‘67, The Beatles had a party at a club, and we arranged to meet them.

          George invited me and a member of our crew, Bill Chadwick, to go hang with him the next day. We went up to his place and spent the afternoon. We got to see Ringo again and came home after that.

          I remember George asking me, “Why don’t you come back and play banjo on this session I’m producing in December?” I said, “I don’t have a banjo.” He said, “Well, Paul has one, so we’ll borrow his and restring it and give it back to him strung right-handed (chuckles).

          Anyway, I got to play Paul’s five-string banjo strung right-handed. Apparently I’m not on the soundtrack album. I’m told that if you see the movie, you’ll hear me, although I haven’t seen the movie.

          Author’s Note: When I mention there are bootlegs featuring an alternate soundtrack with Peter’s performance included, he responds, “Oh wow, that’s interesting. I’ll have to talk to my favorite bootlegger and see what he has to say about that”].

          Well, what is your stance on bootleg recordings?

          I think they’re fine. I absolutely approve. Give me bootleggers. They’re filling a need. For example, if there are no recordings of The Monkees in Britain, a bootlegger can come up with an audience recording. Yes, give me that. I’ll pay you for that, sure thing. If I wanna hear that, and it isn’t available commercially, cut out the middle man. More power to the entrepreneurs.

          What led Michael Nesmith to rejoin The Monkees in 1996 for the Justus album?

          Mike had become boyfriend/girlfriend with this woman who listened to a cut of “Circle Sky” [written by Nesmith, it appeared on the Head soundtrack in December 1968]. She listened and exclaimed, “Who is playing bass on that?” Michael said, “Well, Peter.” She quickly replied, “Well, who wrote the part?” And he responded, “Well, Peter.”

          Soon he was sort of enjoying what we had done before. He thought, God, these guys are pretty good. So he invited Micky and me, and we took over a rehearsal hall. The three of us banged away for a couple of hours, and danged if we didn’t sound just exactly the same as we did when we left off nearly 30 years previously.

          And next thing we knew, Michael wanted to be back in the band for a little while. Michael is very much into, What’s the best you can get right now? He is kind of aggressive about getting the best studio, the best equipment, and the best approach to sound.

          So we produced and recorded the Justus album on tape and transferred it to digital afterwards in an effort to keep it as warm as possible. I’m not so interested in the sound per se. If we had made it all digital, I couldn’t have told the difference myself. All I know is I hear the energy of the band. What’s interesting is for us to play together and make a record as best we know how.

          I played all the bass parts on Justus, Michael played all the guitar parts, Micky played all the drums, and Davy played tambourine and some acoustic guitar. If you hear keyboards or piano on a track, that’s me, too. I would play one instrument and then overdub the other.

          There are a couple of things I would have done differently, but all in all, I think it stands up pretty well. So there’s the Justus album for you.

          Mike joined us in the UK for our 30th anniversary tour in 1997. I enjoyed that tour very much; it was a good time. Nevertheless, Mike never said anything to me when he decided to leave the band after the ’97 European tour, and I still don’t know why he left.

          Besides Shoe Suede Blues, what are some of your other solo and collaborative projects?

          I released my first and only solo, pure pop album in 1994 called Stranger Things Have Happened. It got great reviews, but I wish I’d been able to sell more. It’s always wonderful to get good reviews.

          I’ve also done a folk acoustic duo act with my friend James Lee Stanley, but we don’t do that much now. However, we will see each other onstage coming up this month.

          James produced Stranger Things, and since then, we have released Two Man Band (1996), Once Again (2001), A Beachwood Christmas (2003), and Live / Backstage @ The Coffee Gallery (2006).

          The Christmas album was more of a various artists project. James’ sister, Pamala Stanley, is on it plus a few people he admired and worked with over the years, including legendary folk singer Tom Paxton. Pamala is a disco diva in her own world – she gets to go everywhere and do her own music.

          What is your definition of the perfect day?

          (chuckles) Well gosh, I don’t know. Wake up leisurely, do some stretches, coffee, check my email, read the news a little, breakfast, then play some piano. I enjoy playing Johann Sebastian Bach for a hobby, just to take my mind into different places.

          If you’re asking me for a perfect day, I’m performing that night, which means I have vocal warm-ups to do. I should always do vocal warm-ups especially, but I make a particular point of it if I’m singing that night.

          I usually take a nap and then amble over to the gig and play. Pack up and come home. Yawn and stretch and go to bed.

          As to my hobbies, I do some recording at home in a little digital studio, which can be hardly counted as more than a hobby. I like to keep it that way. Gosh, I don’t have many hobbies.

          I like a couple of TV shows, including Sherlock Holmes with Jeremy Brett (a classic BBC show that ran for ten years, beginning in 1984). I’m going through the complete series on DVD now. The period is great, costumes, setting, everything is really glorious.

          Brett is the greatest ever as far as I’m concerned. He’s the only actor who approached Sherlock Holmes’ true insanity (hearty laugh). He brings a brand of his own insanity to the part, which to me makes all kinds of sense.

          Everybody else played Sherlock Holmes like he was this amazingly, deductively, smart, slightly arrogant guy. Remember, Sherlock Holmes shot cocaine when he was bored, and he kept his tobacco in a slipper nailed to the fireplace mantle. Played violin, and did experiments in chemistry to foul up his room.

          He was bonkers (laughs). Barely controlled insanity, like Dennis Hopper as a movie actor. Jack Nicholson is the same way. They managed to channel their barely controlled craziness (usually) into socially acceptable norms.

          I got to meet them both while we were filming Head in 1968. They were pros on the set, and in Jack’s case, still are. You’d look at those guys and think, If I said the wrong thing, they might blow.

          Can you name one of your comedy influences?

          I just purchased The Court Jester (1956), a musical comedy starring Danny Kaye, because I loved that as a kid. It certainly stands up today. It’s just one of the greatest film comedies.

          My girlfriend, Pam, saw that, and she remarked, “Ah, I see where you get all your stuff” (chuckles). She thinks all my comedic, goofy characters are all contained in that movie.

          “Come On In” is an undiscovered Monkees gem that remained unreleased until 1990’s Missing Links, Volume Two. I consider it to be one of your best vocal performances, and the sublime instrumental track isn’t too shabby, either…

          Aha… I used to sing it in Greenwich Village back in my folkie days. Actually, I first heard a lady named Alix Dobkin performing the song while I was living there. It just sounded so much like the kinds of things that I wanted to sing about, so I had to eventually record it in 1968.

          I have no idea why it wasn’t originally released. I just made these things and put them out there. Other people made the decisions, and I didn’t think much to fight for things. It’s a shortcoming of mine, and I have to work on that. I’m still working on that.

          Added December 3, 2011

          Peter Tork & Shoe Sude Blues
          By Keith Loria
          November 23, 2011

          It was back in 1964 that Peter Tork, Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones and Michael Nesmith made television history with a musical comedy show about four pop-rock musicians who found themselves in some whacky situations.

          ”Of course, it was something special,” Mr. Tork says. “We were four guys playing music and having fun, and at the time, it was an avenue where I could play music.”

          To millions of Americans, the theme song from The Monkees is as recognizable as the television theme of Friends or Gilligan’s Island. Surprisingly, the show only lasted two seasons, but as a band, the Monkees recorded six hit albums and toured the world over.

          Songs such as “I’m a Believer,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday” and “Last Train to Clarksville” became huge hits and catapulted the band to the top of the Billboard charts.

          Mr. Tork became a bit disillusioned with the Monkees success and decided to go off on his own.

          ”I’m not sure I would do it again,” Mr. Tork says. “That said, I don’t know if the direction I was going in would have led me to where I wanted to be musically. I have a lot of great memories from that time.”

          Upon leaving the Monkees in 1969, Mr. Tork concentrated his musical efforts more on blues and found up and down success in several bands he fronted.

          ”I pretty much do what I am moved to do,” Mr. Tork says. “I don’t seem to have much say over what I do, but I know that the more blues I can get out there, the better.”

          A reunion with Mr. Dolenz and Mr. Jones occurred in 1986 as a new audience was introduced to the antics of the Monkees thanks to Nick at Night.

          ”I have no way of comparing my life other than see what other entertainers have gone through but I see that their lives are more appreciative narrower,” Mr. Tork says about his sustaining popularity. “It’s wonderful for me. I have a big array of people come to see me play, of all walks of life and of all ages.”

          The trio would perform on and off together for the next 25 years, and Mr. Nesmith even came aboard for a series of 45th anniversary concerts in England and the United States last year, though the tour was abruptly canceled for undisclosed reasons.

          These days, Mr. Tork performs with his band, Shoe Suede Blues, and will be heading to the Record Collector in Bordentown on Nov. 26 to play some original blues music and covers of classic blues hits.

          ”I’m sure it’s going to be a pleasure, but we won’t know until it’s over,” Mr. Tork says. “We always have a good time there with a nice crowd.”

          Monkees fans won’t be disappointed as Mr. Tork’s band also plays some Monkees tunes, adding a blues twist to them.

          ”I’ll do a few, just because I went to a Paul McCartney concert once and he didn’t do any Beatles songs and nothing happened for me,” Mr. Tork says. “McCartney is great but there’s this other thing that happens when he does Beatles songs. He wised up to it shortly thereafter. It makes a huge difference.”

          Mr. Tork also does some solo work, but prefers the band because it’s much more high precision as a solo artist and he can relax more under the comfort of a full-backing band.

          ”In my world, the blues is where the connection lives,” he says. “I know friends that are fanatic about ‘60s pop music and I don’t get it. During the ‘60s, pop music was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it greatly, but as I got older, the bluesier the better.”

          A big change in Mr. Tork’s life came in 2009, when he was diagnosed with Adenoid cystic carcinoma on the lower part of his tongue and was treated at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

          ”I’m feeling much better and am fine now,” Mr. Tork says. “The most interesting aspect of recovering from this nasty cancer I had was waiting for my speech patterns to return to something normal. They will never be the same but when I listen to my speaking voice recorded, it sounds higher. I went from a lyric baritone to a tenor.”

          Mr. Tork insists that it hasn’t affected his singing voice at all aside from hitting the vocal range between full voice and falsetto.

          ”I used to do that better,” he says. “It’s been a little bit slow coming along, but I will get it.”

          Looking ahead, Mr. Tork doesn’t envision a time when he won’t be performing and believes he would sing even if no one was there to listen.

          ”This is what I do and I have always done it. I’m always shocked when someone who I think is good stops doing it,” Mr. Tork says. “Pete Seeger is still doing it and he’s 90.

          ”I know people in the entertainment trade think of themselves as being lucky to do what they want to do, and I feel the same way.”

          Added October 13, 2011

          Peter Tork
          Credit: Marilyn Ingram

          Hey, hey, he's a Monkee
          By Cindy Hodnett
          Winston-Salem Journal.com
          October 13, 2011

          When Peter Tork and the Shoe Suede Blues take the stage at the Bucked Up Super Saloon in Kernersville on Friday, fans hoping to hear a few Monkees tunes will not be disappointed.

          Tork, a former member of The Monkees, and his new band plan to play some songs made famous by American television's answer to The Beatles. But they'll also offer a smoldering selection of gritty blues numbers.

          "I went to a Paul McCartney concert one time, and he didn't play any Beatles songs," Tork said during a recent interview from his home in Connecticut. "It was kind of disappointing.

          "And while I'm not doing a Monkees act with Shoe Suede Blues, we still include Monkees songs. We like to shift things into a bluesier version, like our revamped version of 'Last Train to Clarksville.' Davy (Jones) and Mickey (Dolenz) do probably three-fourths Monkees songs when they perform, but we're doing something different with our band."

          Tork plays a variety of instruments, including the five-string banjo, piano/keyboard, drums, guitar and bass. With Shoe Suede Blues, he plays guitar, banjo and keyboard and sings lead vocals. One of the songs the band will perform is "Ain't Your Fault," one of Tork's favorites from the "Cambria Hotel" album.

          "I wrote that song, and I'm very proud of it," he said. "It has a kind of unusual chord change and is very bluesy…. All songwriters, no matter how hard they work at it, know that the words come through them. So when I say that I'm really proud of a song, what I'm really saying in a sense is, 'Wow! Look what came through me!' It was the same when I wrote songs for The Monkees."

          The Monkees just wrapped a successful 45th anniversary tour this summer, and the Triad performance is the first stop on Shoe Suede Blues' fall tour. Tork last appeared in the Triad in 2006, and he said that he is looking forward to coming back.

          "I love North Carolina - it's very genial. When I was growing up, the South was not that hospitable to long-haired weirdoes, and now no one cares that I'm still a long-haired hippie."

          The long love affair between the public and Monkees shows no signs of abating, and new generations of viewers are discovering the antics of Davy, Mike (Nesmith), Mickey and Peter. Tork believes that the ongoing fascination with The Monkees is attributable to one of the television show's underlying messages.

          "Up to that point, all of the situation comedies - which is what The Monkees was - that featured young adults also featured at least one senior adult who held things together and left people thinking, 'Thank God there's a parent there!'" Tork said. "With The Monkees, there was no senior adult, and that reflected a very important shift. We came along at a time when the old guard, the 'daddies of the country,' was winding down, and we showed how four young adults were making it on their own. People saw a sense of community, camaraderie and common cause on the show, and they continue to respond to that."

          Tork's trademark sense of humor is still evident more than 40 years after he joined the cast of The Monkees. He jokes about the "hard edge" of life in the north and does a wickedly funny southern accent. But when it comes to music, Tork is surprisingly introspective.

          "The thing I hear most often when Shoe Suede Blues performs is from people who come to hear Monkees songs," he says. "They'll say something like, 'I'm very pleased to hear how well you do the blues,' and that means a lot. I think the blues are therapeutic, healing and powerful, and we share that with the audience. We feel like we've found something really special with this show."

          Added October 12, 2011

          Peter Tork of The Monkees performs at Pompano Beach Amphitheatre in Pompano Beach, Florida - Larry Marano/Getty Images

          Peter Tork: Monkees Canceled Tour Due to a 'Glitch'
          By Andy Greene
          Rolling Stone.com
          October 11, 2011

          'I'd say the odds of another tour are better than 50/50,' says the bassist

          Earlier this year, the Monkees put aside a decade of acrimony and toured in support of their 45th anniversary. They did 43 dates in Europe and America before the tour was called off with little explanation in August. "I'm not really at liberty to get into detail about what happened," Monkees bassist/guitarist Peter Tork tells Rolling Stone. "But there were some business affairs that couldn't be coordinated correctly. We hit a glitch and there was just this weird dislocation at one point. I can't say anything more without getting into the stuff that we have to keep down. We need to work on this stuff outside of the public eye."

          According to Tork, the group's internal problems from the 2001 tour didn't resurface. "I find myself much less reactive than I used to be," he says. "Between everybody's behavior changing enough and restructuring the way that we related to one another . . . We did it all right. We had a good time on stage, laughed and created jokes. Jonsey [Davy Jones] and [Micky] Dolenz are funny guys. Some nights Micky sang [to the tune of 'I'm A Believer'], 'I saw her face, not Justin Bieber . . .'"

          Unlike previous Monkees shows which featured mainly the hits, the group dug deep into their catalog and regularly played a 43-song set that lasted over two hours. "We managed to pile in a lot of songs because we dropped the middle verse from some of them," says Tork. "We tried it with an intermission, but it just stopped our pace."

          The tour earned the group some rave reviews. "The residual flack that we were getting back in the Sixties for being a fake group only stopped just before this tour," Tork says. "In 1997 we did a tour of the U.K. and we regularly had houses of 8,000 people screaming from beginning to end. Every single reviewer in the UK said, 'Boy, these people are so deluded. They just can't tell when something's awful. What's the matter with these stupid people?'"

          That 1997 UK tour was the last time that Michael Nesmith shared the stage with his fellow Monkees. All subsequent tours have featured the three-man line-up of Tork, Jones and Dolenz. "The fans call us the 'Threekees,'" says Tork. "I'd say that the odds of another Threekees tour are better than 50/50. As far as the four-man line-up, or the 'Fourkees,' I'd say odds are in the single digits." Back in the 1980s, Nesmith occasionally joined the band for one or two songs when they came through Los Angeles. "I would imagine even that happening again is unlikely," says Tork. "Though it's a much higher percentage possibility than us going out as a four-piece."

          If The Monkees do ever tour again, Tork doesn't think it'll be another 10-year wait for the fans. "It would probably be in the next year or two," he says. "But obviously nothing is settled yet, and until we see a settlement in sight, we can't even begin to arrange a tour. Once you start arranging a tour, you may be able to get it mounted about six or seven months down the road."

          Despite the accolades from the latest tour, Tork still feels that the Monkees don't get the respect that they deserve. "With all due modesty since I had little to do with it, the Monkees' songbook is one of the better songbooks in pop history," he says. "Certainly in the top five in terms of breadth and depth. It was revealed that we didn't play our own instruments on the records much at the very moment when the idealism of early Beatlemania in rock was at its peak. So we became the ultimate betrayers. The origins of the group were obvious and everyone understood that, but suddenly some little switch was flipped and all that stuff came crashing down around our ears."

          While he waits for the Monkees to sort through their issues, Tork is hitting the road for a series of solo acoustic dates as well as shows with his blues band Shoe Suede Blues. "With the band, we do a third Monkees songs, a third originals and a third blues pop covers," Tork says. "With my solo show, I bring a banjo and the keyboard and I do folk songs and I usually do a Bach keyboard piece just for the fun of it. But I know that if I don't do some Monkees songs, the audience will be all kinds of disappointed."

          Added August 16, 2011

          The Monkee who sings better than ever because he had throat cancer
          By York Membery
          August 16, 2011

          Having long ago turned his back on his wild rock past, Peter Tork had every reason to think he was in reasonably good health.

          But two years ago, The Monkees star received terrifying news - the dry throat and husky voice he’d developed were signs of cancer of the neck. The diagnosis was ‘a real jolt’, says the 69-year-old.

          His symptoms first appeared in the autumn of late 2008.

          ‘I couldn’t swallow and food seemed to stick in my throat,’ says Peter.

          ‘I had to chew more than usual. But it didn’t bother me much and otherwise I felt fine.’

          However, a few months later, a friend said: ‘Hey Peter, your voice is sounding funny - you should get it checked out.’

          Peter was referred to a specialist, who found a growth on his tongue. A biopsy revealed he had a type of cancer called adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC).

          A slow-growing cancer, ACC most often occurs in the head and neck. It has also been found in the breast, lung and brain. Although rare, it can strike at any age, but is most common in the over-50s.

          Early symptoms, depending on where the tumour is, can include respiratory problems, changes in speech or vision, and growths in the face or neck.

          The diagnosis came as complete shock, says Peter, who quit The Monkees in the late Sixties but rejoined them on their 20th anniversary tour in 1986.

          The singer, along with bandmates Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones had been taking part in a 45th anniversary tour this month, but this was cancelled last week, and any remaining concerts scrapped, with the members blaming business issues.

          Back in the heyday of the band, Peter admits that he indulged in alcohol and cigarettes.

          ‘I drank heavily in my youth,’ says the divorced father-of-three, who lives in Connecticut in the U.S.

          ‘But I’ve been dry for 28 years. I also used to be a pack-a-day man, but I quit smoking in the Eighties.’

          But as Professor John Langdon, of King’s College London, who has treated many ACC patients, says: ‘Unlike the majority of head and neck cancers, ACC is not associated with smoking and drinking.’ Indeed, it’s not clear what causes ACC.

          Primary treatment for the cancer is surgical removal. Peter was referred to a surgeon, who told him the tumour had to be operated on immediately.

          ‘I joked: “I’m not doing anything this afternoon,”’ Peter says.

          The following week, in March 2009, surgeons at the Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center in New York removed a growth the size of a plum from the lower portion of Peter’s tongue during a six-hour operation.

          ‘The tumour went right from my tongue down my throat,’ says Peter.

          ‘It was a major procedure. They cut all the way down from my lower lip into my throat and opened my jaw bone to get to the part of the neck and throat where the tumour was located.’

          That evening, he woke up in hospital to find he couldn’t speak because there was a tube down his throat.

          ‘I had to be fed intravenously at first, but I had no significant pain - I seem to have a high tolerance,’ he says.

          ‘They gave me some pretty powerful painkillers in the couple of days following the operation, but after that I was able to control it with aspirin and paracetamol.’

          Within a week, Peter was home. However, eating remained a problem and he lost 20lb.

          ‘They’d had to open the jaw towards the left side of my mouth, so I had to go without the use of a full set of lower teeth,’ he says.

          ‘I couldn’t chew anything for a month. I was drinking my dinner - lots of milkshakes.’

          It also took time for Peter to fully get back the power of speech. ‘For months, I was speaking with a lisp,’ he says.

          ‘It was a matter of me learning how to get my tongue under control again. I did my vocal exercises and the doctors decided I didn’t need speech therapy. It was a tough time but my daughter, Hallie, 41, was a real support to me.’

          Three months after the operation, Peter began radiotherapy, where high-energy beams are targeted around the site of a tumour to ensure all the cancerous cells are removed.

          He was given a new radiation treatment called proton therapy, which uses half the usual rate of radiation, precisely targeted so that healthy tissue is spared.

          Proton therapy is not widely used in the UK, but patients may be offered the similar Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy, says Professor Langdon.

          ‘It’s a state-of-the-art way of delivering radiotherapy with minimal damage to the surrounding tissue,’ he says.

          Peter was given two 90-second bursts of radiation five days a week, over a six-week period - with only minor side effects.

          ‘There was a sunburn-effect on my neck, but I could still play the odd gig with my other band, the Shoe Suede Blues,’ he says.

          In the autumn of 2009, Peter was given the all-clear.

          ‘It was a huge relief,’ says the musician, who has three regular check-ups a year to make sure the cancer is still in remission.

          However, the cancer has left its mark. Peter has a six-inch scar on his neck.

          ‘The cancer has also done a number on my salivary glands,’ he says.

          ‘I often have a dry mouth. That’s permanent.’

          But crucially, the tumour doesn’t appear to have harmed Peter’s voice - he sings on one in four of The Monkees songs: ‘I sometimes have a bit of trouble hitting the upper mid-range notes - but I think I’m singing better than ever.’

          The short and medium-term survival rates for ACC victims are excellent.

          ‘There is an 80 to 90 per cent survival rate over five years,’ says Professor Langdon.

          ‘More than ten years, the survival rate is as high as 60 per cent.’

          ‘However, while it might be one of the slowest-growing cancers, it’s invariably fatal in the long term.

          'No one can claim that they have ever cured a patient. ACC returns in an incurable way over the next 15 to 20 years.’

          But Peter is happy in the knowledge that his treatment has at least given him another ten or more years - and is determined to keep on rocking.

          MONKEEMANIA - The Very Best of The Monkees is out now.

          Added July 28, 2011:

          Hey, hey, it’s The Monkees’ Peter Tork
          By Brent Hallenbeck
          Burlington Free Press.com
          July 27, 2011

          The Monkees’ Peter Tork was on a Beatles-inspired television show that aired for only a couple of years yet launched a music career that has lasted more than four decades. He’ll be in White River Junction on Friday with his solo project, Shoe Suede Blues, at the Tupelo Music Hall.

          Tork spoke by phone last week from New York City during a tour stop with fellow Monkees Mickey Dolenz and Davy Jones, sans fourth member Michael Nesmith.

          Burlington Free Press: I’m sure a lot of people who know you from The Monkees are less familiar with your solo work. What can folks expect from your show in White River Junction?

          Peter Tork: I think we made an arrangement with the Royal Canadian Air Force to have a flyover and with the local circus for tumblers and elephants. Other than that I think you can expect some bluesy pop rock and some Monkees songs, some done faithfully, some shifted around a little bit. I think we can expect great music and hilarious hijinks.

          BFP: Performers who make a big impact with something early in their careers can struggle with a love/hate relationship with that work later on. What has that process been like for you and your days with The Monkees?

          PT: Since I went through it I’ve come out the other end, and what lies at the other end is it was what it was. There’s no gainsaying the impact it had on people. I’m calling you from New York, we’re in the middle of a Monkees tour, we’re playing in Brooklyn tonight (July 21) and Milwaukee on Saturday (July 23), and during a Monkees tour people say, “You saved my life, I was looking for a half an hour a week where reality fell away and I could imagine a reality that worked,” and some people just got lost in the music. In the early days when I was in conflict about this it was because I was trying to lay my own reactions on people. It’s a fairly feeble reaction.

          As a Beatles fan when I look back I regard myself as extremely fortunate, just to be able to carry on what The Beatles did in a small way. Relatively speaking, even though we did sell wonderfully well in the record department, the impact The Monkees had was basically on the TV show. It was an honor to participate in that extent in that phenomenon.

          BFP: Michael Nesmith rarely takes part in Monkees’ reunions. Why is that? Does it cause any strain for fans who want him there?

          PT: It certainly doesn’t, to answer your last question first. There’s no stress or strain. One or two people write into the blog, “We wish Mike was there.” For everyone who writes that you get five or six or eight saying it’s great the way it is. The apparent reason (Nesmith isn’t involved) has to do with the nature of the kinds of things he works on, the Videoranch thing (Nesmith’s company) and the kinds of things he does and the way he likes to see himself. Why I can’t say for sure. I’m not sure we aren’t better without him.... Money is not an incentive to Mike. It has no incentive for him. It’s a function of his mood.

          BFP: You had a tough battle with cancer a couple of years ago.

          PT: I don’t know how tough it is. I had an operation for a cancer called adenoid cystic carcinoma (cancer of the head and neck) and I’ve heard others who had it who lost use of their tongue. I have to say I didn’t have it that tough. I had a wonderful surgeon.

          BFP: How has it changed your life?

          PT: None, zero, zip, zip-a-dee-doo-dah. If it took cancer to change my view of life, then my view of life was not very solid beforehand. I’ve been blessed to have a philosophy that didn’t need to shift.

          Added June 28, 2011

        • Patrick Steward Leads Off Guest List for Wizard World Chicago Comic Con 2011

          In addition to Gossett Jr., the Chicago Comic Con celebrity roster includes a bevy of major award winners and nominees, including Emmy Award Winners LeVar Burton (“Star Trek: The Next Generation,” ROOTS), Peter Tork (“The Monkees”) andPhil Ortiz (“The Simpsons”), Emmy Award Nominees Mimi Rogers (AUSTIN POWERS, “The X-Files,”) and Pam Grier (“Smallville,” “The L Word”), Grammy Award Winner Tia Carrere (WAYNE’S WORLD, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”) and Tony Award Honoree Dan Fogler (BALLS OF FURY, GOOD LUCK CHUCK).

        • Peter Tork : Wizard World Comic Cons : CHICAGO COMIC CON AUGUST 11-12-13-14, 2011 THUR-FRI-SAT-SUN Donald E. Stephens Convention Center (Rosemont)

          Added June 23, 2011

          Music: Talking with Peter Tork of the Monkees
          By Scott Mervis
          The Republic.com
          June 22, 2011

          How mind-blowing would it have been if someone told you in 1968 that the Beatles would play live one more time but that the Monkees would still be going 43 years later?

          The Monkees, of course, didn't form organically and hone their skills playing marathon club sets of R&B and rock 'n' roll. They were assembled for an NBC TV series inspired by the Beatles, earning the nickname "Pre-Fab Four" or, as John Lennon called them, "the Marx Brothers of rock 'n' roll."

          Frontman Davy Jones was a British stage actor and jockey. Micky Dolenz was a former child actor who needed drum lessons just to be the fake drummer. Both had good voices for pop songs, and then adding authenticity and antics were two real musicians, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork, who both played in folk groups.

          "The Monkees" lasted from 1966-68, which was just long enough for the band members to become superstars with such enduring hits as "I'm a Believer," "Last Train to Clarksville" and "Daydream Believer," a song recently revived by Scottish phenom Susan Boyle.

          "I happen to think that the Monkees' songbook is a very, very good songbook," Tork says. "I think it stacks up with the Beatles' and the Stones' songbook -- much more in the kind of poppy, bubble-gum vein than some of the Stones and Beatles' songs, of course."

          The 69-year-old guitarist backs up that claim, citing the songwriting of people like Carole King, Neil Sedaka, Neil Diamond and Carol Bayer Sager.

          The Monkees, who initially sang but did not play on their recordings, went beyond expectations to become a touring act between 1967 and 1970. They became a Fab Three when Tork left in 1969 and then a Fab Two when Nesmith -- "the smart one" and the band's most accomplished songwriter -- left to pursue country-rock songwriting and a video-production company.

          He was the only one who did not return when the band reunited in 1986 or 2001, but he did come back briefly in the '90s. Nesmith, whose family made a fortune on Liquid Paper, isn't touring with the group now.

          "Mike is personally disposed somewhat differently for the most part," Tork says. "Not entirely. He joined us in '97 in the U.K. Of course, there's no amount of money we can offer him that's going to tempt him. And he's got projects, things he likes to do that keep him away from us."

          The last time they were together at all was a Jones-Dolenz duo tour in 2002, when Tork chose to focus on his blues band. Then, in 2009, he suffered a bout with a rare head and neck cancer, which was successfully treated by the end of that year.

          The impetus for the current reunion was pretty simple, he says.

          "Somebody made us an offer. That's the long and short of it. Management came to me a year ago and said, 'I think we can all have a good time and make a little money at it, if you're game to do it.' I said, 'You know, as a matter of fact, I'm just about ready for a little fun.' "

          When the three Monkees get back together, he says, they don't have much trouble getting back in the groove.

          "It comes back pretty easily. Every time we do this, when we're off for a while, we go over every arrangement, making sure we have the gist of the original cuts. We have horns. We always have horns on the road, so that means that every record that didn't have horns has to have horn parts added. Once you've taken care of that, everything falls into place."

          At this point, six decades in, he says, having fun and connecting with the fans is more important to him than how people view the band's legacy.

          "I'm not interested in you or anyone else acknowledging what a wonderful (song)book it is, because it's really a matter of taste. I'm just glad that enough people have had enough of a good experience with the Monkees to want to come to the shows. That's really where it comes down for me."

          Added June 21, 2011:

          Peter Tork always ready to Monkee around with the past
          Written by Ed Condran
          The Asbury Park Press : APP.com
          June 16, 2011

          Whenever Peter Tork would play solo shows throughout recent years, the inevitable question was, ''When will the Monkees reunite?''

          The amiable vocalist-guitarist would always note that he was eager to return to the group, which formed in 1966 after myriad performers auditioned for roles for a television series about a rock group dubbed the Monkees.

          ''I'm always up to record and play as a Monkee,'' Tork said. ''Why wouldn't I be? It's always been a phenomenal experience.''

          The Monkees certainly outlasted the quirky and funny eponymous television program, which aired from 1966 to 1968. The Monkees have sold more than 50 million albums. The group called it a day in 1971. However, the Monkees have reformed four times, each without vocalist-guitarist Mike Nesmith. The group played in Morristown last week and head for Atlantic City this weekend. Tork is on the road with vocalist Davey Jones and vocalist Mickey Dolenz.

          ''It's always a pleasure to be out with those guys,'' Tork said. ''We've had a lot of fun over the years and we've had some hits.''

          ''Daydream Believer,'' ''Last Train to Clarksville'' and ''Pleasant Valley Sunday'' are just some of the many smashes the Monkees hit with that are still staples on oldies radio.

          ''You can't escape the Monkees,'' Tork said. ''I always thought we had a certain something.''

          That ''something'' is chemistry. It's obvious in song and even more so while looking back at their seminal television show, which was inspired by the success of the Beatles film ''A Hard Day's Night.''

          The group, which was derided as the ''Pre-Fab Four'' during the '60s, made a surprising comeback 20 years after forming. Thanks to MTV, the Monkees hit a new generation of fans. The music network aired a Monkees marathon and Nickelodeon followed by airing the series.

          ''It didn't surprise me,'' Tork said. ''Kids love that show. It's been generations since we've done that show, but it still works. I think it works because the show features young adults without a single adult guiding them. It was shot during the Vietnam era, which is not too different than today. We're also in the middle of a war that we don't know how to end. Authority was not on our side then, and it's not on our side now. The best interest of youth is not in the authority's interest today. It's unfortunate. Television is different today. A show as wacky and funny as ours sticks out today.''

          The Monkees still have a blast when they take the stage today.

          ''It's fun playing the old songs with the guys,'' Tork said. ''That's always been so. We were fortunate to find each other and have so much success. We appreciate it and enjoy every minute together when we do get back onstage.''

          Added May 15, 2011:

          Monkees fans to get more Tork time
          By David Dunn
          The Star.co.uk
          May 13, 2011

          PETER Tork was often credited with being the brainy one of the bunch.

          And when it comes to discussing the cancer that he beat but has affected his speech it is clear he is also perhaps the most pragmatic of The Monkees.

          “I stopped for a second and realised that if my philosophy of life had been changed by cancer it wasn’t a strong philosophy in the first place,” he says midway through our chat.

          It’s a stoical point among many made by a man who won over millions in the UK and the USA with his musical clowning in the ground-breaking TV musical comedy show.

          The Monkees were put together in Los Angeles in 1966 for the series. It lasted just two years but became legendary.

          Although multi-instrumentalist Peter, British-born heart-throb singer Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Mike Nesmith were musically disrespected by some, including their own management, because of their manufacture, Tork was determined to have them taken seriously as a live and recording entity - something that continues as they undertake their 45th anniversary tour.

          “I was not and am not driven to act,” says Peter at home in Connecticut ahead of their Sheffield City Hall show a week today.

          “The more I go on, the longer I live, the more I see the music as important, however good I am at it. There’s things I’m good at and things I’m not good at.

          “I have gotten off as an actor once or twice but it was rare - the stuff around it was too complicated and too heavy.

          “As a musician in a band every night I get off, I go ‘Oh yeah, this is what I’m doing this for, God’s in heaven and all is right with the world’. Those fabulous moments of bliss...I get those every night we play. There was one night I didn’t out of hundreds and hundreds of shows I’ve done.”

          And Peter includes both of his current bands, The Monkees and Shoe Suede Blues, which he leads when not on the road with the more famous combo.

          “Once you learn how to say it you can never say the name of the song correctly,” he quips. “I have to stop doing Shoe Suede Blues to do The Monkees, but it’s fun. Every time I’ve done a Monkees tour I’ve enjoyed it more than I did the last time. And I’m looking forward to that continuing.”

          Monday sees the timely release of MonkeeMania - The Very Best of The Monkees, a 57-track reminder of some often under-rated moments from a band devised as an answer to Beatlemania. In 1967 they actually outsold both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones on the way to shifting 50 million records.

          The likes of Daydream Believer, Last Train To Clarksville, Pleasant Valley Sunday and I’m A Believer won them fans both sides of the Atlantic while the TV show won new fans when repeated throughout the 1980s. The Monkees 1968 Jack Nicholson co-produced psychedelic film Head continues to claim cult status.

          Their creation may have been controversial but the band became embedded in the ’60s pop fraternity and drew respect from perhaps unlikely sources - John Lennon branded them “the Marx Brothers of rock” while the Sex Pistols played (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone in their shows and Run DMC covered Mary, Mary.

          More importantly The Monkees provided a soundtrack to teenage lives beyond the crazy antics of their lives in a shared house.

          It’s something that still resonates - Scottish newcomers Kassidy lived and wrote their album under one roof “just like The Monkees did”.

          “The TV show, why it worked so well for the generations that watched, is it came at a time when political authority figures of the day didn’t seem to be interested in the welfare of the country as a whole,” reflects Peter, who was first to exit the original line-up in 1968, citing exhaustion.

          “They were interested in their own egos and political careers and we saw something like the ‘W years’ when it as obvious the guys wouldn’t mind seeing the country go down the tubes in flames if they could line their pockets. There was an abdication of responsibility and back in the ’60s when this was going on with Linden Johnson and Dick Nixon we, the young of our day, saw we were on our own and The Monkees was the only show on the air about young adults with no senior adult figure.

          “That reflected understanding of the way things worked and we didn’t have to get bitter about it, we just went about our business. There wasn’t anybody we could rely on. The authority figures were the landlord and con artists out to do something at our expense and we were defending ourselves against that but having a good time getting into one kind of situation or another.

          “So many ‘kids’ have come up and said ‘for half an hour a day I watched The Monkees and life seemed to be good’ because we were happy with each other.”

          The political climate may have evolved since, but the music has endured, partly because of Peter’s driving of their musical aspirations.

          “I hope to have done some of that and I know I had some influence,” he concedes. “It’s hard for me to calculate it exactly. Mike had some ideas along these lines as well. I’m not sure they were entirely musical and I’m not sure mine were either but my ambition has always been to play in the band.

          “We made a record called Headquarters and I was as happy as a clam. For a garage band, which is what we really were, that record seems to me to stand up very well. It was four funny, imaginative guys with a range of capacities and if you want to hear what a garage band sounds like when it grows up, listen to Justus, our (original line-up) record in 1997. I don’t know how good a CD it is but it doesn’t bother me to listen to it, I’ll give you that much.”

          How much of that garage demeanour he hears in Sheffield’s own Monkey men Peter won’t say but he does acknowledge their impact on the current climate. He also says there is still a chance Nesmith may join The Monkees’ first tour in 12 years. “Mike has a different life from the rest of us,” he offers, diplomatically.

          “The other three of us are entertainers and were knocking around and this thing came up pretty much in line with what we do. Michael has other ideas and plans for his life. He might step out on stage with us, out of the blue, but this is not his thing any more much.”

          A glance down the history of The Monkees reveals a love/hate story littered with sniping and fall-outs among musicians who often misunderstood each other as much as their critics did. However, the public legacy is one of enduring rock pop and, for now at least, three of them back on the road.

          “Davy Jones used to say ‘I can’t wait for tomorrow, I get better looking every day’,” adds Peter, now 69 and who has, in between tours, worked as a tutor and basketball coach. “It sort of feels like that.”

          The Monkees’ Peter Tork on fame, fans and learning Welsh
          By Nathan Bevan, Western Mail
          Arts - Lifestyle - WalesOnline
          May 13, 2011

          Here he comes, walking down the street, he says the funniest things to the journalists he meets. Monkees star Peter Tork lets Nathan Bevan in on his fondness for Wales and how a mysterious sign from above helped make him a star.

          YOU’RE in Cardiff?” chirps Monkees bassist Peter Tork down the Transatlantic phone line.“Now I don’t know if you know this already, but that’s the residence of my brother.”

          It’s not quite the opening gambit I expected from a ’60s pop legend, but nothing about Tork - whose younger sibling Chris married a violinist with the Welsh National Opera - could be described as predictable.

          For 30 minutes the 69-year-old from Connecticut happily and eccentrically shoots the breeze on everything from the Welsh language, the craziness that comes with having been in the one of the world’s biggest bands, to why God Himself may have told Tork to go audition for The Monkees in the first place.

          “Oh, I’ve been to Wales a bunch of times to see Chris in Pontcanna, more times than we’ve actually played there,” laughed the star, who will be appearing with his former band mates at the city’s Motorpoint Arena soon for their 45th anniversary tour.

          “But unlike my brother, who’s even joined a male voice choir, I won’t be attempting any Welsh myself from the stage.”

          Not even an occasional, tentative ‘diolch’, I ask him.

          “Are you kidding me, I just learned how to say Llewellyn, man,” he jokes. “I can make that ‘llech’ sound though, so I’d say I’m already doing pretty great for an American.

          “Anyway, you guys don’t exactly make it easy - I mean, you put two Ds together and pronounce it ‘ttthh’. What the hell is that about?” he adds.

          “Anyhow, us Yanks have a tendency to cover everyone in spit when we try speaking your language, and we’re not the only ones.

          “Like when your Prince Charles had to learn some for his investiture, even his instructor had to wipe his eye afterwards.”

          For a man who, alongside Davey Jones, Mickey Dolenz and Mike Nesmith, became the teenage crush of millions of screaming female fans the world-over Tork seems remarkably lacking affectation, even if the effects of fame themselves - drink, drugs and the much of the subsequent ’70s spent losing the plot - proved somewhat harder to avoid.“Oh, I always knew we’d be successful,” he says matter-of-factly.

          “I could see the show’s producers knew exactly what they were doing and had the ear of those studio people with the power to make it happen.

          “And I knew if the TV show took off then the hit records would follow.”

          But the Beatles-esque global mania, surely that wasn’t foreseeable?

          “I have to say, I did anticipate it,” shrugs Tork. “But what I never thought I’d see was us still being around 45 years later.

          “I didn’t even think I’d live to see 45.”

          A self-confessed former drug-addict and alcoholic, the now long-time clean and sober Tork admitted that life in The Monkees took its toll on his health in more ways than one.

          “We’d play to 18,000 screaming kids in an arena some place with no monitors on stage whatsoever,” he sighs.

          “They didn’t mic the amps either, so we couldn’t hear ourselves playing at all.

          “Go on, ask me how my hearing is,” he teases.

          “How’s you’re hearing?” I ask him.

          “Sorry, what ?” he replies, before dissolving into a fit of giggles.

          But, when asked about how influential The Beatles - in particular their movie Hard Day’s Night - had been on his group’s schtick, Tork is quick to confess.

          “It’s a cliche but I’ll use it anyway, we were standing on the shoulders of giants,” he says. “I don’t give us much credit for originality, but we had great humour and attitude.

          “The Monkees were always on your side, if you know what I mean.”

          And how did the real Fab Four react the times you met them?

          “They were fine generally, but John Lennon is reputed to have said of us, “They’re not The Beatles, they’re the Marx Brothers,” Tork laughs, before revealing that he was compelled to audition for the band after experiencing a mysterious calling on the streets of New York in early 1965.

          “It was the strangest thing, I was walking through Greenwich Village when WHAM!” he recalls. “It was like The Annunciation or something, a real Road to Damascus moment – although I didn’t have a horse to fall off.

          “I just heard a voice saying, ‘Hey pal, get out of town now’ and not long after I found myself in Southern California trying out for the show.”

          So The Monkees were part of the Divine plan then, Peter?

          “I don’t know if I’d go that far,” he laughs. “I’m just telling you I had an experience and here I am.”

          Added May 6, 2011:

          Jade Wright meets Peter Tork from The Monkees
          In The Mix Today - News - Liverpool Echo
          May 6, 2011

          Here they come, walking down the street… Jade Wright meets Peter Tork from The Monkees

          THE Monkees were the original boyband. They were the template that all others were made to. Without The Monkees, there would be no Take That, no Boyzone and no JLS. Even the Sex Pistols made (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone part of their repertoire.

          They had the leader (Mike Nesmith), the joker (Micky Dolenz), the quiet one (Peter Tork) and the cute one (Davy Jones). They were based on The Beatles and the other Merseybeat groups of the time, and auditioned to fit their TV roles.

          But, looking to show they could make it as a real band, The Monkees shook off their formulaic shackles, practised hard and went out on a world tour. Along the way, they released hit albums and singles, made a cult psychedelic, surreal film (1968’s Head) and inspired generations of bands.

          Now, 45 years since it all began, Peter Tork says they’re looking forward to coming back to Liverpool – home city of the bands that inspired them.

          “Of course I was a Beatles fan,” says Peter. “They were the greatest rock and pop group of all time, no matter what Rolling Stones fans say. There were so many wonderful Beatles songs that I couldn’t list my five favourites for the great next two dozen songs they wrote.

          “We were all playing the rock and roll that the Liverpool-based sailors were bringing home from the States, right, combined with a bit of British music hall of course.

          “We were thrilled to be in the same stream as Merseyside stuff, as well as the American forebears, such as Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and of course, Elvis.”

          For Peter, it will be a welcome return to the city he played four years ago.

          “My own band, Peter Tork and Shoe Suede Blues played the Cavern Club a few years ago,” he says. “Of course it was the reconstituted Cavern Club, not the original, but it's true, isn’t it, that the new club actually overlaps the old location, and uses much of the same building material, bricks and so on? Anyway, that was a great moment for our band.”

          I ask him what we can look forward to from the Monkees’ ECHO arena show.

          “We’ve made arrangements with the Royal Air Force to fly through the arena at a particularly climactic moment during Daydream Believer,” he says. I’m not sure, but I think he might be teasing me. “Additionally, there will be elephants, and a special visit from an orca whale. As a finale, the entire town of Liverpool will be levitated four and a half feet into the air for 15 seconds, while the band plays Hey, Hey, We’re the Monkees in several keys at once, creating the greatest out-of-body experience since the advent of LSD.”

          So, we now know The Monkees show will be the most explosive the city has ever seen, either that, or we have no idea about it at all.

          Despite the bubble gum flavour of the Monkees’ early hits, they attracted some high profile fans.

          The Beatles were one of The Monkees’ biggest supporters with John Lennon naming them “the Marx Brothers of Rock”. In 1967, The Monkees outsold both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined.

          John Lennon said he never missed an episode of the show, adding: “They’ve got their own scene, and I won’t send them down for it. You try a weekly television show and see if you can manage one half as good!”

          Peter was already part of the Greenwich and Los Angeles folk scenes before he joined the band. He always believed music was his first love: “It was obvious to me that what I wanted to do was play in a band,” he says. “Acting didn’t have the same opportunities for joy, not for me.”

          He only auditioned for The Monkees TV show after Stephen Stills (later of Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, and Nash) tried out himself, and had been told that he’d be perfect for the show if only his hairline wasn’t already creeping up and his teeth were in better shape. He’d recommended his good friend Peter to the producers. The rest was history.

          Alongside The Monkees, Peter still managed to work with Jimi Hendrix and spent his time away from the group working with other bands and honing his music skills.

          Hendrix called him “the most talented Monkee” and George Harrison asked him to work on the 1968 soundtrack to the film Wonderwall.

          “I first met George at Mama Cass’s house in Los Angeles, then we met again at a get-together at the Speakeasy Club in London,” says Peter. “He was kind enough to invite me and my pal Bill Chadwick out to his house, and to take us to visit Ringo later that day. That, of course, was a thrill.”

          He’s been a TV star, a famous musician, made a film and played alongside his idols. So what’s next for Peter Tork?

          “I suppose there's a bunch of writing I’d like to do, but I do believe that ambition is sliding away,” he shrugs. “I keep thinking about writing, and then don’t write, and I don’t think there’s much to be done about that.

          “As long as I can play music with my friends and peers, though, I have no complaints.”

          Added April 14, 2011:

          Monkee in the middle of Henderson's ArtBeat
          By Corey Levitan
          Las Vegas Review Journal
          April 14, 2011

          Here he comes, playing Water Street...

          Peter Tork's band, Shoe Suede Blues, headlines ArtBeat at the Henderson Events Plaza, 200 S. Water St., on Friday. Showcasing dozens of artists and a musical act, ArtBeat is staged by the city of Henderson and Target every Friday night from April through October.

          Tork, 69, was the quiet member of the Monkees, a fictional parody of the Beatles that set "A Hard Day's Night"-like buffoonery to the beat of professional songwriters such as Neil Diamond and Gerry Goffin and Carole King. Success transformed the band from phony to real, and it found itself charting hits and performing concerts 20 years ahead of Spinal Tap.

          "It's never happened before, won't happen again, that the cast of a TV show became a real-life pop group," says Tork, phoning from his house in Connecticut. "It would be as if the actors on 'ER' took up medicine."

          Friday, Tork and his solo band of about 15 years will perform Monkees hits including "Daydream Believer," "Last Train to Clarksville" and "I'm a Believer" -- in addition to blues covers and originals.

          "I was thinking also the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus and a Royal Canadian Air Force flyby," Tork says. "You think the town of Henderson will pay for that?"

          The gig will serve as a stepping stone for Tork, who plans to make a Monkee out of himself again this summer. No Las Vegas date has been set for the band's 45th anniversary tour, which reunites Tork with singers Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones for the first time since 2001, although a couple of unbooked weeks in September look promising. ("Maybe," Tork says.)

          The Monkees were originally assembled by TV producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider in 1966. Tork, the bassist, was the last member cast, and may owe his spot to Steven Stills' teeth. Tork remembers being recommended by Stills after the future Crosby, Stills and Nash star got rejected for a crooked smile.

          "That's what he told me at the time," Tork says. "More recently, he told Howard Stern that it was because he wasn't going to be able to keep the rights to his own songs, so I don't know."

          Either way, it worked out for everyone, Tork figures, "because Steve as a Monkee would have been frustrated, bitter and angry, and I would have been a folk singer for the rest of my life."

          In 1968, after NBC canceled the series, Tork became the first to cancel his band membership.

          "I wanted to be in a band, and those guys didn't care about that much," he says, explaining that Michael Nesmith demanded full creative control while Dolenz and Jones seemed disinterested. The Monkees continued without him until 1970, when Nesmith quit.

          In the years following stardom, Tork became a full-time teacher at the private Los Angeles-area high schools Pacific Hills and New Dimensions. Students in his English, math and drama classes called him Mr. Thorkelson, his given surname.

          "Education is a very big deal in my family," Tork says. "I'm third-generation teacher on both sides of my family. So this job came up and I dove at it. If I had been set for life and idly doing nothing, I might have taken it just the same."

          In 1986, the original series was rebroadcast by MTV, creating demand for the first of three reunion tours that rekindled both the band's musical flame and its personality problems. Tork, in fact, was reportedly fired by Dolenz and Jones from the 2001 reunion tour for sniping at them in the media.

          "Well, they fired me after I quit kind of thing," he says. "But whatever the story is there, that's behind us. We're cool."

          And Nesmith isn't even discussed until reporters ask. The droll guitarist, who always wore a wool cap, hasn't even toured with the band since an acrimonious UK outing in 1997. Nesmith reportedly doesn't need Monkee money because in 1956, his mother, Bette, invented what became Liquid Paper.

          "He doesn't have more money than God, but he certainly has more money than I do," Tork says, "by a factor of, oh, a hundred."

          Tork says that Nesmith was not specifically invited aboard the upcoming tour, "but he knows he's welcome if he wants to."

          Tork's too busy singing, in other words, to put anybody down.

          Added March 29, 2011:

          Monkee reveals his Welsh connections
          By Nathan Bevan
          March 27, 2011

          HE might be famous for the last train to Clarksville, but these days he’s more familiar with the 6.45 to Cardiff Central.

          Peter Tork, the guitarist for the Sixties pop group The Monkees, has developed a passion for the Welsh capital after his brother married a violinist from the Welsh National Opera.

          In an exclusive interview with Wales On Sunday, the 68-year-old American music legend, whose band’s 45th anniversary tour drops into the capital this summer, said he’d been to Wales many times recently.

          His brother Chris Thorkelson, a painter and sculptor, lives with wife Susan Plessner in Pontcanna, Cardiff.

          The last time I was there was a few years back for Chris and Sue’s wedding. I love Cardiff; it’s a great place,” said Tork, who found global fame alongside Davey Jones, Mickey Dolenz and Mike Nesmith in the pop group-spawning hit Sixties TV series.

          “Before that I’d come down to see Chris after my other band Shoe Suede Blues played in London, and another time me and a friend did a grand tour of the whole of the UK and took in quite a bit of Wales.

          “My brother is even learning Welsh, you know,” said Tork, the 69-year-old from rural Connecticut, adding that he wouldn’t be attempting any similar pronunciations from the stage of the Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff, when the band play there in May.

          “Me? Oh no, no way. I’ve only just learned how to say Llewellyn, man.

          “Why on earth do you guys have double Ls only to pronounce them ‘thhhh’? That’s not playing fair,” he laughed. “I’m doing pretty good for an American though, I think.”

          Tork added he never thought the Monkees would still be a going concern nearly half a century after they formed. “I didn’t even think I was going to live to see 45 years of age,” laughed the recovering alcoholic.

          The Monkees play the Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff, on Tuesday, May 24. Call 029 2022 4488 for tickets.

          Added March 29, 2011:

          The Agency Group Announces 45th Anniversary Tour For The Monkees
          March 23, 2011

          The Agency Group, one of the world's leading entertainment booking agencies, is announcing it handled all of the booking for The Monkees 45th Anniversary Tour. The renowned pop rock trio of Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork will reunite and celebrate its 45th anniversary with shows in the UK and North America, marking the group's first live performances in more than a decade.

          The Monkees tour kicks off in the UK on Thursday, May 12th at the Echo Arena in Liverpool and wraps in Nottingham at the Royal Centre on May 25th. The Monkees will then embark on the North American leg of their tour hitting more than 30 cities in the US and Canada. The North American leg starts June 3rd in Atlanta, GA and comes to a close in Los Angeles on July 16th. Highlights include a June 16th performance at the Beacon Theater in New York City and multi-night stops in both Toronto and Minneapolis.

          Neil Warnock, CEO of The Agency Group, booked the UK shows and agents Bruce Solar and Andy Somers in The Agency Group's Los Angeles office booked the North America shows.

          "It's been over ten years since The Monkees performed live together and the timing was absolutely perfect for a reunion tour to celebrate their 45th anniversary," said Solar. "Our booking strategy was to start the tour in Europe to generate buzz and then bring The Monkees to the US for a six week tour playing shows at a combination of venues including performing arts centers, casinos and hard ticket venues."

          Solar added, "The Agency Group is exploring a potential second leg of the US tour starting in late September along with shows in other parts of the world through the remainder of 2011 and heading into 2012."

          The Monkees were assembled in Los Angeles in 1966 for the American television series The Monkees, which aired from 1966 to 1968. The musical acting quartet was composed of Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, and Michael Nesmith. The group sold 50 million records worldwide with major international hits including "I'm a Believer", "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone", "Daydream Believer", "Last Train to Clarksville", and "Pleasant Valley Sunday."

          Exclusive: The Monkees Resolve Personal Issues for 45th Anniversary Tour
          By Andy Greene
          Rolling Stone.com
          March 7, 2011

          'I had a meltdown on the last tour,' says guitarist Peter Tork. 'I ticked the other guys off good and proper'

          When The Monkees last hit the road together 10 years ago things didn't go so well. Guitarist Peter Tork quit near the end, later telling the press that Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz were drinking to the point that they became "mean and abusive." In 2009 Jones told the National Enquirer that he had no interest in a reunion, adding that he "couldn't imagine sharing a stage with Micky Dolenz."

          So it came as surprise last week when they announced a 45th anniversary world tour. "It was the estimation of certain professional people that this could work," Tork tells Rolling Stone. "They asked if the three of us were interested in doing it. After some discussion we all said 'yeah.' That's just about the bottom line of it."

          In a significant shift, Tork now takes full responsibility for the backstage problems on the 2001 tour. "We were getting along pretty well until I had a meltdown," he says. "I ticked the other guys off good and proper and it was a serious mistake on my part. I was not in charge of myself to the best of my ability – the way I hope I have become since. I really just behaved inappropriately, honestly. I apologized to them."

          He now says alcohol played only a small role in the group's problems. "I'm sure it played a part, but I cannot honestly say it was anything more than a very slight part," he says. "It could have been very, very minor. But the main thing was that I had a meltdown and I messed up."

          With the personal problems resolved, the three remaining Monkees were able to sit down and plan their tour. "We're going to do all the Monkee hits," Tork says. "Starting with the five major ones: The two believers ['Daydream Believer' and 'I'm A Believer'], 'Last Train To Clarksville,' 'Pleasant Valley Sunday' and '(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone.' Then we'll do the top twenties and the top hundreds and then the obscure ones." Of the many deep cuts to draw from, Tork hopes to revive the a cappella song "Riu Chiu," and "As We Go Along" and "Porpoise Song" from the Head soundtrack.

          The band will perform in front of a gigantic HD screen. "Sometimes we'll make it look like the backdrop of the apartment [from the Monkees' Sixties TV series]," says Tork. "Sometimes we'll just be out on the wild and windy plain, singing 'I Want To Be Free' to the wind. The whole thing is about moods and trips."

          The three Monkees will bring on other musicians for the tour, but Tork wants to strip it back at points. "I have hopes that the three of us are just gonna sit down and rock," he says. "It can be Davy on rhythm guitar or bass, me on keyboards or bass and Mickey just wailing away on the drums."

          Founding member Michael Nesmith isn't participating in the tour: His mother invented Liquid Paper and left him with her fortune, leaving him financially secure for life. He did return for the group's 1996 LP Justus and a brief European tour to support it. "I last saw him at the end of the 1997 British tour," says Tork. "I haven't talked to him in all that time."

          Nesmith popped up onstage at a couple of Monkees reunion shows in the Eighties. Might that happen again? "It's possible," says Tork. "I'd be game for it. Michael's always welcome."

          Two years ago Tork feared that he might never tour again when he was diagnosed with a rare form of head-neck cancer called Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma. "Two years ago to the day I went under the knife in New York at Sloan-Kettering," he says. "They sliced open my lip, broke my jaw, reached down inside and carved this thing off my tongue. Later I underwent radiation. My checkups have been clear ever since....I'm excruciatingly lucky. I count my blessings every day."

          Added January 3, 2011:

          The Monkees' Peter Tork Admires Susan Boyle
          By Linda Laban - PopEater.com
          December 28, 2010

          When Monkees bassist Peter Tork heard that Susan Boyle had covered the prefab four's '60s pop hit 'Daydream Believer,' his first reaction was, "Good for her." Tork tells Popeater that he has nothing but admiration for Boyle and her unusual story. "Can you imagine? You wait and you wait and you wait, and it's way past the time anyone else has ever got famous, and boy! Her first appearance was breathtaking. I was so impressed. What resonance. A great resonance. Yeah!" he says applauding the 'Britain's Got Talent' sensation.

          Obviously, there are some very nice royalties to be had when a song is featured on the best selling album of 2009. But Tork's enthusiasm isn't motivated by money. He won't see a penny from Boyle's cover.

          "The record was very little to do with me," he says humbly of 'Daydream Believer,' one of the greatest pop songs of the '60s beat era. "I did help make the record. That's my piano playing. But I didn't have anything to do with the writing of that song. Interestingly, the man who wrote that song was the first replacement member of the Kingston Trio, John Stewart," says the folk revival buff. "He didn't have anything to do with making our recording and making a hit of that song. I was there and he wasn't!" he adds with mock hubris, as sweetly goofy as his Monkees character.

          Tork, born Peter Thorkelson, performs sporadically these days. Earlier this year, he was involved in a musical theater piece called 'Carny Knowledge: A Sideshow Extravaganza,' in Cambridge, Mass. The show was written and organized by Tork's brother, Nick, a Boston-based cartoonist and artist. The Tork brothers played in the Carny Band, a neo vaudevillian jug band. Tork's Shoe Suede Blues project keeps him active, too. Might the brothers hit the road? "I have not heard a word about that. I doubt it, but anything's possible."

          Added November 5, 2010:

          Peter Tork sings the blues, but not about his past
          By Rege Behe
          Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
          November 4, 2010

          A little more than 40 years ago, the Monkees caused the same sort of frenzied reaction that marked the arrival of the Beatles in America a few years earlier. There were screaming teenaged girls, countless stories and photos in magazines such as Tiger Beat, and a highly rated television show that aired from 1966 to 1968.

          To this day, ex-Monkee Peter Tork hears from fans who say how much the program meant to them. But Tork, who performs Friday with his band Shoe Suede Blues at Moondog's in Blawnox, says one of the reasons for the TV show's popularity was in how the band was portrayed.

          "Here's the little secret about 'The Monkees': It was the only TV show of its day, and for decades in either direction, about young adults without a single senior adult figure," Tork says. "That reflected the political reality of the time that authorities had relinquished their moral value."

          Tork goes on to talk about the Vietnam War, the injustice so many people his age felt, and other social concerns of the 1960s. But for many, the Monkees were just those cute cuddly boys cast as America's own fab four, even if the band often bristled at the limitations placed on them by the show's producers.

          But Tork is not one to gainsay the past; he has nothing but good memories of his time as a Monkee. And while Shoe Suede Blues is his main focus, he's not going to disappoint fans by going strictly B.B. King or Muddy Waters.

          "I am, of course, gratified when people come up to me and say 'I came to hear the Monkees' songs, thanks for playing them, but I really loved the blues part,' " Tork says. "I won't say that I'm not paying attention, because I am, given the expectations. I'm aware of my history."

          Tork, who was born in Washington, D.C., in 1942 and currently lives in Connecticut, started out playing folk music in Greenwich Village. His heroes were bluesman such as Lightnin' Hopkins and Albert King, but there was one musician he admired who had no influence whatsoever on Tork: Little Richard.

          "He was so freaking good that I knew I was never going to cross the yawning chasm between his talent and mine," Tork says. "He was awe-inspiring, and still remains the greatest rock 'n' roll singer of all time."

          Tork left the Monkees at the end of 1968 (he was the first to exit the band), tried to launch a solo career, failed, and battled alcohol problems for years. He's been sober for almost 30 years, and recently took time to address graduates of a drug court in California as part of his theory that recovery from any addiction is incomplete without service to others.

          "I have been given a huge treasure: to not have to drink, which was my experience," he says. "It was obliged, it was mandatory. To be relieved of that imperative is an enormous gift, a jewel beyond price. There is no amount of money to make me give it up. What would I do with the money? ... And to keep this gift is to deny it to others."

          Added November 2, 2010:

          Tork: Monkees eyeing reunion tour
          November 1, 2010

          Musician Peter Tork, the guest speaker at Tulare County Adult Drug Court Graduation, announced during a press conference at the Visalia Convention Center prior to the graduation and commencement exercises Thursday night, that there is a possibility of a Monkees reunion.

          “If things go as planned, the Monkees - three of us - will be performing again in 2011. No Michael Nesmith,” Tork said, and then laughed as he continued. “It’s OK, we’ll do a better show without him.”

          The Monkees - consisting of Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones, Nesmith and Tork, appeared in their own television series, which won two Emmy awards, and released four albums that went to No. 1 on the pop charts.

          Tork currently tours with his band Peter Tork and The Shoe Suede Blues.

          Tork, who struggled with alcohol and drugs for years, has been clean and sober for 29 years.

          He addressed more than 200 Drug Court graduates.

          When asked what his thoughts were on California Proposition 19, the regulate, control and tax cannabis act, and whether or not he thought marijuana was a gateway drug that could lead to other drugs, Tork answered: “In general, as long as you shun things, they will hide and fester in the dark. The more in the open, the more sunshine, the better.”

          Added November 2, 2010:

          Ex-Monkees star talks to 207 drug court grads
          By Gerald Carroll
          October 29, 2010

          Human beings are "not built to do things alone," said former 1960s music and television star Peter Tork as he congratulated 207 graduates of the Tulare County Adult Drug Court during its 2010 graduation at the Visalia Convention Center.

          Tork, 68, a member of the famed Monkees rock band that also had a two-year television run while reeling off such enduring hits as "I'm a Believer" and "Last Train From Clarksville," was commencement speaker for the event, which attracted an estimated 3,000 onlookers.

          "Alcohol feels great - for a little while," said Tork, who admits to a lifelong battle against drinking. "Fame feels great - for a little while."

          But in the long-term, going it alone doesn't work, Tork said.

          "I was baptized a socialist," he said. "My faith is in a community, and when you walk into a room full of rehabilitated people, it's like turning on a light switch. That's my faith."

          Added November 2, 2010:

          Graduates believe and succeed
          By Esther Avila
          October 29, 2010

          As the crowd cheered for the graduates, Judge Roper introduced the night’s commencement speaker - Peter Tork, of the 1960s-era The Monkees, a pop-rock group with it's own show that won two Emmy awards and had several No. 1 hits.

          Tork became heavily involved in alcohol and drug use but sought treatment for addiction when he realized it was destroying his life. He has been drug free for more than 29 years.

          “Booze was my Jones, that’s the one that nabbed me,” Tork said. “Booze was my friend. The worries of the world sloughed off.”

          One day Tork decided to start keeping a record of his drinking and soon found himself drinking in excess of 12 beers a day.

          “But I wasn’t an alcoholic. Because when I was in jail, I couldn’t drink it and I was alright. When I was in the hospital, I couldn’t have it, and it didn’t bother me,” Tork said.

          The realization came one day while in New York when he found himself with a beer in his hand and suddenly realizing he had a problem. He talked to his wife and admitted to her that he had a problem and needed help.

          Tork praised the Drug Court system and other drug-recovery organizations.

          “I could have died in agony or distress,” Tork said. “But this, this is humbling. This stuff - Drug Court - this moment, standing in front of you - this is the other side.”

          Added October 18, 2010:

        • Generations of Monkees' Fans Flock to See Peter Tork - North Fork, NY Patch - Great photos with this article!

          Added September 30, 2010:

          Peter Tork: I'm Bringing the Hits to Greenport
          By Erin Schultz
          North Fork, NY Patch
          September 29, 2010

          North Fork Patch got Peter Tork of Monkees fame on the phone for a chat before his Sunday show in Greenport.

          Peter Tork catapulted to fame in the mid-1960s as a member of the prefab but talented television pop group the Monkees. But the seasoned musician, now 68, said that the defining experience of being a Monkee didn't change him as a person or an artist.

          "I'm going to have a Monkee on my back until the day I die," he said with a laugh during a phone interview Wednesday morning. "But really, I'd be in the exact same place am now with or without the Monkees."

          No longer touring with Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith and Micky Dolenz, the multi-instrumentalist will entertain about 40 people Sunday night at Sandpiper Ice Cream Store on Main Street in Greenport. The sold-out, solo show will feature Tork's own bluesy repertoire he's been cultivating for several years with his current band, Shoe Suede Shoes, and mandatory Monkees classics like "I'm a Believer," "Pleasant Valley Sunday," and "Last Train to Clarkesville."

          The 7 p.m. concert is also a fundraiser for the Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma Research Foundation, a charity dedicated to finding a cure for the head-and-neck cancer that Tork recently battled himself. Tork is now cancer free and splits his time between touring, songwriting and providing tidbits of wisdom for anyone who wants to ask on his Internet advice column, askpetertork.com.

          We had a philosophical chat with Tork over the phone about being forever a Monkee and how he's handled his cancer recovery.

          Q: So is an ice cream parlor on a Sunday the typical gig for you these days?

          A: (Laughs) It's not unheard of for me. I play fun places like this occasionally.

          Q: Can we expect to hear any Monkees classics on Sunday?

          A: Oh God yes, how do you not?

          Q: Obviously, being cast on the Monkees changed your life. Was there any experience since then that was that big of a turning point personally or professionally for you?

          A: Not really, no. I think I'd be in exactly the in same place I am now with or without the Monkees. I was useful there for that certain configuration. We've done reunion tours since, and there's no telling it won't happen again. But I'm the same kind of person, and I'm playing the same kind of music I would be regardless though I wouldn't be playing Monkees tunes if I hadn't been in the Monkees (laughs).

          Q: Do you ever see Davy, Mike and Micky anymore?

          A: Mike, never. I watched a video of him on YouTube the other day, that's about it. Micky I see fairly regularly now. I'm helping him promote his new CD, "King for a Day," a collection of Carole King songs. And I was on stage with Davy recently for a couple of numbers, but I don't see him nearly as much as Micky.

          Q: You have a clean bill of heath now?

          A: I do. I got checked in August and have another checkup in December, God willing it's clean. I got cured in an hour. The doctor just cut the cancer right out, though he took a little tongue with it. But I've managed to compensate fairly well.

          Q: Tell me about how askpetertork.com evolved.

          A: For me, the business of constructing a cosmology that seems to be so true for me has been a lifelong project as well as the music. A lot of people ask me if cancer changed my world view at all, and I have to say no. Because it'd have to be an awfully cheap world view that gets blown away by something like cancer. The world view has got to be ready for that, just like it has to be ready for something like the Holocaust. And I mean, come on, my own personal cancer next to something like that is less than point-zero-sixteenth of a percent. Probably much less than that, actually.

        • A few of our favorite things: GloucesterTimes.com

          Tork, unlike his fellow Monkees from the 1960s TV show, actually was a musician before starring in the 1960s TV show. He now has his own group, Shoe Suede Blues.

          Added September 15, 2010:

        • Rhino Handmade To Release Three Disc Deluxe Edition Of The Monkees: The Criterion Cast

        • Alternate History X: What If Stephen Stills Had Joined the Monkees?: Consequence of Sound

          New Jersey - Tork and Blue Suede Shoes at Skylands - Straus Newspapers
          August 13, 2010

          I'm one of the lucky ones, said Tork, one of the original Monkees from the 1960s hit TV show. For those that don't make it, it's a devastating experience for them and their families. It's even more unfortunate when cancer takes one of our younger ones.

          Make sure to check out Peter Tork Updates (articles, interviews). I have moved several items to that page on June 13, 2008. In doing that, I found several links to web sites that no longer exist. Those have been removed.

          Ex-Monkee Peter Tork believes in staying positive
          By David Yonke - Blade Staff Writer
          Toledo Blade.com
          November 5, 2009

          Peter Tork never asked "Why me?" when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer a year ago. The former Monkee prefers a more positive outlook on life.

          The 65-year-old singer-guitarist, who will perform a concert in Toledo tomorrow night with his Shoe Suede Blues band, said he stayed away from negative thoughts after being told he had adenoid cystic carcinoma, or ACC, of the lower tongue.

          "A good attitude generates more comfort. When people say, 'Why me?' and 'How could this happen?' or 'Somebody must be made to pay for my problems,' that attitude is a low-skill approach. It's not very contentment-making," Tork said in an interview last week.

          And while he added that he's not afraid to die, it's not because he believes in a glorious afterlife.

          "I don't like pain and I don't want to hurt, but the sheer fact of dying in and of itself is of no consequence to me," he said. "When I die, there won't be a 'me' of any kind. There won't be anything, no collection of what we think of as an immutable, individual something or other."

          Tork obviously has been doing a lot of philosophizing since his days with the Monkees, the mid-1960s pop-rock band formed by corporate executives looking to tap into some of the Beatlemania phenomenon.

          The group proved to be an artistic as well as a commercial success, with a body of work that Tork considers today to be among the best in rock history. Those hits include "Last Train to Clarksville," "I'm a Believer," and "Pleasant Valley Sunday."

          Tork, who writes an advice column for the Daily Panic Web site, said he's fully recovered from cancer treatment, but recently has been struggling with hitting falsetto notes.

          "I was singing fine two months after I quit radiation," he said. "So it's probably not related to the cancer or treatment at all. I hope it's only momentary."

          Shoe Suede Blues features Tork on guitar, keyboards, and vocals, backed by a drummer, bass player, and guitarist. The band will play songs from Tork's solo albums, his Shoe Suede Blues CDs, and, of course, a few Monkees classics such as "Daydream Believer" and "Last Train to Clarksville."

          But Tork likes to give the golden oldies a new look.

          "We make 'Clarksville' into a slow grind, for example," he said.

          Note: The web site below has a place for comments. Make sure to check it out.

        • The Washington Post: Peter Tork's Cancer, In His Own Words - The Checkup

          Peter Tork's Cancer Returns
          June 12, 2009

          Peter Tork's cancer has recurred, a spokeswoman for the Mansfield resident and former Monkee said Thursday.

          "The doctors have given him an excellent chance, 80 percent, of containing this new tumor and shrinking it, said Therra C. Gwyn, who described Tork as "shaken but not stirred" by the news.

          Tork, 67, had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer earlier this year and in March had chemotherapy and radiation treatment successfully enough to resume performing in recent weeks, including gigs in Mansfield and Manchester.

          The singer and guitarist, who now performs with a group called Shoe Suede Blues, will continue radiation treatment, Gwyn said "He states unequivocally that he's planning on carrying on for a long time," she said.

          Peter Tork Celebrates His Old School With A Rock-Blues Blend
          By Thomas Kintner - Special to The Courant
          May 31, 2009

          In March, Peter Tork had surgery to treat a rare, slow-growing form of head and neck cancer. Friday night, the former Monkee, who nowadays fronts a quartet called Shoe Suede Blues, performed in public for the first time since his surgery, as part of the 50th anniversary celebration at E.O. Smith High School in Mansfield.

          A member of the school's first graduating class, the 67-year-old Tork today makes his home in town. He was chatty and sported his typical playful wit in conversation outside the room before his show, showing few effects of his illness as he noted with a sharp chuckle that the worst right now is a numb lip and pain in his teeth. He expects to begin radiation treatments within the next week.

          Established as a sort of headliner for the evening despite being called a "surprise guest," he wandered the school gymnasium among a crowd of a little more than 100 in advance of his own set, and encountered several acquaintances. He laughed to recall that he had run into a girl who in the sixth grade passed him a note suggesting they get together.

          Tork noted with a little regret that the gym, with its thudding, rough acoustics, is not an ideal place to play, but acknowledged there was something nice about playing at home, and punctuated that admission with a laugh, cackling, "and being here means I know I've got the best band in town!"

          He was certainly right about that in the context of the night's somewhat misnamed "Battle of the Bands." He certainly would have been the runaway winner had there been a competition between him and the three groups of past graduates who played blunt covers of everything from Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit" to a splattered rock rendition of "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy." The disparity was less noticeable in the context of the school's celebration, and in fact helped give the main attraction a pleasantly informal vibe.

          Tork's quartet plowed through a throwback blend of rock and blues, whether digging into Monkees fare for "Last Train to Clarksville" done as a beefy blues simmer, or seeing Tork jump from electric guitar to keyboards to propel the springy, old-school chug of "Wine-Texas BBQ." He included expected tunes such as "I'm a Believer" and "Daydream Believer," but snapped at lyrics with the most enthusiasm when he got to sharp-edged workouts like "Saved by the Blues."

          Always more of a musician than Monkees records let on, Tork kept up with the very capable Lauren Ellis as they lined up their electric licks, with him doing the lion's share of the filling as his brother Nick Thorkelson hammered at keyboards as a guest on "Wild About My Lovin'." The taste for rebellion that has always been an undercurrent of Tork's work reared its head again when he closed his 11-song, 50-minute show with what he termed a "nasty," Sex Pistols-style version of "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone," and it was encouraging to see that despite his recent troubles, he still had the vitality needed to offer that edge.

          Ex-Monkee Peter Tork Battles Cancer
          May 29, 2009

          Peter Tork, best known for his stint in '60s pop band The Monkees, is tackling radiation treatment and a summer tour at the same time.

          The onetime Monkee was diagnosed with Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma in March, and underwent surgery to remove a tumor from the base of his tongue. Surgeons had to un-hinge his jaw in order to reach the growth, but the procedure was deemed a success. Now, he begins a six-week cycle of radiation treatment to fight a relapse.

          The brush with cancer inspired Tork to launch his Peter Tork Hope On Project, an effort to help raise funs for research for rare forms of cancer such as the Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma he suffered. He'll be peddling those goddamned plastic bracelets that have become synonymous with cancer research efforts emblazoned with his "Hope On" slogan.

          "Although we are not going so far to start a full-fledged charity since we don't presently have the time or man or woman power for that," Tork said in a statement, "we will be donating a percentage of profits from the sale of Hope On wristbands to the Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma Research Foundatlon and another charity for rare cancer to help them do what they do best - educate, fund research and raise awareness. Pretty cool, huh?"

          After that he has little time to rest. His latest musical vehicle, Suede Shoe Blues, plays tonight and sporadically through the summer.

          Peter Tork and the Monkees celebrate 40 years of 'Head'
          By Shirley Halperin
          Hollywood Insider - EW.com
          November 12, 2008

          The Monkees' 1968 movie Head (original trailer below) may not have been much of a commercial success, but 40 years after its ill-fated theatrical release, the acid casualty-turned-cult classic will get a second shot at Hollywood glory with an anniversary screening and Q&A being held in Los Angeles tonight as part of American Cinematheque's "Mods and Rockers" series. Two of the band's members, Davy Jones and Peter Tork, will be in attendance at the famed Egyptian Theater, which happens to be across the street from what was once the Vogue Theater, where the movie premiered on Nov. 19, 1968, and drew the likes of Dennis Hopper, Robert Redford, and Carl Reiner. "I don't remember much about that night," Tork tells EW.com, "except that we were there. But I do know this: the audience for the movie on Wednesday is going to be bigger than the crowd we got in 1968."

          Despite their celebrity status at the time, and the fact that Jack Nicholson co-wrote and co-produced the film billed as The Monkees' answer to the Beatles' A Hard Day's Night, Head turned out to be a colossal dud. With no tangible plot, but rather a series of sometimes psychedelic, more often nonsensical out-there vignettes, the band's venture into movie-making would precipitate its ultimate demise. The irony, says Tork (who now writes an advice column for web-zine The Daily Panic), is that their intent was to break away from the pop image that ostensibly trapped them, but the movie only drove home the idea that there was no way out. "There was a bit of a contradiction between the plan and execution," he says. "I think if due consideration had been given to where we wanted The Monkees to go next, we would have not only had a better movie, but maybe even moved the career forward instead of stopping it dead in its tracks."

          No word on whether Nicholson will join in the festivities. Dolenz, jokes Tork, "had a prior commitment which he made as soon as he heard about this." Nesmith remains estranged from his former bandmates. More of our Q&A with Tork after the jump.

          ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When the idea for Head was bandied about, was it based on artistic expression, rebellion, or just an opportunity to cash in on the Monkees name?

          PETER TORK: It was an expression of where we were at the time. When we first talked about making a movie, the four of us agreed that we really didn't want to do a 90-minute episode of The Monkees. We wanted to go beyond sitcom situations, because growing up, Mickey and I had seen some of our favorite TV shows, like McHale's Navy and Dragnet, turn into awful movies.The fairest understanding of the movie was that it was [director and co-producer] Bob Rafelson's take on the Monkees phenomenon overall, without much of a comment or a conclusion. The gist of the movie is the Monkees remain trapped and it seems like they're never getting out of it, which was peculiar because the movie was an effort to get out of it. Other than that, it was a little surreal, some parts are extraordinarily funny, and a lot of that is Jack Nicholson's idea of what was funny.

          What was your history with Nicholson at that point?

          He didn't have much of a history with us. He'd come around the set for a while. He was fun and funny. He had a style and gestures. Mike adopted him completely. And then one day Bob said, "Jack's going to help make the movie." We were delighted because there was no mistaking Jack's power and capacity, intellectually and artistically. It was clear that here was a man who managed to make himself socially acceptable by bottling all of his insanity and putting it into useful channels. A very rare quality and one that's made him the superstar that he is. You couldn't help but feel that.

          There were plenty of psychedelic films being produced at that time to varying degrees of success, so why didn't Head stick?

          The Monkees ran into a brick wall and [Head] was part of that. And the fact that it was marketed as a head movie to the suburban kids and as a suburban, bubblegum movie to all the heads didn't help much either. It was a disaster in the making from some points of view. Commercially, surely.

          How is the relationship between the four of you now?

          Davy and Mickey and I talk when the occasion arises. Both of those guys did shows near where I live, and I joined them for a couple of numbers onstage. We had a great time and lovely conversation. Those are very funny guys. Michael does not figure in my cosmos anymore. I know nothing, I see nothing, I care nothing.

          From pop to blues, Peter Tork moves on
          By Doug Wallen
          metro Philadelphia
          August 28, 2008

          Best known as the cheeky guitarist for the 1960s chart-topping, TV-invading, bubblegum creation the Monkees, Peter Tork has been making music his entire adult life, from Greenwich Village folk to psychedelic pop. These days he leads Shoe Suede Blues, an outfit whose raucous originals and covers may surprise Monkees fans. But as Tork tells it, the blues were always a part of his musical DNA, even when he did not realize it.

          Your current band is more bluesy than people might expect.

          I've always been in that direction. It's only been a matter of being able to implement it. Back in the Monkees days, when Micky [Dolenz] sang, I'm a believer I showed him how to sing it as a blues note. It was always more shuffle, more soul, more blues [for me]. Im kind of slow; I didn't realize how much the blues meant to me until my middle years.

          You still do Monkees songs live, right?

          We do Last Train to Clarksville (and others). It's straight-ahead arrangement but a bluesy beat. And we do songs by Muddy Waters and Albert King; the real stuff.

          Before the Monkees you were a folk singer, and now you are fronting a blues band. Is it all of a piece to you?

          It is all of a piece but it rolls over and a different view is presented. I didn't go anywhere near the blues in my folky days, and I did singer-songwriter pop after the Monkees. But when this band started, we went straight to the blues book for all our jams. There was no 60s froth or bubblegum tunes. It was sort of given to me to do and it was liberation in so many ways.

          Instead of disowning the Monkees or leaning on them, you seem to have reconciled your past with the band.

          It was a struggle. I sought to divorce myself completely at the outset. I did no Monkees songs for years. But I get it - you come to a Peter Tork show and you want to hear some Monkees. [Shoe Suede Blues] is a very rigorous, on-your-toes kind of thing, and the Monkees thing is something for fans to hang their expectations on. After going from one extreme to the other, we thougt let us try the middle.

          New item added as of March 8, 2008:

          Ever Needed To Ask A Monkee For Advice? Who Hasn't?"
          Ask Peter Tork" Debuts Online at thedailypanic.com

          Former teen idol and current Shoe Suede Blues-man and solo artist Peter Tork is taking questions on a variety of topics from people all over the globe in his new column, "Ask Peter Tork". Find it exclusively online at http:// thedailypanic.com Have a question? Peter Tork has an answer. Think of it as having your own Monkee Uncle.

          Atlanta, Ga (PRWEB) February 25, 2008 ---Hey, hey he's...an advice columnist? Peter Tork, former member of the Monkees and long time heartthrob of women "of a certain age" hasn't stopped rocking - he's still got a blues band on the road and does Monkee-related appearances to the delight of old and new fans, but he's also taking his life experience and passing it on to readers who ask his advice on everything from boy trouble to boy bands.

          Along with Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith, as the TV and pop music darlings the Monkees, Peter Tork rocketed to world wide stardom in the 1960s and has periodically toured and worked with his former bandmates since then, including several very popular reunion tours and a TV special.

          As part of the motley and irresistible crew of writers at http://www.thedailypanic.com, Peter is the newly-minted advice columnist and author of "Ask Peter Tork".

          "It just seemed a natural addition for Peter, as far as I could see" says The Daily Panic editor Therra Cathryn Gwyn, a hurricane Katrina refugee who came up with the idea for her webzine while living in her RV, " Peter is incredibly patient. I have watched him sit and listen to people's problems -- at times people he barely knew -- for far longer than most of us would and in the end give them good, solid advice. Luckily for us, he's both book-smart and savvy in life experience. He's been a TV and music mega-star, had highs that would have killed some people, lows that would have killed others and a career that's lasted longer than some of his fans have been alive. He's a recovering alcoholic now sober for over 25 years, has oodles of relationship experience, he's got great, productive children, he lived through the 60s and is still rocking in his 60s. If that doesn't qualify him to dish out some advice, I don't know what does."

          "Ask Peter Tork" is not just advice for the lovelorn, however. Fans and the curious write in asking about everything from relationships to rock star quirks, from guy talk to guitars. And, surprising to some, nearly as many men as women write in.

          "Peter is one of the six pop stars in the world who are actually interested in something other than themselves," Gwyn jokes,"If your kids want to ask a rock star for advice, steer them away from Tommy Lee and towards Peter Tork."

          The Daily Panic.com - Ask Peter Tork

          Peter Tork at Boston Red Sox Rally - Monday October 1, 2007
          Photo by VickieVictoria � Flickr.com

          YouTube.com Videos of Peter Tork, James Lee Stanley and The Monkees
          Added 11/16/2006

          A fellow Monkees fan informed me of YouTube.com videos for Peter Tork, James Lee Stanley and The Monkees. What would we do without fellow fans? Thank you! By the way, I believe this fan was adopted by Mama Dolenz :)

          YouTube.com - Video results for Peter Tork

          YouTube.com - Video results for James Lee Stanley

          YouTube.com - Video results for The Monkees

          Attention Monkees fans, the spelling of "Monkeys" was not my doing. ;) - PTsgirl

          Peter Tork of the Monkeys arrives at the Long Island Music Hall of Fame
          Induction Ceremony on the evening of October 15, 2006
          (Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara)
          October 15, 2006

          I found this photo of Peter on the internet.
          I'm not sure how old the photo is, but wanted to place it on the web site.

          Peter Tork - Getty Images

          Found this quirky item on the internet.....

          Soup :: Pikes Peak US Superbike Images - Caption for photo:

          Little known fact: Hacking's PPIR fury was motivated by a bystander telling him Mike Nesmith was the most talented Monkee. 'It was Peter Tork, damnit!' he seethed.

          I played a simpleton. It was a character I had developed on the Greenwich Village stages as a way of protecting myself against the results of my bad jokes. "Of course you wouldn't like that joke because what kind of a fool I am." It just expanded from there.

          ~ Peter Tork ~

          Peter Halsten Thorkelson was born February 13, 1942, to John and Virginia Thorkelson in Washington, D.C. Because Peter's father was in the army, he grew up in various locations, being schooled at home (Detroit, Berlin Germany, Wisconsin, Connecticut). After completing service in the army, his father went back to Wisconsin to earn his degree in teaching. Peter and his family then settled in Connecticut where his father had his entire teaching career as a university professor.

          During this time, Peter was exposed to music by his parents. They listened to various types of music, but mostly classical. At an early age, he studied classical piano. He went on to master several instruments including acoustic and bass guitar, banjo, harmonica, harpsichord and organ. Eventually, he became interested in jazz and folk music. His love for classical music remains to this day, performing classical pieces at his concerts.

          The harpsichord was something I wanted to do because I am partly a classicist. Bach was my favorite composer, and the harpsichords were my thing. When Mike was in my dressing room, I was noodling around with the solo for "The Girl I Knew Somewhere," and I hit that discord on the beat at the end - I hadn't meant to do that. I said, "What was that?" Mike said, I heard it!" That was great - we were tickled to death to have this funny note on the record. On "Shades Of Gray," Mike wrote the horn and cello parts, sang them to me, and I notated them. I was also really pleased with the little piano introduction I wrote. We were just thrilled to death with that song.

          ~ Peter Tork ~

          In high school, Peter did musicals, amature theatricals, and piano recitals. He also did folk harmonizing with his friends. He became interested in rock n' roll for a brief time during his teen years. The Elvis Presley 1956 hit "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You" was the song that had Peter notice the current trend in music. Even though he took notice, his background in classical music kept him from doing a complete turn around.

          After high school, Peter was considering a music major at the school he was attending - Carlton College located in Northfield MN. He discovered that he did not have the attention or concentration span for such a major. Peter was involved in other activities at that time which included theatre, radio station DJ and music ensembles. When he was able to get enough people together, Peter did folk music performances.

          During the early 1960s, he became involved in the Greenwich Village music scene and began performing folk music (banjo and guitar) at the local clubs. He also played piano for The Buffalo Fish, Stephen Still's group. At this time, rock bands were forming in record numbers in the wake of the Beatle phenomenon. At the urging of Stephen Stills, Peter attended an open audition for The Monkees, a new television show starring four young actor/musicians.

          I was playing at the Golden Bear for Steve Stills and Ron Long, who were called The Buffalo Fish. Steve was my buddy from Greenwich Village; we knew each other because we were the kids who looked alike. When I was on the way out, Steve called me over and said, "Peter, I've just met this guy who is doing a TV show based on A Hard Day's Night. You should try out." I dismissed the idea, "Yeah, yeah." He said. "Peter, this is Steve. You really should go try out for this thing." "Oh, all right." So I got on the bus in Huntington Beach and schlepped all the way to Hollywood for the auditions. Up until then, I hadn't done anything except for a couple of hootenannies at the Troubadour, where, incidentally, I met Mike. I thought that because I knew Steve Stills, and he knew Bob Rafelson, that I was going to get special entree into the auditioning process. I walked in - "Take a seat, please." I waited like everybody else. Mike came in and said "Hello, Pete." One kid did get special treatment. Davy Jones walked through, like he owned the place. But I've grown to love him now. I do.

          ~ Peter Tork ~

          Peter Tork, Michael Nesmith, Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz became part of the teen idol craze during the 1960's. The Monkees television show continued for two seasons (1966-1968). During the second season, their television audience began to wander. The Monkees really started to fall apart after the release and failure of their movie HEAD. When he had the chance, Peter quit The Monkees. This was sometime after the taping of the 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee TV special for NBC.

          I was protecting myself by not becoming too involved, because I always feared that what I wanted would be taken away from me, so I didn't dare want anything. When Micky said, "You can't go back in the studio," that was the end for me of any hopes of having a real live group, which is what I wanted at the time. At that point, I had had it. I was utterly disappointed. So when I had the chance, I quit.

          ~ Peter Tork ~

          Even though Peter quit, he advanced as both a musician and a songwriter. His song "For Pete's Sake" was used during the second season closing credits. Other notable works that Peter has written or performed include "Come On In", "Lady's Baby", "Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again", "Seeger's Theme", "Tear The Top Right Off Of My Head", "Can You Dig It?", "Riu Chiu", "Words", "Shades Of Gray", "I Don't Think You Know Me", "Peter Patterson's Pet Pig Porky" and "Your Auntie Grizelda." When he re-united with the Monkees in 1987 for the Anniversary Tour, he conceived "Gettin' In" as a show opener, "to get into the hearts of the audience." For the 1997 Monkees World Tour, he performed his song "I Believe You" from the JUSTUS CD.

          I was raised in the Pete Seeger folk singing tradition of authenticity, integrity and honor. I thought bands played on their records. So when they told us to show up for our first recording session, I brought my guitar. They didn't want me to play. They said, "What are you complaining about? You're making money." I was distraught. I look back on it now, and it makes all kinds of sense that we didn't play. Obviously, we didn't know enough about pop music record production to be able to crank out two tunes a week for the show, as well as act in it. When we started filming, the TV episodes, it took us five twelve-hour days per week. We'd walk out of those things with our eyes crossed, and we were in no condition to be making records. We finally did make our Headquarters album. We were doing forty to fifty and sometimes seventy takes apiece on the basic tracks. I didn't realize beforehand, but we weren't ready. But I was upset that I wasn't playing on the tracks on the first album. I did play fourth guitar on the two sessions that Mike produced. So that's me on "Papa Gene's Blues." You can't hear me, but I'm in there; four guitars all playing the same thing.

          ~ Peter Tork ~

          Peter Tork Biography - Page 2.
          Peter Tork - IMDb (Internet Movie Database)
          Peter Tork Update
          Peter Tork Retro Photos
          Peter and James Concert Photos
          Peter Tork Official Web Site
          Shoe Suede Blues Web Site
          James Lee Stanley Web Site
          PTsgirl Purple Haze - About The Monkees
          Monkees Related Articles On The Net
          Monkees Related Items
          Monkees Related Sites
          What Kind Of Girl Likes The Monkees?
          Monkees Recipes
          Special Recipes

          PTsgirl Shoe Suede Blues Photos - Club 66

          Monkees 2001 Concert Tour Photos - Courtesy of SheLovesTork

          The flowers and earth graphic above are from Millan.net

          Thank you to ford-dad for taking the time to create the Peter graphic below and the Monkees graphics (mobile and group) located on my web pages.

          PTsgirl Purple Haze - Peter Tork/Monkees

          If you are interested, I have created various web pages. Just click on the image below. The pages include British actor Martin Freeman, The Hobbit (upcoming movie 2012 and 2013), Kiefer Sutherland, The Office - British and U.S., NASCAR and NHL.

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