Making his claim to fame as the guitarist for the Monkees, Peter Tork became a household name during the 1960s. His participation in the garage band not only led to musical success, but also to an acting career.
Peter Tork was born Peter Halsten Thorkelston to John and Virginia Thorkelston in Washington, D.C. He became proficient as a banjo and guitar player at an early age. After being schooled at home, Tork eventually left to become part of the folk scene of Greenwich Village in New York City, where he became a popular figure in the early '60s. He played with members of the soon-to-be Lovin' Spoonful and dated Cass Elliot from the Mamas and the Papas.
His luck and money wore out by the mid-'60s, so Tork decided to head to Los Angeles, where he would eventually audition for the part of the guitarist for the Monkees; he also became known as the clown of the group. Along with Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork became one of the heartthrobs of the '60s and '70s. The show continued for two seasons but eventually fizzled out; after its demise, the group stayed together for a movie and a couple more albums. The group finally went their separate ways in 1971, some pursuing solo careers.
During his Monkee days, Tork made tremendous strides as both a musician and a songwriter. His song "For Pete's Sake" was used during the second season credits, and he also wrote some vocals for several of the group's albums, including the songs "Auntie Grizelda" and "Shades of Gray." It was also during his Monkee career that the list of musical instruments that he could play grew to include banjo, guitar, bass, piano, organ and keyboards.
In 1994, Peter Tork used his talents to produce his own solo album, Stranger Things Have Happened. He released the album Two Man Band with James Lee Stanley in 1996. Once Again followed in early 2001.
Tork's longevity as a Monkee still lands him many a role on sitcoms and occasional cameo roles in movies. He played himself in the 1995 film The Brady Bunch Movie. Peter Tork has also been a teacher and is a recovering alcoholic. He has devoted some of his time helping others with their battles over substance abuse. ~ Kim Summers