Monkees Bassist Peter Tork Dies at 77

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Peter Tork

"Please know that Peter was extremely appreciative of you, his Torkees, and one of his deepest joys was to be out in front of you, playing his music, and seeing you enjoy what he had to share," a post on the musician's Facebook page read. "We send blessings and thoughts of comfort to you all, with much gratitude."

Peter Tork, the lovable, mop-topped former bassist and singer in The Monkees, died Thursday. He was 77.

The news was confirmed by Tork's official Facebook page, which paid homage to the actor/singer who made his name as a member of the made-for-TV band that became the American answer to The Beatles in the mid-1960s. A cause of death was not available at press time. Tork's sister, Anne Thorkelson, reportedly confirmed the news to The Washington Post.

"It is with beyond-heavy and broken hearts that we share the devastating news that our friend, mentor, teacher, and amazing soul, Peter Tork, has passed from this world," read the post from the group of fans, friends and family that maintained the Tork FB page on the singer's behalf. "Please know that Peter was extremely appreciative of you, his Torkees, and one of his deepest joys was to be out in front of you, playing his music, and seeing you enjoy what he had to share. We send blessings and thoughts of comfort to you all, with much gratitude."

Peter Halsten Thorkelson was born Feb. 13, 1942, in Washington, D.C., and after showing early promise as a multi-instrumentalist, he moved to New York after college, where he became enmeshed in the city's burgeoning Greenwich Village folk scene in the early '60s. It was there that he befriended fellow folk singer Stephen Stills, who passed along a tip to his pal about a new musical variety show that was being developed that he might be interested in.

The show created by producers/writers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider was intended to capitalize on the popularity of the Beatles' A Hard Day's Night — reviving an idea that Rafelson had tried unsuccessfully to pitch around several years earlier — by casting musicians to play the members of a fictitious band. Performing alongside former British child star Davy Jones, inscrutable guitarist Mike Nesmith and adorably daffy drummer Micky Dolenz, Tork appeared on the show during its two-year (1966-68) run, then performed live with the group through 1971 and on various reunion tours afterwards.

The group chafed at not being able to perform or write their own songs for the sitcom despite their musical backgrounds, leading to their dissolution several years after the show was canceled. Tork performed on a 1986 20th reunion anniversary tour and an accompanying album, Then and Now, as well as on a 1987 album, Pool It! He also released a solo album, Cambria Hotel, in 2007 and performed with his Shoe Suede Blues project throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.

Monkees singer/guitarist Nesmith wrote Thursday, "Just got the news that Peter died. I am heartbroken." 

This story first appeared on Billboard.com.