As depicted on the 1960s TV show, Tork played the role of the goofy, "dumb" Monkee, with his head in the clouds—the Harpo Marx of the gang. Behind the scenes, Tork was a thoughtful, folk-trained musician who embraced the '60s counterculture movement, and often felt confined by his role as a "pre-fab" teenybopper idol.
He earned his first songwriting credit with Headquarters' "For Pete's Sake," which became the closing theme to the second season of The Monkees TV show. Tork's other major Monkees contributions came on the soundtrack to their 1968 movie Head, for which Took wrote the songs "Can You Dig It?" and "Do I Have to Do This All Over Again?"
Tork was the first member to leave the group, departing at the end of 1968 following work on a bizarre Monkees television special, 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee, although he participated in the band's numerous reunions over the years, most recently for their 50th anniversary tour in 2016. Since the Monkees' heyday, Tork worked as a teacher and coach, and briefly spent time in an Oklahoma prison for possession of hashish in 1972. He always kept one foot in the music world, though, recording sessions for punk/new wave label Sire Records in the early '80s and revisiting his Greenwich Village folk-music roots on a series of recordings through the '90s and '00s.
Although Tork auditioned for the Monkees as a working musician, his gift for comedy became quickly apparent in front of the camera. But music remained his greatest passion. Here's "Shades of Gray," from the Headquarters album, which features Tork's finest recorded vocal performance, a duet with fellow Monkee Davy Jones (who passed away in 2012). That's also Tork playing the song's central piano figure.
Rest in peace, Peter.