You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
Peter Tork, one of the four members of the made-for-TV-turned-chart-topping-pop-sensations the Monkees, has died. He was 77.
The Washington, D.C., native continued to tour after that, including a 2014 Monkees concert at the 1,300-seat Palace Theatre in Greensburg, for which Tork told readers of The Times they could count on a performance that was more than a novelty or oldies act.
"We're truly a pop and rock show. ... We get tough," Tork, a one-time Greenwich Village folk artist, said. "This is not all froth and giggles. It's serious stuff here. We're not 25 anymore -- we're not even 45 -- but we're making good music from, in my opinion, one of the top songbooks of all time."
The Monkees were assembled by TV producers to be a "prefab" knockoff of the Beatles. Tork, the bassist, keyboardist and oldest group member, was viewed as a charmingly goofy, Ringo Starr type.
Airing from 1966-68 on NBC, "The Monkees" sitcom helped spark the concept of music videos, as the group went on to achieve such global hits as ""Daydream Believer," "Last Train to Clarksville," "Pleasant Valley Sunday" and the Neil Diamond-penned "I'm a Believer."
Along the way, a misconception arose that they weren't "real" musicians.
The Monkees skewered that belief in their July 9, 1986, show at Pittsburgh's Civic Arena -- part of a 20th-anniversary tour -- which began with the band on stage pretending to play a song, before the music got "stuck" like a record that kept skipping. Tork and bandmates Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz pretended to panic, before igniting a big stick of dynamite. Boom! -- the skipping music stopped, and the Monkees got to the business of playing a live concert, starting with "Last Train to Clarksville." It was one of those special nights where the arena's retractable dome was opened.
Jones died in 2012, though Tork and Dolenz, reunited with fourth Monkees member Michael Nesmith, played several more tours together after that.
In his interview with The Times, Tork said fans regularly told him "The Monkees" TV show meant more than just silly fun and fresh tunes.
"The thing I hear them say is the TV show was their half-hour respite from the six-day and 23 1/2-hour-per-week hell they were in," Tork said. "That says to me we stood for something."
Those were contentious times of cultural revolution and the Vietnam War -- "a war we never should have joined," Tork recalled with anger surfacing in his voice. "We had no business being there."
There were subtle messages tucked into "The Monkees" episodes that typically found the youthful foursome climbing out from a madcap predicament without any help from older adults, such as music industry professionals or business people often depicted as shady, greedy or crooked.
"While the adults were off doing their own thing, we were young adults doing OK," Tork said. "That's what 'The Monkees' signifies. We didn't have to fight; we could be pleasant and have fun and still get things done."
Like their iconic theme song said: "We're just tryin' to be friendly/Come and watch us sing and play/We're the young generation/And we've got something to say."
Tork still had something to sing, play and say, even as he reached septuagenarian status.
"For me, it's still a big thrill because, you know, I'm still a kid at heart," Tork said in his 2014 interview.