The Peter Tork 1969/1970 Thread

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Sunset Sam, Jul 12, 2010.

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  1. Sunset Sam

    Sunset Sam Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Irvington, IN
    So I got to thinking...and piecing together the events of 1969 in my head...coming to a very baffling question that I cannot easily answer.

    Why did Peter Tork fall off the face of the earth after he quit The Monkees in 1968?

    He seemingly had tons of street cred with the heavies of the day.....he came up through Greenwich Village with the likes of the Mamas and Papas/Mugwumps, Stephen Stills, et. al. He was a very well accomplished musician, as he could both read it and play it by ear, and was advanced (if not proficient) in piano and guitar/bass/banjo. He didn't write much, but wrote the famous closing theme for the TV show and had two tracks (out of six) on the last Monkees album he was a part of. He also was prominently featured as the harpsichord soloist on the first Monkees-played hit ("The Girl I Knew Somewhere") and was the pianist on their 2nd biggest hit, "Daydream Believer"....and the piano pretty much defined that tune. He wrote the piano parts to "Daydream" and "Shades of Gray".

    For all intents and purposes, he was on a serious roll from 1967 through 1968. Around this time you had all kinds of "serious" bands starting up using the best players of bands going defunct (or guys that just wanted out of their existing band). Crosby, Stills & Nash. Stills/Bloomfield/Kooper. Poco. Flying Burrito Brothers . Hot Tuna. Just a few off the top of my head.

    So how is it that Tork didn't wind up ANYwhere, music-wise? Sounds like he was well-liked among all the folks around Laurel Canyon, letting them share in his wealth, hanging out at his house, using his stuff, etc.....many influential friends, including Janis Joplin, George Harrison, Stephen Stills, Mama Cass, Jimi Hendrix....

    Easy answer would be drugs/alcohol....but heck, that didn't keep the Gram Parsons of the world in the shadows. Theories?
     
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  2. Sunset Sam

    Sunset Sam Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Irvington, IN
    Peter with his friends....Hendrix, Stills, Cass, Joplin, Harrison....
     

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  3. ManFromCouv

    ManFromCouv Employee #3541

    The first thing that comes to mind is that having a Monkee in your band was not good for business...a credibility hit.
     
  4. Greg1954

    Greg1954 New Member

    Location:
    .
    There's a picture somewhere of a bearded long haired Tork hanging out with Lowell George.
     
  5. peteham

    peteham Forum Resident

    Location:
    Simcoe County
    I'm only speculating, but I suspect, beyond the credibility issues, since he wasn't particularly a singer or a prolific composer he struggled, and when the tapes of his band "Release" were passed on, his confidence took a real hit. He was also the least careful with his money which may have been a distraction.
     
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  6. readr

    readr Forum Resident

    Fatigue

    I think he was, simply, physically and mentally exhausted. The same thing kept Micky off the grid in 1971 -- though, Micky got back on the horse soon after.
     
  7. white wolf

    white wolf Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    I remember hearing that he had quite a drinking problem. Maybe that was why.
     
  8. mr.schneider

    mr.schneider Active Member

    Location:
    N. Beechwood Dr.
    Lack of focus. Moderators, please close this thread- question answered.



    ;)

    Didn't stop Jones. Still doesn't.
    *hic*
    You mean... as you tear the top off your head?
     
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  9. mr.schneider

    mr.schneider Active Member

    Location:
    N. Beechwood Dr.
    It's amazing how society and 'the fringe' changed so drastically in two short years.
     

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  10. action pact

    action pact Forum Resident

    I think that drugs - and the resulting lack of creative and business focus - was the number one reason. (Cue up Take #3096 of "Lady's Baby.") He probably thought the party would continue even after he left the Monkees project.

    Also, he had only a very few lead vocals and writing credits on the Monkees' records, and he wasn't really well-known for his instrumental abilities. (Remember, the myth that they couldn't play was still very much entrenched in 1969.)

    In 1969, he was best known as the 'dummy' of the Monkees.

    Even Nesmith, with his clearly enormous songwriting talent, had to work hard to get out from under the shadow of the Monkees' 'plastic' image.
     
  11. intv7

    intv7 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston, MA, USA
    In addition to everything already mentioned in the thread, wasn't Peter a massive pot smoker at the time? It's no secret that he had a pretty bad drug problem in the '70s. I can only assume he was more interested in partying than getting serious about a music career in '69.
     
  12. mr.schneider

    mr.schneider Active Member

    Location:
    N. Beechwood Dr.
    Sunset Sam's question asks if even with his musician friends in the industry why didn't he surface elsewhere. It was very well known within the industry and within his circle of friends that Peter was very proficient player on several different instruments. Michael corrects an interviewer in an early 70's interview, the interviewer says something to the affect that Michael was the talented Monkee, Michael interjects with "Now hold on, Peter is the talent. Always was. He could play circles around me. I just happened to be the one that surfaced."

    So this rumor "(Remember, the myth that they couldn't play was still very much entrenched in 1969.)" was very much word on the street and NOT gospel to those that Peter surrounded himself with or the opinion of anyone in the industry.
     
  13. bRETT

    bRETT Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston MA
    The Monkees themselves didn't get a lot of respect for the more groundbreaking stuff they did; so Peter would have hard time with the non-teenybop audience he wanted. As noted, even Nesmith wasn't getting his country music across to people who were buying Byrds albums. Peter could probably have done well as an instrumental session guy, but it didn't seem like he wanted to go down that road.

    The only people I can think of that went from a "bubblegum" to "underground" image are Flo & Eddie, just because they had the guts to sign up with Zappa.
     
  14. action pact

    action pact Forum Resident

    As bRETT pointed out, Peter didn't quit the Monkees to become a sideman or session player. He was under the self-deluded idea that he was an ARTISTE. How else does one explain the hundreds of studio hours spent on "Lady's Baby?" Unfortunately for him, he didn't really have the goods to deliver.
     
  15. mr.schneider

    mr.schneider Active Member

    Location:
    N. Beechwood Dr.
    I don't think that was it at all. As an artiste you take yourself too seriously, Peter never has. If he had, he'd have had some music out somewhere. There were tons of independent labels and vanity labels that would have picked Peter up in a second. I just think it was just 'lack of focus'. He needed someone to nudge him, like Chip Douglas. On his own, he had issues with his follow-thru.

    Lady's Baby is an example of Pete being a perfectionist- working on something until you get it right for your own ears. Had Chip been there, he could have helped Pete make his tune 'perfect' (for what that's worth) and nudged him along to the next tune/project.

    Curiously there are other examples of this where Peter didn't dick around with a tune as much. Long Title and Can You Dig It? Apparently Peter had better focus on these, however he did tinker with Long Title quite a bit. Several versions of that and lots of overdubs.

    So artiste and perfectionist... two different things.
    Artiste comes with attitude while perfectionists exude frustration.
    I still say focus & perfectionism. :)
     
  16. Joel1963

    Joel1963 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Montreal
    Very generous of Mike to say so...
     
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  17. Slokes

    Slokes Cruel But Fair

    Location:
    Greenwich, CT USA
    Backing this point up is something Tork himself said in a recent video I saw on YouTube [link is here, relevant section begins 1:10 in], where he talks about this very failing as something he most dislikes about himself. ADD, he says his sister calls it.
     
  18. H-Man

    H-Man Member

    Location:
    Boston
    pot.. I used to know his old roomie
     
  19. Alan T

    Alan T Forum Resident

    Location:
    Phoenix
    There was nothing worth less than a used Monkee in 1969/1970.

    After three years of runaway success, it was over.
     
  20. mr_mjb1960

    mr_mjb1960 I'm a Tarrytowner 'Til I die!

    He recorded with his then-new group Release a little later after he'd left The Monkees in 1970,but,Atlantic lost the Masters to this Lp later,so,sadly,there is no surviving documents of this group that remains.
     
  21. Sunset Sam

    Sunset Sam Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Irvington, IN
    If I remember correctly, Release was never signed to any label and never recorded any proper demos. The Atlantic LP thingy was just a myth....same with the myth that Peter recorded tracks at Nesmith's Countryside ranch in '73. Both parties have dismissed that as false.

    I don't know about the whole "nobody wants a Monkee" circa 69/70 thing. Fact is, they still made money for their label. And while Bobby Sherman, Sajid Khan, Desi Arnaz Jr and the like started taking up more cover-page and pinup real estate in the teen mags, the Monkees did continue to sell records. The very fact that Nesmith could leave in 1970 and have two reasonably big hits in less than a year's time (in a completely different genre, no less) at least tells me there was some value in being an ex-Monkee. I know even Nesmith himself talks bad about it and says it was hard being an ex-Monkee....but lets face it....being an ex-Monkee is what got him the deal with RCA in the first place....and being an ex-Monkee is what got some of the DJs to spin "Joanne".....and being the first ex-Monkee with a solo disc is likely what got many of the old Monkees fans to purchase "Joanne" and "Magnetic South".

    You guys bring up some very good points, including the references to "Lady's Baby" as an example of his lack of focus and/or overwhelming attention to detail that resulted in diminishing returns in the studio (or as Schneidy put it....perfectionism).

    Perhaps he really did want a break....but I still find it hard to believe that there wasn't at least some conversation of there being a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Tork or some such collaboration.
     
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  22. Sunset Sam

    Sunset Sam Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Irvington, IN
    It's funny...as I re-read all these posts, yet another really perplexing thing comes to mind as it relates to Nesmith. The guy was a solid songwriter, writing several million-sellers and literally was a poet that, in his own words, could "pull (songs) out of hat". He went from Monkee to solo artist that churned out 6 solo albums in 3 years time, all filled with consistently first-rate material. Then he just completely petered out, no pun intended. Three more albums over the next 6 years, then no real music output between 79 and 92 other than a few songs for his video projects. How does one just turn off a fountain of brilliance like that? "Tropical Campfires" was proof that he still had "it". It was an album equal in brilliance to his RCA work.

    But then, I suppose that is topic for another thread.......

    These Monkees are quite the inspiration for intellectual (?) queries, no?
     
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  23. cdice

    cdice New Member

    Location:
    U.S.
    Two summers ago, when I saw Peter Tork in concert, I asked him about the band [Release] and if they had recorded anything, and why hasn't anything become available, etc. etc. He said there were no official studio recordings, but they did record some demos, "...which I may have stored away in a cardboard box somewhere in my [Connecticut] house, but I don't have time to look for it." I don't know anything about the rumored Atlantic LP, and I seriously doubt that anything like that ever existed. Probably just a rumor. But I do think Peter does have some reel-to-reel demos hidden away, and just doesn't think they're worthy to dig for. Just an opinion after taking to him about it. As far as vanishing off the face of the earth after 1968-69, didn't he get arrested in Texas for marijuana possession and actually spend some jail time there? He also, by his own admission, had a real drinking problem. He used to think the reason he had "the shakes" all the time was because he was drinking too much coffee; then he realized most people don't get up at 7 in the morning and pop open a can of beer.
     
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  24. yellowballoon

    yellowballoon Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maine
    Turn off the fountain of brilliance and then forget to turn it on again for "Rays"! :shake:
     
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  25. Sunset Sam

    Sunset Sam Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Irvington, IN
    I refuse to acknowledge "Rays". A bastard child of the catalog!!!! Even "Wichita Train Whistle" is ashamed!
     
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