Peter’s Secret Past

  • Peter Tork
  • Golden Bear
    Down these eight steps you can still find the sign of “Welcome” that greeted Peter when he was living and working at The Golden Bear.
  • Golden Bear
    Looking back toward the stairway from main part of Peter’s “living room”. It might not be the coziest den, but it had a low ceiling, and heat in the overhead steam pipes.
  • Golden Bear
    Here is the sink where Peter sudsed thousands of tons of dirty dishes. He probably made a musical task of it by keeping time to music drifting in from restaurant above.
  • Peter Tork
  • Golden Bear
    Many is the time Peter must have gazed at the oil pump (above) and wished he had the money it earned. Now, he could buy the whole well.
  • Golden Bear
    Still a jolly meeting place to all striving musicians is The Golden Bear (at left). It is a familiar landmark in Huntington Beach, Cal.
  • Peter Tork

It’s not easy to wonder where you will sleep, or, if you will eat. Peter went through some rough times before he reached his goal. But he didn’t give up when times were hard. He just dug in and kept learning.

When you look at the Monkees today it’s easy to think that they’ve always been the funny, carefree guys you see every week on TV. But there were lots of times before they got together that weren’t so funny. There were times when they didn’t have money or a place to sleep or something to eat. There were times when they weren’t sure they were ever going to achieve the goals they had set for themselves.

Peter had these times just like the other Monkees did. Peter started out wanting to be a very good folk singer. He knew that folk singers seldom made much money, but it was what he wanted to do.

Peter moves west

He moved to Greenwich Village in New York City, a place where there were lots of folk singers. He met lots of people and he learned a lot from them, but he didn’t get many jobs because there weren’t too many jobs to be had. So Peter moved West, hoping to earn enough money to keep working at his dream of being a great folk singer.

Peter’s first job

He found there wasn’t much work in California, either. So, in order to keep learning, he decided to take any job he could get. Whether it was singing or not, he made up his mind to stay close to the folk scene, so he went to the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach, a well known folk club. The only job they had open was that of dishwasher, but Peter took it anyway. He figured that somehow he would get the chance to do more than wash dishes.

Peter didn’t dig dirty dishes too much, but it was a groovy job anyway. He could see all the shows (or at least hear them from the kitchen sink), and he could learn from the people on stage (when he wasn’t working). He got to take his meals in the kitchen and, best of all, the manager said he could live in the basement.

His own oil well

The basement was just a basement, with a few unique features. Other people had lived there before him and they’d painted the walls with all sorts of fancy artwork. It was sort of groovy to wake up and see a big “WELCOME” right in front of your eyes. And, this basement had its own oil well! It wasn’t a big well, but it did have oil in it and it was right in the middle of his “living room”!

He was washing dishes when his friend, Steve Stills, told him about the Monkee auditions. He went down and tried out but they didn’t decide immediately, so he went back to washing dishes at the Golden Bear. Then, he found out he’d been selected—he was now a Monkee!

Back to visit

Peter is very, very fond of the Golden Bear even today. There were lots of times he’ll always remember, and he made many friends that he’ll never forget. Peter often goes back to see the shows. Sometimes he even goes back to the kitchen just to look at the place he once called “home.”

If you’re ever in Southern California, stop by the Golden Bear to see the shows that Peter loves so much. And, you might even be lucky enough to pick a night when Peter’s come back to visit—for it’s one of his very favorite places.

Magazine: Fave
Editor: Mary Jo Clements
Volume: 1
Issue: 4
Publisher: Laufer Publishing Co.
Pages: 10, 12