As told to Rochelle Reed by one of Peter’s close friends
I’m a musician with a group I’m certain you’d know but I can’t tell you who (mainly because I wouldn’t want everyone in Hollywood to know that I’m going to tell you this, and Hollywood can be a very small town).
What I’m going to relate has to be sort of a secret between you and me. The reason is that I’m going to tell you what it is like to visit Peter as an invited guest—someone who he has called and asked, in his mellow voice, “Would you like to come up to my pad?”
I first visited Peter when he was dating a girl I’ve known for a long time (and I won’t tell you her name either!). I don’t live too far from Peter—right down the hill, in fact. My friend called up one evening and said “Hey, how would you like to visit Peter Tork?” I shouted “Groovy!” hung up the phone, raced for my gold cords and had one leg in, one leg out when the telephone rang again.
Leaping across the room like a participant in a gunny sack race, I sort of slammed into the phone and managed a breathless “Hello?” It was Peter. “Hey man, what did you do, just round the block?” he asked, laughing. I replied something about having a big apartment and a short telephone cord. Then he asked, “How would you like to come up to my pad?”
“Funny thing,” I said, “I was just headed up that way.”
So there I was, driving up the hill to Peter’s place. It’s a typical Hollywood Hills home—kind of a big concrete crackerbox with lots of picture windows.
The view from Peter’s living room window is spectacular—at night you can see all over Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles. If it’s really clear, and it was that night, you can see the freeways—a spectacular sight. I’d say that Peter has his own natural light show.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Peter opened the door when I knocked and greeted me with “Hi! Come on in, man. Glad you could come. Have a seat.”
I sat down on the sectional in the living room. The sofa is huge and sort of winds itself around an absolutely outasite square table which looks as though it might be made of teakwood. Whatever it is, I was really awed by it.
The next thing I noticed, and we discussed them for awhile, was Peter’s stereo speakers. He has two gigantic Voice Of The Theatre speakers like the ones behind the stage at movie houses. He uses them for his stereo and wow! what a sound.
Sat on floor
I didn’t sit long on the couch because everyone else was sitting on pillows on the floor. I had begun to feel uncomfortable sitting two feet higher than the rest of Peter’s friends so I grabbed a large blue pillow and sprawled out on the floor.
There were about five or six of us there and we were really grooving on the music. Steve Stills of the Buffalo Springfield was sitting next to me and every time Jimi Hendrix hit another note, Steve looked like he felt it all the way down to his toes. I was concentrating pretty intently on Jimi’s music, too, as I’m a bass player.
We played the album several times and then switched to Beatles and Stones and threw in a few tracks by Ravi Shankar. Peter kept saying how impressed he had been with both Shankar and Hendrix at the Pop Festival and how much he liked working with Jimi when he was on the Monkee tour.
Perhaps I ought to tell you what Peter was wearing, though I’m not always too observant about what other guys have on. Now show me a girl in a mini-skirt and… well.
Peter hadn’t been filming for about a week and he’d let his beard grow out a little. He had on a sarape—a colorful poncho—and also wore jeans and sandals. “Sandals when it’s cold?” you’re probably asking if you live in the East (I’m from Philadelphia—great place but it can get too cold for sandals). Well, it’s warm in California and besides, Peter’s house has wall-to-wall carpeting and a great heater.
Peter’s hair was its usual length but uncombed. I don’t think he meant not to comb his hair. I just think he forgot. When he’s home a lot, he keeps very busy and I don’t think he feels that combing his hair is important—like maybe it’s a waste of time since no one is going to see him anyway.
Oh yeah… Peter and I talked about clothes and hair and stuff for awhile. He liked my boots and wanted to know where I got them. Then he said he really dug my sideburns, which are big and heavy. And I said I really dug his sarape.
Lots of books
Anyway, I noticed that Peter has quite a few books and records in his house. I remember someone once telling me that he had more books than records, but now the records far outnumber the books. He has an extensive collection—everything from modern LPs to those hard-to-get kind and a lot of records cut by his friends.
After listening to so much music, we all discovered we were terribly hungry. Peter pulled out a $20 bill and sent some of us down to the Hollywood Ranch Market to get groceries. What a feast! Man, we brought back shrimp and crab and almonds—shopping bags full—and cooked the entire contents.
It was sort of funny, really. I think Peter actually wanted to go to the store himself but even in Hollywood in the late evening, he was afraid to go out. He can’t, I guess, because he’s so recognizable. He has a thing about going out—he’s afraid he’ll cause too much trouble if he steps out onto the street.
After we ate, we sat around and talked until late into the night. Peter has a large following of people who are with him almost all the time. They treat him a bit like a preacher or even a mystic. I mean, it isn’t a case where Peter says “Jump!” and they ask, “How high?” It’s just that they follow Peter’s advice and heavily weigh his opinions on just about everything—life, music, politics, show business.
In a way, you could say that Peter is still living in the Village. I spent some time in Greenwich Village myself, and people there act much as Peter does, even though he’s encamped in the Hollywood Hills.
But finally it got to be pretty late and we’d said all we had to say. Everyone knew it was time to split. Peter said goodbye to us and also gave a short bow.
As I was going out, I passed by Peter’s garage and noticed he had a rather old antique wooden Indian sitting in there, looking very mystical in the dark.
Now that I think about it, that Indian is sort of like Peter. Quiet, mystical, and looking like he’d really like to go out on the town.