Davy Jones gave us the first inkling that Peter Tork might be leaving the Monkees in an interview while the Monkees were taping their first television special. At that time Davy said Peter would be doing things on his own, but that he might occasionally work with Davy, Micky and Mike.
However, when the Monkees taped the “Hollywood Squares” show WITHOUT Peter, we were pretty sure he was out for good, and it didn’t take us long to find out why. In this Tiger Beat exclusive interview, Peter reveals all his reasons for quitting one of the most successful groups in pop history:
Q. Did you think about leaving the Monkees for a long time?
A. I wanted to leave the group way back when the first season ended, but they convinced me not to. I didn’t care about all the things that were happening, all the acclaim. I hated the work. It was tough work and I didn’t like it. I wanted to record all my life.
Also, the pressure was awful. We were working in an incredibly new environment. Half of the crew on the show was young and had very little experience at that level of work. Many of them were getting their first big break.
Actually, after the TV show was cancelled it was easier for me. Doing the TV show was the worst. Then came the movie, and I couldn’t forego the movie, so I did the movie. You know there were moments here and there—lots of good, funny stuff happening throughout—but the only time that I was really happy was when we were recording the “Headquarters” album.
Q. Was that because you did it all yourselves?
A. We did it all together. It was all a happening thing.
Q. What about the live concerts, didn’t you like those times?
A. The concerts were fun, but during the concert tours you are removed from your friends, except for the guys. And even when we did take a few friends along it was only a mild relief. This last tour wasn’t fun because I felt hideously under-rehearsed. I was constantly pushing for rehearsals and they were constantly saying well, like later. And then once in a while it would be them wanting to rehearse and me saying later. We couldn’t get together. Also, we didn’t play any new music this last concert tour. It was all old tunes, nothing from our newer albums and it was a bore.
Q. Do you want to record music your fans will like, or doesn’t that matter?
A. I hope the fans remain. I mean, I know that there are some people who are going to say, “Oh, Peter, what are you going this route for?” And “Oh, Peter, you quit when the going was easy.” And “Oh, Peter you just quit.” Then I’ll come out with my record and some will say, “Oh, his music isn’t anything like it was when he was with the Monkees,” and “It’s no good,” and some will say, “It’s better,” and they’re welcome to say whatever they want. I hope that there are people who’ll like the music because I hope to make my living with it and I hope that there’ll be people who’ll be buying the records so I’ll go on making my living at it.
Q. Do you have an idea of what you want to do in the future?
A. Yes, I’d like to go on singing and producing, playing music. I was trying to get a group together which included my brother Nick, but it didn’t work out.
Q. Are there any plans other than recording? Any acting?
A. I don’t like acting, but I may do it anyway. I mean the thing about film work is that it is so on again, off again. They say, “turn on, act up, keep happy, charge, generate,” then just as quickly, “turn off, shut up, keep quiet, while everybody else does their work.”
Q. It appears that your life is quite routine now. Is that right?
A. Oh, yes, it is routine and I’m very happy with it. I usually wake up about nine or eleven, get up, eat breakfast, read the newspapers, drink coffee, go out, come back in the evening, watch the news, eat dinner and go to bed. Going out means whatever is handy—sometimes I go over to the Raybert office and hang out with Bert for awhile. Sometimes I go… anywhere, no telling. Right now I’m working with my friend Bobby Hammer on a film. I’m going to deliver a lecture on the generation gap and I’m going to show a film just to keep them interested.
Q. How did the other Monkees react when you told them you were leaving?
A. What I told them was, “Gentlemen, I’m in negotiations to resign from the group.” I think they suspected I was going to be leaving and they went, “Okay, well, we’d better get to work.” We did the Special and the last day of the Special they gave me this little testimonial, memorial watch. I haven’t seen them since the Special taping except I went by Micky’s place yesterday. I caught them on the “Hollywood Squares” and I thought they were alright.
Q. Were you pleased with the results of the Special?
A. Yes, I think the Special will be dynamite!
Q. Will people find your music very different than on the Monkee albums?
A. Yes. “Head” has two songs which I wrote for the movie. Those represent where I was at the time and my music is only changing at a regular rate from then.
Q. Will you use the name Peter Tork or Peter Thorkelson?
A. I don’t know, that’s a good question. I was thinking I’d go out as Peter Thorkelson. But that’s a little tough because it’s a heavy mouthful. It’s long and it occupies a lot of space. Maybe I’ll just keep Peter Tork.
There are now three Monkees—Davy, Micky and Mike. What are their future plans, separately and together? To find out, turn to page 30 to where you’ll find an exclusive interview with Davy Jones!