Eliot Stein Interviews Peter Tork of The Monkees

(C)Eliot Stein

 

ELIOT STEIN- It's the year 2050 and a college is teaching a class on American Pop Music... 1960's...Describe The Monkees in just a few sentences:

(PETER TORK) The Monkees will be a footnote... we will be listed among the top sellers..our musical influence was not that outstanding...we weren't the Beatles... If the course was on TV...we probably wouldn't figure that large... however if the course was on Pop Phenomena...then we would come up big!

 

ELIOT STEIN- The auditions were held when?

(PETER TORK) In August of 1965.

 

ELIOT STEIN- How did you hear about it?

(PETER TORK) Stephen Stills told me about the auditions....we were friends; we were not living together as a rumor exists... we knew each other from Greenwich Village.

 

ELIOT STEIN- Did Steven try out as well?

(PETER TORK) He met Bob Rafelson socially...and was told that he was not videogenic... that his hair and teeth was wrong...did he know anybody whose hair and teeth were right--and that was me!

 

ELIOT STEIN- Is it true that Charles Manson tried out for the Monkees?

(PETER TORK) No, it is not true.

 

ELIOT STEIN- How did the producer describe the concept of the show to you when you were selected?

(PETER TORK) Stephen had already told me the concept...it would be "A Hard Day's Night."

 

ELIOT STEIN- Do you believe you were selected for musical ability, acting ability, looks. etc?

(PETER TORK) None of the above... The main 3 reasons I was selected: I did my scene (screen test scene) perfectly on the first try... the "Dummy" character I created on the screen...was created by ME... and they said...we will give you the part if you don't mind playing the character!

 

ELIOT STEIN- What was it like touring with Hendrix?

(PETER TORK) Touring with him was wonderful... he was the greatest pop/rock musician of his day!!! he was a great guy too!

 

ELIOT STEIN- are you still close with your pals from the Monkees?

(PETER TORK) YES of course.

 

ELIOT STEIN- Is it true that there were scenes filmed for the movie "Head" that would have made it an "R" rating movie?

(PETER TORK) NO!!!... absolutely not...in fact at one point in the scene in the vacuum cleaner... where Mike picks up an object and says "Not one of your standard brands..." he wanted to say..."Look a Marijuana Cigarette"... we held up shooting for an hour because Bob felt it was too outrageous!!!

 

ELIOT STEIN- Was "Head" ahead of its time?

(PETER TORK) Yes... it was avante garde of filmmaking...didn't break any new territory ... It was certainly unusual!!!!

 

ELIOT STEIN-Are you still active in Eastern Philosophy ? (PETER TORK) I still meditate...I am a Buddhist.... I also believe that all religions spring from the truth... However badly they may relate on the surface level!

 

ELIOT STEIN- Peter, since you were involved in one of the greatest "marketing" situations ever involving a band...what are your feeling regarding the shrinking of the entertainment industry to about 5 companies? How does a new person get a break?

(PETER TORK) Nothing is ever easy. It has skewed things. Only the extraordinary few have been able to make it commercially and successfully. Fame is not a pursuable goal. If fame and money are your goals...there are many ways to go about it other than the arts!

 

ELIOT STEIN- Have you ever considered collaborating with Mike on writing a song?

(PETER TORK) I never have considered it...but I will if the opportunity arose... we have not been able to spend that kind of time together!