Ex-Monkee Peter Tork believes in staying positive


Peter Tork never asked "Why me?" when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer a year ago. The former Monkee prefers a more positive outlook on life.

The 65-year-old singer-guitarist, who will perform a concert in Toledo tomorrow night with his Shoe Suede Blues band, said he stayed away from negative thoughts after being told he had adenoid cystic carcinoma, or ACC, of the lower tongue.

"A good attitude generates more comfort. When people say, 'Why me?' and 'How could this happen?' or 'Somebody must be made to pay for my problems,' that attitude is a low-skill approach. It's not very contentment-making," Tork said in an interview last week.

And while he added that he's not afraid to die, it's not because he believes in a glorious afterlife.

"I don't like pain and I don't want to hurt, but the sheer fact of dying in and of itself is of no consequence to me," he said. "When I die, there won't be a 'me' of any kind. There won't be anything, no collection of what we think of as an immutable, individual something or other."

Tork obviously has been doing a lot of philosophizing since his days with the Monkees, the mid-1960s pop-rock band formed by corporate executives looking to tap into some of the Beatlemania phenomenon.

The group proved to be an artistic as well as a commercial success, with a body of work that Tork considers today to be among the best in rock history. Those hits include "Last Train to Clarksville," "I'm a Believer," and "Pleasant Valley Sunday."

Tork, who writes an advice column for the Daily Panic Web site, said he's fully recovered from cancer treatment, but recently has been struggling with hitting falsetto notes.

"I was singing fine two months after I quit radiation," he said. "So it's probably not related to the cancer or treatment at all. I hope it's only momentary."

Shoe Suede Blues features Tork on guitar, keyboards, and vocals, backed by a drummer, bass player, and guitarist. The band will play songs from Tork's solo albums, his Shoe Suede Blues CDs, and, of course, a few Monkees classics such as "Daydream Believer" and "Last Train to Clarksville."

But Tork likes to give the golden oldies a new look.

"We make 'Clarksville' into a slow grind, for example," he said.

Former Monkee Peter Tork and his band Shoe Suede Blues will perform at the Toledo Civic Center, 237 South Erie St., tomorrow with opening bands Elixir and the Nu-Tones. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.; the show starts at 8. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Information: 419-478-2539 or online at niteoutproductions.com.

Contact David Yonke at:

dyonke@theblade.com or