HEARTFELT tributes have been paid to Peter Tork, who played bass and keyboard for 1960s pop sensation The Monkees, after his death at the age of 77.
Tork and his bandmates Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith achieved huge success with hits such as I'm A Believer and Daydream Believer after being brought together for their eponymous television series.
He was diagnosed with a rare form of tongue cancer in 2009 and addressed "some concerns" about his health on social media as recently as October last year.
— The Monkees (@TheMonkees) 21 February 2019
A post on Tork's official Facebook page said it was "with beyond-heavy and broken hearts" that the "devastating news" was being shared.
It added: "Our friend, mentor, teacher, and amazing soul, Peter Tork, has passed from this world.
"We want to thank each and every one of you for your love, dedication and support of our 'boss'.
"Having you in our world has meant so very much to all of us. Please know that Peter was extremely appreciative of you, his Torkees, and one of his deepest joys was to be out in front of you, playing his music, and seeing you enjoy what he had to share."
A message posted on The Monkees' official Twitter page said Tork had "passed peacefully" and invited fans to share their favourite memories of the musician.
Also taking to Twitter, Dolenz wrote: "There are no words right now... heartbroken over the loss of my Monkee brother Peter Tork."
— Micky Dolenz (@TheMickyDolenz1) 21 February 2019
The Tork family later released a statement saying they were "deeply saddened" by his death, but "grateful" for the "attentive energy and dedication of Peter's fans worldwide".
They continued: "Peter's energy, intelligence, silliness and curiosity were traits that for decades brought laughter and enjoyment to millions, including those of us closest to him.
"We ask that our family have time and space to grieve in privacy."
Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, a contemporary of Tork's, tweeted:
I’m sad to hear about Peter Tork passing. I thought The Monkees were great and Peter will be missed. Love & mercy to Peter’s family, friends and fans. pic.twitter.com/NquzjTmtFx
— Brian Wilson (@BrianWilsonLive) 21 February 2019
Star Wars star Mark Hamill, a big fan of The Monkees, added:
So sorry to hear we lost #PeterTork. The Monkees never got the respect they deserved. Their music catalogue remains one of the richest in Pop History. Thanks for being such a big part of my childhood & beyond, Pete. #RIPPeterTork pic.twitter.com/zpiolgAfKu
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) 21 February 2019
The four-piece were brought together for their eponymous hit TV show in 1966 and were marketed as a clean-cut American answer to The Beatles, achieving nine Top 40 hits.
The show ran for just two television seasons but won an Emmy Award for outstanding comedy.
Born in Washington in 1942, Tork was also a skilled piano and French horn player and sang on many of The Monkees' biggest hits.
Following the death of Jones from a heart attack in 2012 aged 66, Tork reunited with Dolenz and Nesmith for a US tour and last year contributed to The Monkees' festive album Christmas Party.