Peter Tork back in Bay for Monkees’ new tour

At 74, Peter Tork has fond memories of his two Bay Area residencies. “I lived in San Anselmo in ’71 and ’72, and then again in ’76 and ’77, but Fairfax was the center of the universe for me. It had four music joints in a downtown that was two blocks long,” recalls the Monkees bassist, who returned to Los Angeles both times. “Good stuff was happening there, but by Walnut Creek, it was gone,” he says. Today Tork is celebrating his band’s 50th anniversary touring (without the late Davy Jones). promoting “Good Times!,” a recording produced by Adam Schlesinger with retro-hip contributions from Ben Gibbard, Rivers Cuomo, Andy Partridge and the team of Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller.

How’s your health? You had a cancer scare recently, right?

It’s a rare cancer, and it’s even rarer that it should be on the tongue –it’s usually up in the tear ducts. But there was a big old lump and they took it out, and then we’ve been monitoring it ever since. But I’m pretty chipper at the moment, so life goes on. Until it doesn’t.

Can you believe it’s been 50 years?

No, I cannot. I mean, I can, because the numbers don’t lie. But I’m hardly over 50 myself, is the way it feels. But as long as I can do a quick little double cross-step, hop, and skip in the middle of my star turn onstage? It’s cool.

Your TV show “The Monkees” was pretty groundbreaking.

Yeah. It was a rare show. It was the only show on television up to that time, and for years afterward, featuring young adults with no senior adults — we were taking care of ourselves, thank you very much. There was none of that “Father Knows Best” or “My Three Stupid Sons.”

And Stephen Stills actually recommended you for the role?

Yep. Stephen and I were the kids who looked alike on the Greenwich Village folk scene. He met one of the show’s producers socially, but the producer told him, “We wouldn’t mind having you, except I’m sorry to say that your hair and teeth would not photograph well. So do you know anybody who looks like you, but who has one-tenth your talent?” And he immediately thought of me.

How excited were you when Adam Schlesinger started recruiting all these legendary composers for “Good Times!”?

Adam was the magic name. We’d all heard his work on “That Thing You Do,” and it was obvious that he knew how to do the ‘60s in the ‘90s, and the ‘70s in 2016. As soon as we heard his name, Mickey (Dolenz) and I looked at each other and said, “Great!” And then? Here came the songs!”

IF YOU GO
The Monkees
Where: Warfield, 982 Market St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Sept. 20
Tickets: $42.50 to $92.50
Contact: (415) 345-9000, www.axs.com

Tom Lanham
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Tom Lanham

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