You’ll read many well-researched and deservedly thoughtful in memoriams to Peter Tork of the Monkees, who died today at the age of 77.
This, however, is not one of them.
Instead, we’re just here to remind you—or maybe let you know for the first time—that Tork attended Carleton College. Which is in Northfield. Which is in Minnesota.
Tork was born in Washington, D.C., which is not technically part of Minnesota, in 1942. But his family was so incredibly Scandinavian that his birth name was Peter Halsten Thorkelson, and that has to count for something.
Details of Tork’s Carleton years are a little sketchy. It was Tork’s dad’s alma mater, and he told the Pioneer Press in 2014 he spent “two and a third” years there and didn’t graduate. “I flunked out,” he told 16 Magazine more bluntly in 1967. His Washington Post obit says “he reportedly flunked out twice.” Let’s just say the guy was no Thorstein Veblen, ok? (Then again, Veblen probably couldn’t play the guitar for shit.)
But this much we know: After parting ways with Carleton, Tork went to New York to become a folksinger and changed his name, as was the custom for people who dropped out of Minnesota colleges in the ’60s.
A 2011 article in the Carleton College Voice relates one last significant Tork-related occurrence within Minnesota. In 1979, some Carleton students who called themselves the Gang of Three swiped a portrait of the college’s first president and replaced it with a Day-Glo velvet painting of noted non-Minnesotan Elvis Presley. After a month of negotiations, the group agreed to return the painting if the college would dedicate a “pinball area” to Tork—“now-defunct,” the article adds.