SANTA MONICA, CA–When Gordon Waller passed away seven years ago, his long-time partner Peter Asher decided to carry the torch for the British duo that were famously known as “Peter & Gordon.”
On Saturday at McCabes Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, Asher teamed-up with fellow Brit and also famous guitarist and vocalist, Albert Lee, for a special acoustic performance and conversation. Also appearing was “Sweet Baby” James Taylor’s sister Kate, who played a set and most adequately warmed things up for Asher and Lee.
When Asher was A & R director for the Beatles’ Apple Records, he became a legend as producer and manager of James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, and others. When Asher established his own management company in 1971, he produced and managed the release of Kate’s debut album “Sister Kate” on Atlantic Records.
So he has a close connection with Kate, who obviously has good genetics and displayed that to the welcoming audience. Asher is a master storyteller and he also let Lee join in with some of his own anecdotes about the background of their music and careers.
Asher spoke about his younger sister, actress and businesswoman Jane Asher, who in the mid-1960’s was girlfriend of Paul McCartney. For a few years, McCartney took up residence in the Asher home in England and during that time gave Peter & Gordon a song he wrote that would become their first and biggest hit, “A World Without Love” in 1964.
John Lennon found disfavor with the song because of the lyrics “please lock me away.” Multiple Grammy winners Lee and Asher both also lavished much praise upon the Everly Brothers who they and the music industry consider the architects of duo vocal harmony.
For 25 years, Lee was the Everly’s music director. He also was a touring musician with Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton, Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill, Rosanne Cash, McCartney & Ringo (“The Concert for George”), among others. In honor of the Everly’s, they performed “Crying in the Rain.”
One bright spot of the performance was when Asher and Lee sang “I Go to Pieces,” a song written by Del Shannon which became a Top Ten hit for Peter & Gordon in 1965. They had 10 Top 40 hits. From the Peter & Gordon catalog, they harmonized beautifully while singing “A World Without Love.”
And from Lee’s back pages, he sang the Jimmy Webb-penned title track from his new acoustic album, “The Highwayman.” Asher also spoke about Buddy Holly and how influential he was to his look and music choices. Asher liked the signature black glasses that Holly wore, so he got a pair for himself.
Holly wrote the song “True Love Ways” which became a big success for him in 1960, but it was Peter & Gordon’s 1965 remake that hit #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #2 in the UK. Asher and Lee did the song justice. Holly would have been proud.
When the performance ended, the audience members left feeling like they had joined them both on their life travels down the path of music history.
Photo Credit: Michael Weintrob