Peter And Gordon





Peter Asher and Gordon Waller were called "the Everly Brothers of the British Invasion". They harmonized in ear pleasing intervals, strummed acoustic guitars in tandem, and recorded an impressively consistent string of hit songs. They blended folk, blues and rock 'n' roll with their own pop-flavoured English sensibility. The results included, among other things, the first British invasion single by an artist other than The Beatles to go to #1.

Waller met Asher at the Westminster School for Boys in London. They were about the only two people at school who played guitar and sang, and soon became friends. Peter was big on jazz as well as a folk music fan. Gordon was more rock 'n roll, above all a big fan of Elvis. They found common ground in The Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly.

They first started singing together for their own entertainment, alone or at parties and eventually tried a lunchtime gig for a little money and free food in a local pub. From there, they got a regular booking at a place called The Pickwick Club, a supper club in London where a lot of show business people went. After being there for some months, Norman Newell, an AandR man for EMI Records called them over to his table, asking "Have you boys ever made a record? Here's my card, I work for EMI, come and make an appointment to do a demo." They did, he liked it and signed them to a contract.

When Capitol signed the two, Peter's relationship with Paul McCartney, who was living in the Asher family home, soon proved advantageous. For most of the sixties, McCartney's steady girlfriend was Jane Asher, Peter's sister. McCartney taught them "World Without Love", a song the Beatles had never used, that he had written earlier in his career. The track sounded like an early Beatles song, and Peter and Gordon took it to #1 on both sides of the Atlantic in 1964. The duo also scored hits with the Lennon and McCartney songs "Nobody I Know" and "I Don't Want to See You Again", both left unused by the Beatles, along with "Woman" (written by McCartney under an alias). Suddenly Peter and Gordon were among the most recognizable faces of the British Invasion.

Peter and Gordon also turned out to be astute song finders outside the Lennon-McCartney sphere. "I Go To Pieces" was acquired while on tour in Australia with Del Shannon and The Searchers. Del was playing it for the Searchers in their dressing room, they didn't want it, Peter and Gordon did.

The two also had success with Buddy Holly's "True Love Ways" and Phil Spector"s "To Know You Is To Love You", all of which charted well in the U.S., making the Top 40. They kept their hit streak going in l966 and '67 with music-hall novelties such as "Lady Godiva" and "Knight in Rusty Armour" and parent-pleasing pop like "Sunday For Tea".

Many musicians of the day played on some of their records, among them John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin playing bass and the late Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones on guitar. Peter and Gordon always played rhythm guitar on their albums, with Gordon playing 12-string on "I Go To Pieces". Lead electric guitar was almost never them.

In the mid-1960s, Waller indirectly set in motion a series of pop relationships when he began dating Jenny Dunbar. Dunbar introduced her brother John to the Waller/Asher social set, which included Jane Asher and her boyfriend, McCartney. John's wife, Marianne Faithful, was subsequently discovered by the Rolling Stones' manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, who transformed her into a pop star (she later became Mick Jagger's girlfriend). Later in the decade, John Dunbar, Peter Asher and Barry Miles formed the fabled Indica Bookstore and Gallery, where John Lennon first met Yoko Ono.

Following a four-year, ten song hit spree, Peter and Gordon went their separate ways in l968.

Peter Asher became A&R director for the Beatles' Apple Records, then moved to Los Angeles. As a record producer, he helped usher in the mellow California rock sound made famous by many artists he worked with, including Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor and 10,000 Maniacs. He was voted "Producer Of the Year" in 1977 by Rolling Stone Magazine.

Gordon Waller was left to carry on alone. In 1970 he came to America to record a solo album in New York which had the dubious title "....and Gordon". Unfortunately the promotion on this record was not up to par and the album containing mostly original material fell by the way-side. He then issued a few unsuccessful solo singles, including "The Lady In The Window" before largely retreating from the music world.

In l971 Gordon was approached by Tim Rice to play the part of Pharaoh in the musical Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Edinburgh Festival. The show was a smashing success and Gordon's holiday from his landscaping-gardening business in Northamptonshire developed into yet another career enhancement. Joseph... went from Edinburgh to The Roundhouse in North London, The National Theatre, Young Vic and finally into the West End where Gordon received standing ovations every night for the run of the play.

In June l975 Gordon went to Australia to get married and ended up once again in Joseph at the brand new Seymour Centre in Sydney. The reviews and audience reception were outstanding and at the end of the Australia run, Gordon decided to give stage work a break, but continued to write the occasional song. Waller later started a music publishing company with his partner, Georgiana Steele, called Steel Wallet International Ltd.

As for Peter Asher, after being named Producer Of the Year for a second time in 1989, he was hired as Senior Vice President of Sony Music Entertainment in February, 1995. In early 2002, Peter became co-President of Sanctuary Artist management and in January, 2005, he was named President of the firm.

In August, 2005, Peter and Gordon were slated to play at a benefit concert for Mike Smith of The Dave Clark Five, who was seriously injured in a fall at his home in 2003. It would be the first time the pair had performed together in 35 years. The reunited duo continued to perform from time to time into 2006. In the spring of 2007 and 2008, Peter And Gordon were featured performers in the Flower Power concert series at Disney's EPCOT in Florida. The duo also appeared manytimes at the 50 Winters Later celebration, in February, 2009, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa.

On July 17th, 2009, Gordon Waller died of cardiac arrest at the age of 64. In a statement on his website, Peter Asher said: "Gordon played such a significant role in my life that losing him is hard to comprehend - let alone to tolerate. Gordon remains one of my very favourite singers of all time and I am still so proud of the work that we did together. I am just a harmony guy and Gordon was the heart and soul of our duo."

For more, be sure to read Gary James' interviews with
Peter Asher and Gordon Waller

Peter and Gordon's greatest hits:

World Without Love (#1)
Nobody I Know (#12)
I Don't Want To See You Again (#16)
I Go To Pieces (#9)
Woman (#14)
To Know You Is To Love You (#24)
True Love Ways (#14)
Lady Godiva (#6)
Knight In Rusty Armor (#15)
Sunday For Tea (#31)