The Ultimate Peter and Gordon Interview

1964 was the year The Beatles conquered the USA. Meanwhile, back home there was 
a new pop duo hitting the charts that went by the name of Peter and Gordon. 
Peter Asher was born in London June 22 1944, the son of a doctor and a 
professional musician. He was educated at Westminster School in London and at 
Kings College, London University, where he studied philosophy.

Gordon Waller was born in Braemar, Scotland in 1945, and also attended 
Westminster Boys School where he met Peter. The pair soon became a folk duo, 
performing at various venues in London. In January 1964, Norman Newell from EMI 
saw them playing at the Pickwick Club. Paul McCartney started dating Peter's 
sister Jane Asher, and soon became part of the Asher household, living in a 
small room at the top of their house. He wrote their first single 'A World 
Without Love', which went to number one within two weeks, selling over a million 
copies worldwide. Peter and Gordon frequently appeared on the sixties pop show 
'Ready Steady Go!' performing hit singles including the chart-topping 'A World 
Without Love', and their second million-selling single 'Nobody I Know' - another 
McCartney penned composition. They appeared on the same bill as their friends 
The Beatles, many times, and in America, Peter and Gordon appeared on the 
legendary Ed Sullivan Show. Paul wrote another song, 'Woman', for them in 1966, 
this time under the name 'Bernard Webb', and despite the anonymous writer's 
name, the song still made the top twenty in America and reached 28 in the UK 
charts. Peter and Gordon finally split up in 1967. They amassed nine Top 20 
records (three of them gold) during their career. 

In 1968, Peter Asher became head of A&R for The Beatles newly formed record 
company, Apple Records, where he signed and produced James Taylor. In 1971, 
Asher moved to the U.S. and founded Peter Asher Management, representing James 
Taylor and, beginning in 1973, the management and production of Linda Ronstadt 
as well. Peter Asher Management became one of the most successful Artist 
Management companies in the US, handling artist such as Joni Mitchell, Randy 
Newman, and Carole King as well as James and Linda. 

As a producer, Peter has worked with such diverse artist as James Taylor, 10,000 
Maniacs, Diana Ross, Neil Diamond, Ringo Starr, Linda Ronstadt, Cher and Billy 
Joel, among many others. He has been awarded 36 RIAA- certified gold albums and 
22 platinum albums in the US and many more internationally. Peter Asher has 
produced eight Grammy Award-winning recordings, and in 1977 and 1989 was 
honoured with the Grammy Award for 'Producer of the Year'. In February 1995, 
Peter Asher was named Senior Vice President of Sony Music Entertainment.
In 1973 Gordon Waller appeared onstage in 'Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour 
Dreamcoat' in London and Australia. He later went on to become a partner in a 
company that makes commercials for radio. 

Thirty-five years after the split, I managed to track down Peter and Gordon. 
They are both living in the USA and are still working in the music business. 
With a newly released greatest hits album and sixties nostalgia hitting the 
music stores again, a new generation will be able to enjoy 'The Ultimate Sound 
of Peter and Gordon'. It is a great honour to introduce to you… Peter and 
Gordon. 

Please tell us about The Ultimate Peter and Gordon CD and how the idea came 
about? 
Gordon Waller: The idea came from Capitol but then they decided again it hence 
CCM took it over and we are very pleased with the outcome. Paul McCartney does 
an intro and outro on the CD. 

Which songs mean most to you on the album and what memories do they bring back 
to you from the 1960s?
Peter Asher: I suppose that 'A World Without Love' will always have a certain 
special significance, as the song which began my career in the music business - 
and I shall always be grateful for that. I love 'I Go To Pieces' and 
(especially) 'Knight in Rusty Armour'. But all of them bring back very fond 
memories of a significant part of my life. I am proud of the work that Gordon 
and I did together. 
GW: It will probably have to be 'You've Had Better Times'. It was great fun 
recording that track; notice we did that in only 2 takes. 

Will we Beatles fans get to hear more from Peter and Gordon in the 21st Century? 
PA: Well, in the sense that we do not tour or record together anymore - then I 
suppose not. But if our old recordings get heard more we shall be delighted.
GW: Only previous recordings. I am not sure if there is anything else that is 
unreleased. 

Is it right that you signed to The Beatles label in the 1960s Apple? 
PA: No, I was however the head of A&R for Apple and worked with The Beatles in 
that capacity for several years.
GW: Wish we had but no.

What have Peter and Gordon been doing and have you both still been performing as 
a duo, or working with in the music after all these years?
PA: I am still working with music, but Gordon and I no longer perform together. 
GW: Peter and I haven't performed together for 30 years. I have been working on 
solo projects and also have a publishing company now.

What did you think of "Beatlemania". Were they the ones that inspired you to 
become Peter and Gordon? 
PA: No, Gordon and I were both singing and playing music before Beatlemania - 
and we joined up because we enjoyed singing together. However, The Beatles were, 
of course, a massive influence on our career and our music - as they were on 
everyone else.
GW: We were initially 'Gordon and Peter' and started working together before we 
even met The Beatles. We worked in nightclubs in London and were discovered by 
Norman Newell who offered us a recording contract with EMI. Our name was changed 
to 'Peter and Gordon' because it just fitted better.

Could you tell us how Sir Paul McCartney came to do the introduction and outro 
on your Greatest Hits album?
PA: I don't know how the intro came about. Paul and I don't see that much of 
each other these days, but I certainly still regard him as a friend. 
GW: I'm not sure, but I think it was from a television show we were on and Paul 
and John were introducing us, but I can't be absolutely sure about that.

Can you remember any of your live shows from the 1960s and what remains the most 
memorable?
PA: Shows were very different then - even as the headliner we did a very short 
set by today's standards and sound systems were really primitive. But the girls 
made it all worthwhile!
GW: The Anraneta Coliseum in the Philippines. 
People like me feel cheated of some of the world's BEST live music (60's)! 

Please can you explain to us why it was so different and what it was like being 
an artist at that time? 
PA: Well, for the reasons I mention above, although I am not sure the live shows 
were really so brilliant - but nobody could hear much so perhaps it did not 
matter! It was certainly a very exciting time for us all.
GW: Because it was very basic, and didn't have a lot of gimmicks. It was a great 
time to be making music because everything else was changing. 

How difficult was it in the 60's to get established as a musician and a 
songwriter?
PA: We were lucky - we got spotted playing in a club and signed up pretty 
quickly - and then our first record was a hit. Generally, it's very difficult to 
get established in the music business in any era. The music has to be great - 
and you need some good luck to go with it! 

Who were your idols of that time? And why do you think that younger generations 
are still in love with this music? 
PA: Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Everly Brothers and of course, The Beatles! The 
best music of any era lasts well, I think. 
GW: Elvis Presley, The Everly Brothers, and a lot of American artists were my 
greatest influences. 

Have you ever seen a Beatles Tribute act? How do they compare to the real thing? 
What did you think of The Beatles Live? 
PA: I haven't seen a Beatles Tribute act but The Beatles were exceptionally good 
live!
GW: I have seen many Beatles Tribute acts and have found them to be very good.

What did you make of Beatlemania? 
PA: Fun.
GW: Well it was a great time for Peter and I because we were so much a part of 
that. 

What does it take to write a hit song? 
PA: Haven't done so yet! 
GW: A good idea for lyrics and a melody to expand on. 

What do you think of today's music business? Are you glad that you made your 
name in the 1960s instead of today? 
PA: I have very much enjoyed being in the music business in different roles 
through five different decades. The changes have been massive but there is still 
some great music and still many people in the business who love it. 
GW: Yes and Yes. 

What are your personal favourite songs from the Peter and Gordon collection? 
PA: I should sit down and listen to the whole album to make an unbiased choice - 
I have not done so yet!
GW: I have quite a few favourites - far too many to name!! 

What has the year 2001 have in store for Peter and Gordon and will we see you in 
the UK again?
PA: Peter and Gordon as such have no plans. I am in the UK very frequently 
myself, but if you mean gigs, then I am afraid not. 
GW: I am at the moment trying to finish a new CD. 

Jo Rishton with Peter Asher and Gordon Waller
TWIL Issue 5 August 2001
(This interview may not be reproduced without permission of the owners, Peter 
Asher and Gordon Waller. Many thanks to Kathy Holland, (Personal Assistant to 
Peter and Gordon) for making this possible, John F Beckham (Executive Assistant 
to Senior Vice President, Sony Music Entertainment) Peter Asher (Senior Vice 
President, Sony Music Entertainment), Gordon Waller, (Peter and Gordon) and 
Scott Moss of Plastic Wings for the introduction.)