Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More On Gordon Waller ... and Peter and Gordon

We received a fair number of additional tributes to Gordon since the news of his passing broke last Friday ... and thought that we would share just a few of those with you today.
Gordon, you will be missed ... and the music of Peter and Gordon will continue to live on. (Hopefully now they'll play some of THEIR Forgotten Hits ... things like "Woman", "Lady Godiva" and "Knight In Rusty Armour" ... all bonafide Top 20 Hits ... have been missing from the airwaves for far too long. (kk)

OK, what was I thinking?!?!
I should have sent you these pictures last week from Super Bowl Sunday, 2009, watching the game and yes, having a drink (I don't do that often) with Gordon Waller and Terry Stewart, President of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Yes, Rewind will be running a special on Gordon ... we did a great interview together.

Speaking of great, Maurice Starr (New Kids on the Block and New Edition Producer) joined me for my tribute to Michael Jackson and it can be heard on Page One of the Rewind Show web site. Sorry I have not sent much e-mail but I am doing three radio shows a week plus tons of gigs.
OK, one more thing before I forget ... Johnny Contardo (Lead Singer of Sha Na Na) and I will be doing a Rewind Dance Party Tour together. If anyone is interested in having us do a hop for you, let me know.
Jimmy Jay
Gordon Waller never made it a secret that he enjoyed spending more than a few hours at the pub ... that had to be a fun night, Jimmy ... thanks for sharing! (kk)

Charlie Gracie, Jr. also sent me pictures of his dad with both Gordon Waller and Peter Asher ... BOTH of whom were BIG Charlie Gracie Fans. (In fact, at a recent show in Philadelphia, Gordon performed Charlie's two biggest hits, "Butterfly" and "Fabulous" in Gracie's honor!!!)
GORDON WALLER -- of the famed British Invasion duo PETER & GORDON -- passed away today (8/17) at the age of 64! The GRACIE FAMILY extends its heartfelt condolences to GORDON'S family and to our friend, PETER ASHER. The guys were long time fans of Charlie's, dating back to the early days when Charlie began performing in Great Britain. Late last year, the guys invited the entire Gracie Family to their Philly-region concert -- a great honor ... and they put on a wonderful show! GORDON WALLER actually treated Charlie to his own versions of BUTTERFLY and FABULOUS that night -- something we will treasure for a long time to come. Here's to the "Everly Brothers of the British Invasion," as they were often dubbed. Again, our hearts go out to the family, friends and fans of Gordon Waller a wonderful man and musician. May God Bless his soul!

Charlie Gracie, Jr.

I was so sad to see this this morning. I was just watching the Walter Cronkite stuff on "Sunday Morning" including his comments about showing the Beatles first on US TV (which is actually incorrect). I felt sad about Walter, because he was important to MY DAD! My dad came home from his 9-5 job and always had to watch the news on TV, which usually sent me to my room to dig local top 40 music.
Now, reading about Gordon's demise, I feel MY LOSS! Walter was important to me later as I grew to appreciate what I had back then, but I ALWAYS have appreciated Gordon's music, and thus, it is more of a personal loss for me than Walter Cronkite.
Gordon was the main voice of the Peter and Gordon duo. When I play the opening lines "Just you know why.." on "True Love Ways", it gives me chills. Same with "Why can't you see..." on "To Know You Is To Love You". The opening word in "Woman" just made you want to hear what words were next. He could rock as he did on "Woman"'s B side, "Wrong From The Start" written by them. They were not as good as Chad and Jeremy at live performances it seemed back then, but on record, with strings and Spector-ish productions, they were awesome. It all fit with Gordon's booming voice.
The fun in the faux opening of "You've had Better Times" and even their Capitol 1969 swan song 45, "I Can Remember" chanting "With you here to guide me and stand close beside me ... " may have been outdated by that time, but still was great to hear for us who grew up loving Peter and Gordon music.
In the 90's, I was a member of the Peter and Gordon Fan Club and Gordon was the mainstay of commentary for the group. Christmas messages and then his reuniting a few times with Peter this past decade kept him visible.
Peter struck gold in the last decades, while Gordon did not. Still, Gordon seemed to embrace his past as a rock star and he will be remembered by all as a great booming voice of the British Invasion not to be equaled.
Rest in peace, my music buddy!
Clark Besch
Covering a few points in your email ... as I recall, Walter Cronkite WAS, in fact, the first to show The Beatles in America ... on a very brief news clip showing the pandemonium going on at a British Airport ... this pre-dated Jack Paar's airing of a similar newsreel clip ... ALL of this before their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Because these were PERFORMANCE videos, they are often forgotten or discounted ... but the truth is, SOME of the media HAD picked up on Beatlemania BEFORE many of us kids discovered it.
I've got some GREAT video clip appearances of Peter and Gordon from various TV appearances in the early and mid-'60's ... ALWAYS very powerful performances. Peter Asher's statement that Gordon was the singer and he was just the "harmony guy" was pretty accurate ... of course it was Peter Asher's connection to Paul McCartney that brought the duo their first round of success ... and it was Peter Asher who went on to fame and fortune as a mega-producer for artists like Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor ... Gordon instead pursued more of an actor's vocation, hitting from time to time on various British television and theatrical productions. Seeing the two of them perform at Beatlefest a few years back was AMAZING ... I am SO glad we went to see that show, something I was too young to do when these guys were at their peak.

And "Woman" and "True Love Ways" are amongst our all-time Peter and Gordon favorites ... we're featuring BOTH of these great tunes here today ... and hoping that some of the deejays on the list will do the same!
As I mentioned before, Gordon would participate with Forgotten Hits from time to time and it was ALWAYS a pleasure to hear from him. Yes, he will be missed. Hopefully, radio will help keep his memory alive by playing some of the classic Peter and Gordon recordings that we don't get to hear all that often anymore. (kk)

Speaking of Gordon Waller (I was a big fan of Peter and Gordon and of Peter's Linda Ronstadt productions) and I thought this might be of interest:
I've had a copy of the attached tune since around 1965. It's from a Jerry Naylor session on which I played rhythm guitar with Peter and Gordon doing the vocal backup. They had done their own version of this song in 1964 and it appears on a Japanese import album titled "In Touch With ... ", released in 2003. The Jerry Naylor version was never released which makes no sense. The recording came from a demo disc, then to cassette, then to computer but you can get an idea how great it is.
Davie Allan
P.S. Thanks for posting my "Minnie" message. I'll be speaking at the celebration and they will be showing pics of Wayne as an "Arrow" and they will play the tune he sang that is on my new album.

This is a GREAT recording, Davie ... what a shame that it has been sitting in the vault for all these years. Thank you SO much for sharing this with our readers ... VERY heavy on the classic Peter and Gordon harmonies we all grew up knowing and loving. (kk)

Here again is Peter Asher's official statement after the passing of his long-time partner, Gordon Waller ...

Gordon played such a significant role in my life that losing him is hard to comprehend – let alone to tolerate. He was my best friend at school almost half a century ago. He was not only my musical partner but played a key role in my conversion from only a snooty jazz fan to a true rock and roll believer as well. Without Gordon I would never have begun my career in the music business in the first place. Our professional years together in the sixties constitute a major part of my life and I have always treasured them. We remained good friends (unusual for a duo!) even while we were pursuing entirely separate professional paths and I was so delighted that after a hiatus of almost forty years we ended up singing and performing together again more recently for the sheer exhilarating fun of it. We had a terrific time doing so. 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. I shall miss him in so many different ways. The idea that I shall never get to sing those songs with him again, that I shall never again be able to get annoyed when he interrupts me on stage or to laugh at his unpredictable sense of humour or even to admire his newest model train or his latest gardening effort is an unthinkable change in my life with which I have not even begun to come to terms.
-- Peter Asher

Here's a list of Peter and Gordon's Top 40 Chart Achievements:
1964 - A World Without Love (#1 USA, #1 UK, #1 Canada)
Nobody I Know (#12 USA, #10 UK, #13 Canada)
I Don't Want To See You Again (#16, Billboard, did not chart in the U
K, #38 Canada)
(above three written by Lennon - McCartney)
1965 - I Go To Pieces (#6, Cash Box, did not chart in the UK, #20 Canada)
True Love Ways (#13, Cash Box, #2 UK, #14 Canada)
To Know You Is To Love You (#24, Billboard, #5 UK, #33 Canada)
Baby I'm Yours (#19, UK ... did not chart in America or Canada)
1966 - Woman (#14, Billboard, #28 UK, #3 Canada)
(written by Paul McCartney under the pseudonym Bernard Webb)
Lady Godiva (#5, Cash Box, #16 UK, #2 Canada)
1967 - Knight In Rusty Armour (#13, Cash Box, did not chart in the UK, #5
Sunday For Tea (#22, Cash Box, did not chart in the UK, #26 Canada)
1968 - You've Had Better Times (#2 Canada, did not chart in the UK or America)
In addition, the duo hit #37 here in Chicago with their 1967 release "The Jokers", from the film of the same name, starring Michael Crawford.

I just found my ORIGINAL review of the Peter and Gordon performance we saw at Beatlefest back in 2006 ... along with a couple of related comments from that same issue. Here it goes again, '60's FLASHBACK style!!!

When it was first announced that Peter and Gordon would be performing at this year's Chicagoland Beatlefest (The Fest For Beatles Fans), I just KNEW that we'd have to attend this year. (It's been a long time since I'd been to Beatlefest ... and Frannie had NEVER been to one ... but THIS concert just sounded too good to be true.) As we've said SO many times here in Forgotten Hits, you need to go out and see these artists when the opportunity arises ... you just never know anymore how long they'll be with us ... or how often they'll tour. Thankfully, we were able to enjoy a GREAT opportunity to see two of the artists who SO shaped our lives while growing up listening to this music. Peter and Gordon are completing a world tour together and have several other dates scheduled around The United States ... check them out if you can ... you may not get another chance!!!

Yes, they have certainly gotten older ... and it's been a LONG time since they've gone out and performed together ... but the good news is that they've maintained a fair amount of charisma, a good sense of humor and enough of an ability to sing on-key most of the time that, as such, we really enjoyed seeing Peter and Gordon perform at Beatlefest this past weekend.
They performed nearly every Top 40 Hit they had (only Knight In Rusty Armour and Sunday For Tea were missing from the line-up) which includes, of course four Lennon and McCartney tracks given to the band while Paul was dating Peter's sister, Actress Jane Asher. In between, they kept us entertained with humorous anecdotes and, in fact, an earlier question and answer session that was most enlightening. (After Peter Asher had spent some time talking about how Paul McCartney lived at the Asher family home for a couple of years whenever The Beatles were in London ... and had even composed several songs there ... including the earliest "Scrambled Eggs" version of "Yesterday" right there on the premises ... Gordon Waller then told the audience that his all-time two favorite Beatles' songs were "I'll Follow The Sun" and "Things We Said Today" ... and that he asked Paul if, perhaps, he'd be willing to give THOSE two away for the duo to record. "No", Paul replied ... "John LIKES these two!!!" (Apparently Lennon didn't think "A World Without Love" was strong enough for The Beatles to record themselves ... so Paul gave the song to Peter and Gordon and it immediately went to #1 all over the world!!! Incredibly, The Beatles themselves wouldn't be doing sophisticated arrangements like that for a couple more years!)

They opened their show with my personal Peter and Gordon favorite, "I Go To Pieces", written by Del Shannon. Along the way, they did a VERY nice version of the Buddy Holly tune "True Love Ways" (ANOTHER favorite of mine), a GREAT live version of "Lady Godiva" (which Asher admitted he HATED when it was first presented to them and felt it would be a HUGE mistake to record the song ... however, once it became a Top Five worldwide hit, he says, he came to love it!!!) They recreated their "wall of sound" effect for their rendition of Phil Spector's "To Know You Is To Love You" and then closed the show (quite emotionally, I might add) with the Paul McCartney (or is that Bernard Webb???) tune "Woman", a song VERY near and dear to the hearts of both Frannie and myself. Gordon also talked a little bit about the Mike Smith Benefit Concert (which first reunited the duo) and said that it would soon be available for purchase on DVD. (Peter and Gordon then performed THEIR version of The Dave Clark Five classic "Because".) Another emotional part of the show was when "Breakfast With The Beatles" Radio Host Martin Lewis came out and read a telegram from Sir Paul himself congratulating the duo on reuniting and once again helping to prevent "A World Without Love". (By the way, Peter Asher is still quite active "behind the glass", too ... he just finished producing the brand new Diana Ross album, which will contain a version of Paul McCartney's White Album Track "I Will".)

-- Forgotten Hits, 2006

"True Love Ways" by Peter and Gordon is one of my all-time favorite Peter and Gordon tracks ... just a GREAT rendition of this song. In fact, this one JUST might be one of those ultra-rare remakes that actually outshines the original. Now that's taking NOTHING away from Buddy Holly ... but this is a pretty emotionally-charged, powerful reading by Peter and Gordon!!! (By the way, Frannie wants to know if, in fact, circa-1964 Peter Asher was actually the inspiration for the whole Austin Powers look! LOL Boy, after watching a few vintage videoclips this past weekend, he SURE does look like him!!!) kk

I even found a couple of follow-up pieces:
A while back I told you that we were fortunate enough to see Peter and Gordon perform at this year's Chicagoland Beatlefest. And I ALSO told you that they read a telegram from Sir Paul McCartney, congratulating the duo on reuniting. I just found a copy of the actual text from this statement and wanted to share it with you:
"What the world needs now is Peter and Gordon to sing their songs and remind us all of the fab years they are from. I'm very glad to hear that they have got together after these many moons and are going to help to make a world without love into a love-filled planet."

The YouTube clip showing their recent performance at The Mike Smith Benefit Concert has since been removed from the site ... however, you can find all kinds of OTHER Peter and Gordon videos posted on YouTube, including vintage television cuts as well as recent appearances from their various reunion tours:

Click here: YouTube - _Peter and Gordon

Meanwhile, we got THIS little note from Gordon Waller to share, too!!!
Hi Kent -
We are still waiting for the DVD news as to its release. I will keep you posted. Peter and I are however off to Toronto this week and planning to do a DVD from there .
Gordon Waller

The concert for the Mike Smith benefit had been recorded and the dvd was being pressed up when negotiations fell through and people who owned the publishing on songs wanted their money instead of letting all of the profits go to Mike, so they refused to let the DVD get released. Such a shame, I would've enjoyed it very much, and likely would've bought two copies, one for myself and one for a buddy of mine in California. tomd
Here's hoping that they can work out the legalities of this as I'm sure SEVERAL folks on the list would love to get their hands on a copy ... especially if the proceeds go to a good cause. (This is one of the most aggravating parts about the music business ... you get these artists together, willing to do something for a good cause ... give up their time and their talent ... put their hearts and souls into something ... and then the record companies have to get THEIR hands into the pot to take away part of the money. This is the music that these artists created in the first place ... yet they have NO rights to their own talent and compassion. They're not even allowed to perform a good deed. This was a CHARITY event, for God's sake!!! What is WRONG with these record labels?!?!?)

UPDATE: We later found out that Peter Noone had organized a collection of donations and "well wishes" that he was going to pass along to Mike Smith ... and was also trying to get him a specialized van to transport him and his medical essentials once he got out of the hospital. Several folks on our mailing list sent along their greetings and donations to this cause. Of course, Mike passed away just prior to The Dave Clark Five's induction into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame last year ... and the benefit concert DVD STILL has not seen the light of day. (kk)

You've been talking to Gordon Waller, from Peter & Gordon?? Kent, do an interview with them!!! Holy heck, I love their music almost as much as I do Herman's Hermits!!! Lady Godiva, Woman, I Don't Want To See You Again, A World Without Love, I Go To Pieces, True Love Ways, Nobody I Know, Sunday For Tea, Knight In Rusty Armour ... all of them are classics. Since I'm part of the younger generation, I had to grow up with oldies radio rather than when these songs were the current hits of the day. When I started buying records with my own money (rather than having my mother buy them for me), A World Without Love was one of the first 45's I bought. I ended up giving it away to a friend of mine from Maine when we met in person for the first time 5 years ago. tomd
Yeah, I love their music, too ... it was a REAL treat to see them perform at Chicago's Beatlefest
a couple of months back. Hopefully, we'll talk with them some more once they get back from Canada ... so stay tuned!!! (kk)

When all was said and done, we probably talked to Gordon Waller two more times after the above pieces ran, both regarding the STILL as-yet-unreleased DVD of The Mike Smith Fund Raising Concert ... and we never did hear back from Peter Asher. Too bad ... I would have LOVED the opportunity to thank them BOTH for all the great musical memories they left us with. Like we keep saying, see your favorites while you can. We have lost SO much great talent these past few years ... don't risk regretting not seeing some of yours!!! (kk)