Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Meanwhile On The East Coast ... Peter Asher

Peter Asher: A Memoir of the 60s and Beyond 

This was like attending one of my classes. It is multi-media, live, informative and fun. I can’t teach my courses any more so I am really glad to know that others are making a concert circuit that brings the 60’s, 70’s and beyond to full bloom right before our eyes.  

Oh excuse me … shhhh … Eric Idle has started the introduction.  

This interactive video has Eric trying to decipher Peter’s writing exclaiming all of Peter’s virtues.  

"Humanitarian … blah blah blah … Grammy winner … blah blah blah … shagging Marianne Faithfull. OH I DON’T THINK SO! ... Peter Asher!” 

A conversation between Eric and Peter ensues wherein Eric wants to know why Gordon isn’t here and frankly HE was the favorite so there’s no reason to hang around. Eric walks off-screen.  

Peter should have asked John Cleese.  

For the next two and a half hours, we are entertained in song and regaled with stories, images and videos of The British Invasion and beyond. The black and white pictures of the 50’s war-torn Britain give a compelling argument as to why American music (Rock and Roll, R&B, Folk) had such a lifting effect on the teens and young adults across the pond. And on top of this, Americans had perfect teeth, giant refrigerators, big cars and women with big … potential. Well, the magazines said so anyway.  

Peter states a fact that hits me solidly ... 

The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were originally TRIBUTE bands. All of The British Invasion artists played covers of American songs long before they started writing their own material. The Beatles in Hamburg and The Cavern; The Stones in Studio 51. 

American TV gave Peter Asher (and for one episode, his sister Jane), a crack at childhood stardom in the series ‘Robin Hood.’  I loved that show! There was action, romance, and English history (kinda). For those of you running to find archives, Peter played a young Prince Arthur in about five episodes. He and Jane played peasant children in one later segment. And did I ever pick up that Prince Arthur was now a different child? If I did, I have forgotten. I may have, as I remember much of this program. However, if I said anything, my parents would have responded with “This is Hollywood ... Actors play different roles.”  

There is the beginning of Peter and Gordon … or I should say Gordon and Peter. They were Gordon and Peter performing at the Pickwick Inn until they landed their record contract. Gordon was truly lead on vocals with Peter’s harmonies, but someone at EMI thought reversing the names sounded better. Peter graciously didn’t mind. (and apparently Gordon didn’t object).  

I have heard the Marianne Faithfull, John Dunbar, Mick Jagger story before and currently I am reading ‘Faithfull,’ Marianne’s autobiography. I read it because of Peter and Jeremy. They (and even when they appeared with Chad) have mentioned it at other shows. And, well, viewing ‘My Very Own British Invasion’ musical from Peter Noone added to my curiosity. So I vividly see the kerfuffle that encroached the real lives of these friends of Peter Asher’s and agree that he needs to refuse all Best Man wedding requests.  

Becoming Head of A&R for Apple Records, discovering and managing James Taylor, combining James Taylor and Carole King, and managing Linda Ronstadt take his lucrative career onto another level. Peter’s production days bring him in contact with Badfinger and, indeed, his musical director is Jeff Alan Ross, who plays keyboards in all his shows. The bass player tonight is Jennifer Oberle, who adds beautiful vocal enhancements to the Peter and Gordon songs.  

I pause here for comic relief. 

The addition of Allen Klein to Apple created more seismic activity than could any earthquake. Eric Idle created a short for The Rutles called  ‘Ron Decline’ that, according to those who were present, accurately represents Allen’s descent on Apple. Peter showed it to us. Go watch it! There is also one called ‘Where is the money’ that I just watched.  

Bringing us up full-speed to the present with managing Ed Sheeran and becoming The Hot Manager of Hollywood, he ends with two duets ‘with’ Gordon. This is the most powerful, tearful part of tonight. “Some times we’ll cry. But by and by we’ll know True Love Ways.” 

The standing ovation was for his presentation tonight, his life in the music industry, his connection to the musicians we love, and our connection to the time of our lives that he and others gave to us.

Me: “Thank you for coming back.”
Peter: “No, thank YOU for coming back here. You paid. Or if you snuck in … (giving me a thumbs up) GOOD FOR YOU!” 

Set List:
I Go To Pieces
Baby, I’m Yours
Crying In The Rain  (Peter pointed out that every duo is modeled after The Everly Brothers.  Beautiful compositions, beautiful harmonies.)
I Don’t Want to See You Again
Nobody I Know
Lady Godiva (playing a banjolele)
As Tears Go By
Day After Day
Woman (with Gordon Waller)
True Love Ways (with Gordon Waller)
A World Without Love (encore … we had already heard the story and seen the written lyrics)  

-- Shelley J Sweet-Tufano

I have seen Peter Asher a few times now (although not in this setting) and he is a terrific storyteller (even if it does take him sometimes three times longer to get to the point than it should.)  Still, the life he's been able to lead ... the people whose paths he has crossed ... would be enough to fill a book ... and apparently it has!  (I guess I'll have to pick up a copy of "The Beatles From A to Zed ... An Alphabetical Mystery Tour" when it comes out in November.)
[You can pre-order a copy now:

The first time was at a Beatlefest several years ago when Gordon Waller was still alive and they performed an amazing set of hits.  His shows with Jeremy Clyde are musically very entertaining but suffer from the same dilemma of taking ten minutes to tell a story that can be told in three.

Still, this sounds like an interesting show (2 1/2 hours?!?!  Really?!?!?  I once saw George Martin due one of these and he played actual Beatles outtakes on stage, did a Q&A afterwards and then signed copies of his book ... and THAT didn't take 2 1/2 hours!!!)

Sounds like he's off to Australia for a spell to tour with Albert Lee ... but maybe he'll do more of these intimate setting shows when he gets back to The States later in the year.  I'll have to keep an eye out for that.