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Interview: Peter Asher recalls 50 years of British Invasion memories

Peter Asher
Peter Asher
Keith Putney -- used by permission.

The Beatles aren't the only ones celebrating 50th anniversaries this year. 2014 also marks 50 years since Peter & Gordon's first number one hit in America, the John Lennon-Paul McCartney song “World Without Love.” Asher said in a phone interview this year is bringing back a lot of good memories.

“It was very exciting. There have been various anniversaries whipping by: the 50th anniversary of us recording it, the 50th anniversary of the British number 1 and the 50th anniversary of our American number 1.”

“A World Without Love” debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at #76 on May 9, 1964. It rocketed to #30 its second week on the chart, then jumped another 20 places its third week landing at #10, It reached #2 on June 13, then #1 on June 27, dislodging “Chapel of Love” by the Dixie Cups, which had held the top spot for three weeks.

“Probably the most significant of them was the American number 1,” he noted. “What people forget now is that when the Beatles they were told they were number 1 in America, it was very big news in and of itself because British acts did not have hits in America up until then.

"But even more significant in a way was what it implied – which was the minute we got that news or they got that news, we knew we were going to get to go to America. And that was a long-held dream for all of us. One of the things I talk about in my show is you know that people forget how far apart Britain and America were at the time in the sense that it was hard and expensive to go and visit.”

Asher is getting ready to go back out on the road with his “Peter Asher: A Musical Memoir of the '60s and Beyond” show in which he tells nostalgic stories and features rare pictures and film clips of himself and his late musical partner Gordon Waller of Peter and Gordon. The first show will be at The Cutting Room at 7:30 p.m. July 23, then he'll play Johnny D's in Somerville, Mass., at 7:30 p.m. July 24.

He'll also guest star at two Denny Laine shows July 25 and 26 at Oceanic Inn's One Soho Square in Old Orchard Beach Maine. Those shows will feature complete performances of “Abbey Road” the first night and “Band on the Run” the second. He'll also make a guest appearance at a British Invasion tour show headlined by Gerry and the Pacemakers Sept. 19 in Los Angeles. Outside of his live appearances, Asher says he's also working on a musical for Steve Martin and Edie Brickell that opens in San Diego in September.

Asher said Waller was also very excited about visiting America. “He was a big rock 'n' roll fan and the fact that we would get to go to the country of Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran and Elvis … it was a magical thing. I talk in the show about how America was infinitely more glamorous and shiny and perfect than England, but that combined with it's where the music we loved came from was more than for Gordon and for me.”

Of the American TV shows they did such as “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “Shindig!” and “Hullabaloo,” Asher says one definitely sticks out. “Those three were ones we all remembered well because we really enjoyed singing live on television. Most of the shows we did you did not do that. Most of them were lip-synched like Dick Clark's “American Bandstand,” “Where The Action Is” and “The Lloyd Thaxton Show.” The live ones were the most fun.

“'I think 'Hullabaloo' wins. In the show, I play a little clip in my show of our 'Hullabaloo' appearance where we got to sing with Diana Ross and the Supremes, Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs and Frankie Avalon and others all on the same song. That was very cool.”

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