Legendary artist-producer Peter Asher is bringing the latest incarnation of his acclaimed Peter Asher: A Musical Memoir Of The ‘60s And Beyond, Featuring The Music Of Peter and Gordon to New York’s Cutting Room on Nov. 5.
“I just continue updating it,” says Asher, at his office desk in Los Angeles. “Ask when I’ll have a whole new show, the answer is in 50 years—when I have another lifetime of stories!”
Asher’s first 50-year “lifetime of stories,” of course, is as classic as it gets in pop music.
First finding fame with his late partner Gordon Waller in the 1960s British Invasion duo Peter and Gordon (their hits included Lennon-McCartney’s “A World Without Love” and Buddy Holly’s “True Love Ways”), Asher went on to head A&R for the Beatles’ Apple Records, where he found, signed and produced James Taylor and worked closely with the Beatles on their individual projects.
He moved to the U.S. in 1971 and founded Peter Asher Management, out of which he represented Taylor and Linda Ronstadt, whom he also produced. The company also handled such artists as Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman, and Carole King, while Asher maintained his production activities in working with the likes of 10,000 Maniacs, Diana Ross, Neil Diamond, Ringo Starr and Cher.
He began his Musical Memoir shows in 2010. Featuring his Peter and Gordon hits, stories, archival photos and videos, he's been bringing it back to New York and elsewhere (he’s at the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern in Cleveland on Nov. 2) ever since.
His updates this time around will include his work on Elton John’s 40th anniversary reissue of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.
“Elton asked me if I’d like to cut it with some new people, which I was thrilled to do, of course,” says Asher, who did new versions of eight of the Grammy Hall of Fame double-album’s songs with artists including Miguel, Hunter Hayes, Fall Out Boy "and a bunch of others you wouldn’t expect me to do. It will be on a bonus CD along with unreleased Elton odds and ends.”
He recalls how John came to his rental house in Hancock Park the day after his gig at The Troubadour, when “he blew L.A. sideways.”
“As Elton points out, if all the people who say they were there were there, it would be the size of the Staples Center!” says Asher. "But I actually was there! We’ve known each other since then, though to be honest, I’m not sure why he called me. Maybe because I’d done the Buddy Holly project.”
He’s referring to his production of the 2011 Holly tribute CD Listen To Me: Buddy Holly, featuring artists including Linda Ronstadt, Brian Wilson, and Jackson Browne. Also that year he served as music supervisor/audio producer for the 2011 PBS special Buddy Holly: Listen To Me/The Ultimate Buddy Party, in which he also performed along with other Holly fans like Graham Nash, Paul Anka, Stevie Nicks and Lyle Lovett.
Asher now has completed another PBS special, this one tying in with the Steve Martin/Edie Brickell album Love Has Come For You, which he produced.
"It did very well, and we’re mixing the special in the second part of November,” says Asher. “Then we’re turning it into a musical. Steve is an accomplished playwright and has written a great book for it, and Edie has written some amazing new songs. It’s based on stories from the album songs, and we look to open it in San Diego and hope it eventually comes to Broadway.”
Asher will also likely talk about his work on the Rush movie soundtrack.
“I was involved in working on the score and choosing some of the songs,” he says of the film, which concerns the 1970s rivalry between Formula One racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda.
“We had to capture the era, but not with songs from big acts like Led Zeppelin, because no one could afford them,” he says. Hence, he “had fun poking around a bit” and coming up with “cool tracks” like Mud’s big 1973 European pop hit “Dyna-Mite.”
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