Not as priceless as Paul McCartney’s hand-written lyrics, but still pretty cool.
The Chicago area looked like a world without love last night as a freezing rain covered the streets and sidewalks with a treacherous sheet of ice. But it didn't stop Peter Asher from drawing a capacity crowd to the Old Town School Of Folk Music for his multi-media show, A Musical Memoir Of The 60s And Beyond. Backed by a highly polished live band, Asher, formerly half of Peter And Gordon, served up a mix of live songs like “I Go To Pieces” and “500 Miles,” photographs, and vintage clips.
There was also a good deal of humor, starting with a videotaped intro by Eric Idle, who interacted with Asher as if he was really there. Asher conceded that at least some of the audience members had no idea what they had come to see. But those of us who had caught a similar presentation at Fest For Beatle Fans - Chicago a few years back, loved the concept, and were back for more.
The first half of A Musical Memoir covered the origins of Peter And Gordon, placed in the context of post World War II England, and later, Beatlemania. Back then, Paul McCartney was dating Asher's sister, actress/TV personality, Jane, and frequently stayed at the Asher home when he was in town. The friendship between Peter Asher and McCartney resulted in the Beatle giving “World Without Love” to the fledgling Peter And Gordon to record. It became their first big hit single, and Asher still has McCartney’s handwritten lyrics.
One of the new highlights was a demo of McCartney singing “World Without Love” that Asher recently discovered among his artifacts. He recalled the day when McCartney and John Lennon spent some time practicing on a piano at the Asher home, and then invited him to be the first to hear their new song, “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” McCartney would later compose “Woman” for Peter & Gordon, under the pseudonym Bernard Webb to prove he could write a hit single without the popularity of The Beatles behind it. Asher delivered a funny running commentary on clips of Peter And Gordon on The Ed Sullivan Show and being good sports while acting silly on Hullabaloo and The Red Skelton Hour.
The second half of the show kicked off with “Lady Godiva,” as Asher recalled that he initially thought the bawdy song didn't measure up to Peter & Gordon's standards. From there, he discussed his role in The Beatles' ill-fated Apple corporation; his development as a highly sought after producer for artists like James Taylor, Diana Ross, and Linda Ronstadt; and his more recent work on film soundtracks. After wrapping up an entertaining evening with a sing-a-long for “World Without Love,” Asher met with fans to chat and sign autographs.