Saturday, August 18 , 2018, 2:18 am | Fair 68º

 
 
 
 

Jeff Moehlis: A World with Peter Asher and Albert Lee

The duo will perform at SOhO on Saturday night

Peter Asher Click to view larger
Peter Asher will join guitarist Albert Lee for a performance at SOhO on Saturday. (Joe Carducci photo)

Peter Asher has such an impressive résumé that it's hard to believe that one person could've done it all.

He first came to fame as part of the British Invasion duo Peter and Gordon, whose 1964 single "A World Without Love" by Paul McCartney (attributed to John Lennon/McCartney) went to No. 1 in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Ireland.

The Beatles connection continued when he became the head of artists and repertoire for Apple Records, and in this capacity Asher signed James Taylor to his first record deal and produced his first record. When Taylor decided to move back from the U.K. to the U.S., Asher came along as his manager, and produced and contributed to Taylor's acclaimed albums in the 1970s and beyond.

Asher also became Linda Ronstadt's manager and produced a number of her hit albums, including Heart Like a Wheel, Hasten Down the Wind, What's New (recorded with Nelson Riddle) and Canciones de mi Padre (her first mariachi album).

As if that wasn't enough, he also produced albums by Cher, 10,000 Maniacs, Neil Diamond, Robin Williams and many others. And he co-founded the notable 1960s counterculture Indica Bookshop and Gallery in London, and the Roxy Theatre on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. Oh, and he was the inspiration for the look of Austin Powers.

Asher will be at SOhO on Saturday in a show with guitarist Albert Lee, who has a similarly impressive musical résumé. Tickets are available by clicking here.

Asher talked to Noozhawk about his life in music.

                                                                        •        •

Jeff Moehlis: Do you remember when you first crossed paths with Albert Lee?

Peter Asher: No, I don't actually. I heard of him before our paths crossed. We all had heard of him being a great player, and Linda Ronstadt knew his playing as well. He played with Linda from time to time. He was never in our official band on the road, but I remember seeing him sit in with Linda somewhere early on in her career, when I was just starting to manage her. So I don't remember quite when it changed from hearing about him to being a fan to getting to know him and being a friend. It was a gradual process.

JM: Going way back, do you remember what your initial reaction was when you first heard Paul McCartney's song "A World Without Love"?

PA: Yes, I thought it was a very good song. It wasn't finished. I might've overheard him playing it — you know, we were sharing the top floor of our family home at that time, so our bedrooms were next to each other. But I remember commenting that it was a good song, and Paul explaining to me that it was not finished, that The Beatles probably weren't going to record it, and it was kind of a leftover.

And that's how it remained until Gordon and I got a record deal, quite independently. We were spotted in a club and signed up in a very traditional manner. But it was when we were looking for songs for our first session that I went back and asked Paul if that song was still an orphan, and whether we might be able to adopt it, and he said yes.

JM: What are some memories of the first U.S. tour as Peter and Gordon?

PA: One of our earliest gigs was at the New York World's Fair, whenever that was — it must've been '64, I suppose — playing at the Unisphere, that skeletal metal globe. It's still there. That was the center of the New York World's Fair, and we played at that globe-y thing, at the Unisphere. There was a moat between all the seats and the stage, and all the screaming girls jumped in the moat and waded across in order to attack us on the stage. It was kind of like an early wet T-shirt contest. It was very exciting.

JM: When you first met James Taylor, did you have any sense that he would become the big star that he did?

PA: I did. I thought he would be a big star. I thought he would be very successful. I didn't know how big. I think at the time we were thinking just the folk world. So if he could sell out the Troubadour and The Bitter End for a week, that was being a big star in that world. I don't think I saw him on the cover of Time magazine, but I did think that he was unbelievably good, and I thought there would be enough people who would share that opinion that he'd do well.

JM: You've worked with a number of artists over the years. In addition to James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt, are there any others that particularly jump out at you that you're very proud to have worked with?

PA: I mean, all of them really. That's hard to say. There are no records I regret having done, so I think I'm proud of all of them. It'd be hard to pick and choose. You can't choose between Natalie Merchant or Diana Ross or Cher or Neil Diamond. I mean, it's a list of people who are astoundingly good, each in their own right. I'm very lucky in that regard. So I'm proud of all of them.

JM: You've worn many hats in the music business over the years. Is there any of those that you found most fun?

PA: I think what I find most fun in the multitude of hats ... if I had to choose ... in a way I do think it's kind of a silly question. What I like is the fact that I have been able to be a record company executive, an artist, a manager, a producer. The more I do, the more I learn. If I was restricted to one thing only, it would probably be producing records. I very much enjoy being in the studio. But I'd miss all the rest of it if I didn't do it. Now I do gigs, plus I have a radio show, plus I do all this other stuff. So what I do enjoy the most is the diversification.

Click here for the full interview with Peter Asher.

— Jeff Moehlis is a Noozhawk contributing writer and a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Santa Barbara. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his web site, music-illuminati.com. The opinions expressed are his own.

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