A World Without Love
“We were lucky. We got spotted playing in a club and signed up pretty quickly and then our first record was a hit.” Peter Asher (on Peter and Gordon)
Peter Asher is a Grammy award winning English musician, singer, manager and record producer. He first came to prominence in the 1960s as part of the British duo Peter and Gordon, along with Gordon Waller. The group scored several hit singles, including “A World Without Love,” “Nobody I Know,” “True Love Ways” and “Lady Godiva” before disbanding in 1968. “A World Without Love,” which was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, became a chart topper on both sides of the Atlantic. They were reunited in 2005 until Waller's death in 2009.
After the breakup of Peter and Gordon, Asher launched a successful career as manager and record producer thanks largely to his long term partnerships with James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt. He has also produced records for Diana Ross, Neil Diamond, Tina Arena, Cheer and 10,000 Maniacs, among other artists. He was the President of Sanctuary Artist Management from January 2005 until September 2006. In 2007, he joined Simon Renshaw at Strategic Artist Management.
Childhood and Family:
Peter Asher was born on June 22, 1944, in London, England, to Dr Richard and Margaret Asher. His father was a consultant at the Central Middlesex Hospital in Acton, West London, while his mother was a professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Peter was educated at the Westminster School for Boys, where he met future music partner Gordon Waller. He later studied philanthropy at King's College London. The eldest of three, Peter has two younger sisters named Jane (born April 5, 1946), an actress and businesswoman, and Clare, who worked briefly as a radio actress before becoming a school inspector. Jane was the girlfriend of The Beatles' Paul McCartney in the mid 1960s. Through this link, he and Gordon were frequently given unrecorded Lennon-McCartney songs to perform.
Peter is married to Wendy Worth. His daughter, Victoria Jane Asher (born January 20, 1984), is a member of the band Cobra Starship.
When Peter was 8 years old, he appeared in the film “The Planter's Wife” (1952) and the stage play “Isn't Life Wonderful.” He went on to appear in the films “Uncle Willie's Bicycle Shop” (1954) and “Escapade” (1957) as well as in the TV series “The Adventures of Robin Hood” (4 episodes, 1954-1957), “Colonel March of Scotland Yard” (1 episode, 1956) and “Sword of Freedom” (1 episode, 1957). He stopped acting at age 13 and did not return until almost five decades later where he appeared in an episode of “The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman” called “Mudlarking” (2006). He then acted in the comedy “Bernard and Doris,” where he starred alongside Susan Sarandon and Ralph Fiennes. Directed by Bob Balaban and scripted by Hugh Costello, “Bernard and Doris” premiered at the Hamptons International Film Festival on October 17, 2007, and aired on HBO on February 9, 2008.
Asher first met Gordon Waller (born June 4, 1945, died July 17, 2009) while attending the Westminster School for Boys and they began playing and singing together in coffee bars. Thanks in part to Asher's sister romance to Paul McCartney, the duo had the opportunity to record several songs that were written by McCartney and attributed to Lennon-McCartney. Peter and Gordon's debut single, “A World Without Love,” which was released in the U.K. on February 28, 1964, through Columbia Records and the United States on April 27, 1964, through Capitol Records, rose to No. 1 on the U.K. Singles Chart and topped the Billboard Hot 100. It was included in the duo's 1964 album of the same name. Other Lennon-McCartney's songs the duo recorded include “Nobody I Know” (1964), “I Don't Want To See You Again” (1964) and “Woman” (1966, #14 US & #28 UK). The duo also recorded the John Lennon written Lennon/McCartney song “If I Fell.”
Peter and Gordon released a single titled “I Go to Pieces” in late 1964. Written by Del Shannon, the song became a hit in the United States, where it rose to No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in February 1965. In March 1965, the duo released a popular remake of the Buddy Holly song “True Love Ways.” Their version peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was followed by another remake, “To Know Him Is To Love Him” by the Teddy Bears, re-titled “To Know You Is To Love You.” Peter and Gordon had their last hits in 1967 with “Lady Godiva” (#6 US Hot 100), “Knight In Rusty Armour” and “Sunday for Tea.”
After Peter and Gordon broke up in 1968, Asher was appointed the director of the Apple Records label. He quickly took a then-unknown James Taylor under his wings and agreed to produce the American singer-songwriter's debut solo album. The album “James Taylor” was launched on December 1968 in the U.K. and February 1969 in the U.S., but was not successful. Despite the failure, Asher believed Taylor had great potential and he quit Apple to become Taylor's manager in the United States. Their partnership would last more than several decades. After “James Taylor,” Asher produced Taylor's albums “Sweet Baby James” (1970, #3 US), “Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon” (1971, #2 US), “One Man Dog” (1972, #3 US), “In the Pocket” (1976, #16 US), “JT” (1977, #4 US), “Flag” (1979, #10 US), “Dad Loves His Work” (1981, #10 US), “That's Why I'm Here” (1985, #34 US) and “Live in Rio” (1991).
Asher also managed and produced multiple Grammy winning recording artist Linda Ronstadt. The two began their collaboration with Ronstadt's fourth solo studio album, “Don't Cry Now” (1973), which peaked at No. 45 on the Billboard 200 and No. 5 on the U.S. Country Albums charts. It was followed by “Heart Like a Wheel” (1974, #1 US & US Country), “Prisoner in Disguise” (1975, #4 US and #2 US Country), “Hasten Down the Wind” (1976, #3 US & #1 US Country), “Simple Dreams” (1977, #1 both US & US Country), “Living in the USA” (1978, #1 US & #3 US Country), “Mad Love” (1980, #3 US), “Get Closer” (1982, #31 US & #19 US Country), “What's New” (1983, #3 US), “Lush Life” (1984, #13 US), “For Sentimental Reasons” (1986, #46 US), “Canciones De Mi Padre” (1987, $42 US) and “Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind” (1989, #7 US), from which he won a 1989 Grammy in the category of Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical.
Aside from his flourishing partnership with the two aforementioned artists, Asher also produced recordings for Barbara Keith (1969's “Barbara Keith”), Jo Mama (1970's), Kate Taylor (1971's “Sister Kate”), Tony Joe White (1971's “Tony Joe White”), Tony Kosinec (1971's “Bad Girl Songs”), J.D. Souther (1975's “Black Rose”), David Sanborn (1976's “Love Songs”), and Bonnie Raitt (1979's “The Glow”). He also produced several records by Cher (1987's “Cher,” 1989's “Heart of Stone” and 1991's “Love Hurts”) and 10,000 Maniacs (1987's “In My Tribe,” 1989's “Blind Man's Zoo” and 1989's “You Happy Puppet”).
In the 1990s, Asher produced recordings for Diana Ross (1991's “Force Behind the Power”), Neil Diamond (1991's “Lovescape,” 1992's “Christmas Album.” 1993's “Up on the Roof: Songs from the Brill Building,” and 1994's “Christmas Album, Vol. 2”), Julia Fordham (1991's “Swept” and 1999's “Collection”), The Williams Brothers (1991's “Williams Brothers'), and Mary's Danish (1992's “American Standard”). He also produced recordings by Olivia Newton-John (1992's “Back to Basics” and “Olivia”), Ringo Starr (1992's “Time Takes Time”), Robin Zander (1993's “Robin Zander”), Tina Arena (1995's “Don't Ask” and 1996's “Show Me Heaven”), Randy Newman (1995's “Faust”), Chantal Kreviazuk (1997's “Under These Rocks and Stones”), Sarah Brightman (1998's “As I Came of Age”), Kenny Loggins (1998's “December”) and Boyzone (1999's “When the Going Gets Tough”). In 1995, Asher became Senior Vice President of Sony Music Entertainment. He would hold the position until 2002. After leaving Sony, Asher served as Co-President of Sanctuary Artist Management and eventually became President in January 2005. He resigned in September 2006.
In the new millennium, Asher produced records for Anna Vissi, Amanda Marshall, Aselin Debison, John Stewart, Wilson Phillips, Jane Monheit, Morrissey, Raul Malo, and Sasha and Shawna. He produced Robin Williams' “Live 2002” (2002), which won a 2002 Grammy for Best Spoken Comedy Album. Asher was also reunited with Diana Ross for the singer's “Gift of Love” (2000), “Motown Anthology” (2001) and “I Love You” (2006), Kenny Loggins for “More Songs from Pooh Corner” (2000), Neil Diamond for “Three Chord Opera” (2001), 10,000 Maniacs for “Campfire Songs: The Popular, Obscure and Unknown Recordings” (2004) and Tina Arena for “Souvenirs” (2005). Also a producer of several soundtrack albums, Asher received a 2005 Grammy nomination for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media for his work on the original soundtrack of “De-Lovely” (2004).
In 2007, Asher worked with Simon Renshaw at Strategic Artist Management. The same year, he was also reunited with James Taylor as the producer of the “Live at the Troubadour” reunion album, with Carole King and Taylor's original band. The album was recorded in 2007 and released in 2010.
Despite his busy work schedule in the world of producing and artist management, Asher was reunited with Gordon onstage in August 2005 as part of two tribute concerts for Mike Smith of the Dave Clark Five in New York City. The duo went on to perform at The Festival for Beatles Fans in 2006, the “Love-In: A Musical Celebration” and the “Flower Power” concert series at Disney's EPCOT in Florida in the spring of 2007 and 2008. They also played many times at the “50 Winters Later” celebration in February 2009. Waller, however, died of heart attack on July 17, 2009.
Grammy: Best Spoken Comedy Album (“Live 2002,” Robin Williams), 2002
Grammy: Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical (“Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind”), 1989
Grammy: Producer of The Year, Non-Classical, 1977