A world without Peter Asher would be missing a lot of music.
In 1964, Asher, then half of the British duo Peter and Gordon, scaled the top of the pops in 30 countries with "A World Without Love."
"It was amazing," Asher said in a public television interview. "But you take things for granted when you’re young, of course. You make a record and it goes to No. 1. You go, ‘Oh, great. It became a hit. Excellent. Let’s go and enjoy it.’ And we did.”
Best of all, “A World Without Love” took Asher and Gordon Waller from drab old England to the United States.
“We were thrilled to death,” Asher said. “Because America, to us back in England then in the ’60s, was the land of our dreams.”
After the ’60s, the London-born Asher moved to Los Angeles. Becoming a successful producer and manager, his clients included James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Joni Mitchell and Carole King.
Asher will perform and tell stories from his many years in music on Friday, Jan. 11, at the Manship Theatre with his show, “A Musical Memoir of the ’60s and Beyond.”
Asher also shares his memories via his Sirius XM Beatles Channel show, “From Me to You,” which he launched in 2017.
Of course, Asher launched his career with “A World Without Love,” a tuneful lament composed by Paul McCartney.
Asher’s connection to McCartney and the Beatles dates to May 1963. That’s when McCartney began dating Asher’s younger sister, Jane, an 18-year-old actress and panelist on the British TV show “Juke Box Jury.” By invitation of the Asher siblings’ mother, McCartney soon moved into a small room in the Asher family’s attic.
By 1963, Peter and Gordon had already been playing at school parties and clubs. Searching for young talent during the crest of Beatlemania, EMI signed the duo to a recording deal.
“At that point, Paul had moved into our family home,” Asher said. “I got to know him pretty well and heard some songs that he was working on. After we got our deal, I remembered this song that was unfinished, ‘World Without Love,’ that he’d played for me.”
Asher asked his housemate if Peter and Gordon could record “A World Without Love.” McCartney was delighted to oblige. His fellow Beatles John Lennon and George Harrison didn’t like the song. McCartney has said: “I came in and said, ‘Listen to this song, fellers. ‘Please lock me away … ’ And everyone laughed.”
Peter and Gordon’s Top 20 songs include three more McCartney pieces: “Nobody I Know,” “I Don’t Want to See You Again” and “Woman.” The duo also charted with American singer Del Shannon’s “I Go to Pieces” and the novelty item “Lady Godiva.”
In 1968, Asher, a former child actor, embarked on his third show business act. As chief of artists and repertoire at the Beatles’ Apple Records, he signed the young American James Taylor.
“When I first heard James, everything about him was different,” Asher recently told The Daily Press. “His voice had the smooth, kind of homely appeal of a folk singer, but he was singing Sam Cooke licks with an extraordinary degree of soulfulness. On top of that, he was writing these extraordinary songs that I’d never heard anything like, lyrically and melodically.”
Asher produced Taylor’s debut album for Apple. He’d fallen in love with music production during the first Peter and Gordon recording session.
“I loved the fact that the producer got to tell the musicians, who were better than us, what to play,” he said.
In 1969, Asher resigned from Apple after changes at the company ended its originally altruistic philosophy. Taking Taylor with him, he produced the singer’s second album. Released by Warner Bros. Records in 1970, “Sweet Baby James” was a major hit.
Asher carried on, producing recordings by Ronstadt, Cher, Morrissey, Ringo Starr, Diana Ross, Billy Joel, Neil Diamond, Robin Williams and many more.
His productions earned 37 gold records, 22 platinum awards and 14 Grammy Awards. In 1977 and 1989, he received producer of the year Grammys.
Asher began performing with Waller again in 2005 following a 38-year hiatus. Since Waller’s death in 2009, Asher has performed solo and in a duo with Jeremy Clyde, formerly half of that other British duo from the ’60s, Chad and Jeremy.
Asher’s recent production work includes Ed Sheeran, Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers and the duo of Steve Martin and Edie Brickell.
In 2015, Queen Elizabeth II added another honor to Asher’s many accolades, naming him a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
Peter Asher: 'A Musical Memoir of the ’60s and Beyond'
7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11
Manship Theatre, 100 Lafayette St.