Introducing Peter and Jeremy
Asher and Clyde Join Forces with Songs and Stories from the British Invasion
The British Invasion is known for a slate of mop-topped bands of four or five cheeky lads playing great melodies often based on American influences. But among the lot of hitmaking groups, two duos also created a lasting legacy of their own. Peter and Gordon and Chad and Jeremy were often confused with each other due to their astoundingly similar physical appearances, fashion sense and even choice of guitars.
Both had worldwide hits and with a comparable career-path, and both reformed in the early 2000's. But now with the death of Gordon Waller a decade ago and the recent retirement of Chad Stuart, a new duo has been created. Peter Asher and Jeremy Clyde are now on the road in a duo storytelling format, offering historical anecdotes and musical highlights from two separate careers of the mid-'60s.
Asher, who spent the '70s as producer/manager of James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt among others, remains a creative force with a slew of varied projects in the works including collaborations with Hans Zimmer on soundtracks and a recurring radio show on Sirius FM. INsite spoke with the gregarious musician during a recent early morning call from his home in Southern California.
The new duo with Jeremy Clyde is a pleasant¬†surprise.
Well I've known him forever. People would confuse Peter and Gordon with Chad and Jeremy all the time. The tall, handsome one sings the low part and the short, nerdy one with glasses sings the high part, it was sort of weird. We were constantly being congratulated for each other's achievements. When they would do something we never did, like being on Batman or The Dick Van Dyke Show, people would see us in the elevator the next day and go, 'Well done!'
How'd the current pairing happen?
Well, with Gordon being dead for, goodness, over ten years now, and Chad had decided to retire, it just seemed sort of unavoidable that we should consider it. We get to do two sets of hits and double the amount of stories, name-dropping and everything else. We were both actors as well, so we're both quite comfortable on stage, swapping stories back and forth. Now it's a bit different because we've gotten confident enough to go in slightly different directions every night.
Your last visit to town was with Albert Lee, also swapping great songs and stories. You obviously enjoy the duo format.
I do. You see, I've never really been in a 'band,' besides maybe a skiffle group. I'm sure it would be fun but I've also seen bands get in horrible rows. Of course, duos can do that too. They really led the way in that regard, as it is with every sort of duo regard. I enjoy singing harmony because I've never thought of myself as a lead singer.
You mentioned the career parallels and your duo histories overlap almost perfectly.
Yes, I'm 74 and Jeremy is 76, and as I say it, it sounds bizarre, but he was a little bit ahead but it's all very close. We certainly coincided. Their career was concentrated mostly in America where ours was back-and-forth. They ended up living in California which is why they did more work here than we did. We were spending as much time in England as here.
Tell us about the impact of the British Invasion from the inside. Americans obviously know it from the consumer standpoint. But for an artist, it must've been a crazy whirlwind of everything at once.
It was very exciting. Of course, at that age, you tend to take things for granted. 'Oh great, we've got all these gigs. Oh, we got a record deal? Well, that's nice. Oh, it went to number one?' You don't realize at the time that you're beating, you know, the odds of a hundred million to one. What was particularly exciting to us is we grew up idolizing American music and America in general. It became identified in our minds with the extraordinary music that we loved and maybe took even more seriously than Americans did then. On top of that, to go there and be chased around the streets of New York by screaming teenage girls was fabulous!
It's always fun to remember that you were soaking up our culture as we were looking to the British Invasion musicians with such¬†awe.
Right! I think we got away with murder because of our accents. The thing to me about the whole British Invasion is it consisted of us falling in love with your music and your culture in general. Then kind of learning it, tweaking it ever-so-slightly and then selling it all back to you. It was amazing. But the thing about the British Invasion is, it was 90 percent Beatles and 10 percent all the rest of us all put together. There'd been some British hits before, of course, but none of them were artists so amazing that they took over the world and opened it up for¬†everybody.
You're particularly unique in that you saw the arc of The Beatles from the inside, or as close as one could get at the time.
Yes, to some extent. No one really knows what it was like to truly be inside that band. The four of them used to talk about the fact that nobody but the four of them could really understand what being a Beatle really meant.
Did you get a glimpse the machinations of the Lennon-McCartney songwriting process?
Of the process itself? None. But I did hear songs half-finished sometimes and then the next day they'd be finished. You know, in all those songwriter movies there's that scene with someone sitting at the piano going, 'Um, how should this go?' I never saw that with them. I think songwriting is essentially a pretty private process, sometimes shared with your co-writer but usually not with anybody¬†else.
But obviously you learned a great sense of melody just from playing those songs over the¬†years.
Of course. When you hear a song that's really good, you listen and go, 'Wait, how did they do that?' That's the way The Beatles started out, learning all the songs of their heroes and figuring out how it was all done.
You and Jeremy have a great catalog to look back on for the live show, but do you think you will ever record new material?
We did add an Ed Sheeran song to the show "Thinking Out Loud". It makes references to things like, when I'm 70 I'll still love you. He was around 25 years old when he wrote it. 'When I'm 70' referred to an infinitely far-off time for him. I thought by doing the song we could take on a whole new perspective for someone who 70 is in the rearview mirror. We went in the studio and recorded it. It hasn't been released yet, but we'll do it in the live show.
I know you always have a ton of projects on the¬†backburner.
I still love being in the studio more than anything. At this point you have to keep reminding people that you aren't deaf or dead, you're still around. 'What we need is somebody like Peter Asher, but for now.' So you have to kinda go, 'Well I'm still here!'
Peter and Jeremy play 8 p.m. on Monday, January 28 at City Winery. For more information, please visit citywinery.com/atlanta.