Doctor’s sons Peter Asher (brother of English actress Jane Asher) and Gordon Waller met in 1959 when they were pupils at London’s famous Westminster School. Discovering their musical compatibility, they teamed up as Peter and Gordon.
Harry Secombe gave them their first professional engagement – two weeks at his Pickwick Club in 1963. They also featured at The Country Guitar on London’s Tottenham Court Road.
Harry introduced the boys to Columbia’s A&R man Norman Newell, and Jane Asher’s friendship with Paul McCartney (they were dating at the time) gave Peter and Gordon access to unused or unfinished Beatles material.
In January 1964 they recorded a Lennon/McCartney number called A World Without Love. International success was assured as the song catapulted the duo to #1. They then recorded another unused Beatles song, Nobody I Know, which hit the charts in early June, reaching #10 in the UK and #12 in America.
Peter and Gordon played at New York’s World Fair in June 1964, while their third single, I Don’t Want To See You Again, bombed in Britain but reached the Top 20 in the USA. Their Just For You EP and their eponymous debut LP both became Top 20 hits.
Despite more Beatles songs they never made it quite that high again, but accumulated ten hits by 1967.
The tongue-in-cheek Lady Godiva returned them to the British Top 20 in October 1966, with the fact that it was banned as ‘indecent’ in Coventry – Lady Godiva’s hometown – no doubt helping the chart placing.
Many Peter and Gordon singles appealed more to the American market, which they exploited until parting company in September 1968. Knight In Rusty Armour, for example, was a massive hit in America but failed to register in Britain.
After appearing in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat in 1973, Gordon drifted into the unknown (he became a landscape gardener). Peter Asher became head of A&R for the Beatles’ Apple label before moving to California and using his showbiz know-how as a respected manager and producer, orchestrating the rise of Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor.
In 2005, Peter and Gordon reunited on stage in a benefit concert for the recently deceased Dave Clark Five stalwart Mike Smith. Further intermittent appearances took place until Gordon Waller sadly passed away in 2009 of a heart attack. He was 64.