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Tossing Lines: From The Kate to Abbey Road with Peter Asher

I already miss life before The Virus, particularly our sensational local entertainment scene.

Maybe it’s because the last cultural event I attended was Peter Asher and Jeremy Clyde at The Kate in late February. It was a wonderful evening of song and stories, particularly since Asher’s life is deeply entwined with The Beatles.

The night was especially poignant for us since my wife and I had just visited London, Asher’s hometown, in September, where we meandered through an eight-hour rock and roll tour of that fabulous city’s magical musical history.

Peter Asher is an icon of the music industry. Besides performing in the 1960s with the duo Peter & Gordon, he’s been head of A&R (Artists & Repetoire) for The Beatles’ Apple Records, manager of James Taylor’s successful career, Grammy-winning record producer for the stars, and senior vice president of Sony Music Entertainment.

Being a long-time friend and devout fan of The Beatles, Asher now hosts a radio show on Sirius XM Radio’s The Beatles Channel, called “From Me To You.”

Asher was with the Beatles from the beginning when Paul McCartney lived in the Ashers’ London home for a few years while he dated Peter’s sister Jane. Paul’s third floor bedroom was next to Peter’s.

McCartney wrote “Yesterday” and other early Beatles tunes there, along with a beautiful song that Peter liked that was not being considered as a Beatles song, due to John Lennon’s disapproval, called “World Without Love.”

Paul gave the song to Asher for Peter & Gordon to record when they first signed with EMI Records. It became their first huge hit in 1964.

Asher’s well-spun stories from The Kate stage took us back to London, where we had explored the heart of British rock and roll through visits to homes, club and recording studios that produced celebrated albums.

But it was Beatle landmarks that held the highest nostalgic reverence. After peeking in the front doors of MPL Communications (McCartney Productions Ltd.), formed by Paul in 1969, we visited Abbey Road Studios and, of course, walked the famous crosswalk, or “zebra crossing,” as they call it in England.

We saw McCartney’s city home on Cavendish Avenue, near Abbey Road Studios, and viewed the Apple headquarters building at 3 Saville Row, where The Beatles’ famous rooftop concert was held in January 1969.

Next stop, Marylebone Station, a location in the film “A Hard Day’s Night”; then, Ringo’s former five-story townhouse, where other Beatles lived at various times, as did Jimi Hendrix. Paul recorded demos there for “I’m Looking Through You,” “Eleanor Rigby” and other songs.

After a drive-by of the short-lived Apple Boutique on Baker Street, we were off to King’s Road, Chelsea, where, in the 1960s, you could mingle with rock luminaries of the day as they bought outrageous fashions and hung out.

King’s Road’s Chelsea Drugstore is mentioned in the Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

We saw Asher’s home on Wimpole Street and Brian Epstein’s office building, where John Lennon made his “bigger than Jesus” remark to the media. And the London Palladium, birthplace of Beatlemania, along with Royal Albert Hall, and so much more.

Asher’s 2019 book “The Beatles From A to Zed” is a fun read, offering great personal details of the Beatles and their songwriting process. (Our letter “Zee” is pronounced “Zed” in the UK).

Surrounded by the elegance of The Kate, Peter Asher and Jeremy Clyde offered a fun evening of music, history and humor. And, having assimilated the landmarks of their past, we felt intimately linked to it all.

Let’s hope The Virus fades like a one-hit wonder, and such magical nights soon return.

John Steward lives in Waterford and can be reached at tossinglines@gmail.com.

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