Gordon Waller was a school chum of Peter Asher, the brother of Paul McCartney's
mid-'60s girlfriend Jane Asher. In addition to his work with Peter and Gordon, Waller played
an indirect role in introducing singer Marianne Faithfull into the orbit of the Beatles and
the Rolling Stones. Peter went on to become a Grammy Award-winning producer of such
artists as Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor and 10,000 Maniacs.
Waller was born 54 years ago today in Braemar, Scotland, to an upper-middle-class
family. He met Asher, who came from a similar background, at the Westminster School
for Boys in London. As a singing duo, the pair developed an Everly Brothers-influenced
sound and gigged on local campuses. At first they would break school curfew to play in
clubs, but soon dropped out to concentrate on a musical career.
When Capitol signed the two, Peter's relationship with McCartney,
who was living in the Asher family home, soon proved advantageous. McCartney gave
them "World Without Love" (
HREF="http://www.sonicnet.com/artists/clip.cgi?track=%7Eh-XXXXXX%2F8122707482000a01.ra">RealAudio excerpt), a song the Beatles
had never used that he had written earlier in his career. The track sounded like an early
Beatles song, and Peter and Gordon took it to #1 on both sides of the Atlantic.
The duo also scored hits with the Lennon and McCartney songs "Nobody I Know" and "I
Don't Want to See You Again" -- both left unused by the Beatles -- and "Woman" (written
by McCartney under an alias). Peter and Gordon also had hits with covers such as
Buddy Holly's "True Love Ways" and Del Shannon's "I Go to Pieces."
In the mid-1960s, Waller indirectly set in motion a series of pop relationships when he
began dating Jenny Dunbar. Dunbar introduced her brother John to the Waller/Asher
social set, which included Jane Asher and her boyfriend, McCartney. John's wife,
Marianne Faithfull, was subsequently discovered by the Rolling Stones' manager,
Andrew Loog Oldham, who transformed her into a pop star (she later became Mick
Jagger's girlfriend). Later in the decade, John Dunbar, Peter Asher and Barry Miles
formed the fabled Indica Bookstore and Gallery, where John Lennon first met Yoko Ono.
Though Peter and Gordon's success faded by 1968, the year they broke up, their sound
was somewhat influential. When Gene Clark first asked Jim McGuinn about starting a
band, he said they should form a group like Peter and Gordon -- instead, they formed the
In Miles' 1997 biography of McCartney, "Many Years From Now," he quotes the former
Beatle: "Gordon Waller was an Elvis maniac; he did a very good impression of Elvis. He
was a lot of fun. ... It was he who encouraged Peter to jump school."
After Peter and Gordon split, Asher became A&R director for the Beatles' Apple Records,
then moved to Los Angeles. As a record producer, he helped usher in the mellow
"California rock" sound made famous by many artists he worked with, including Ronstadt
Waller issued a few unsuccessful solo singles, including "The Lady in the Window,"
before largely retreating from the music world. In August, he is scheduled to appear at a
Beatlefest in Chicago.
Other birthdays: Freddy Fender, 62, and Danny K. Brown (Fixx), 48.