Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A world without Gordon Waller

I was unaware a key member of the British Invasion had left us until I read his obituary in Tuesday's NY Times.

Gordon Waller, half of the hit singing combo Peter and Gordon, died recently of cardiac arrest in Norwich, Conn. He was 64.

Peter and Gordon struck on a brilliant formula for success: Take songs written by Paul McCartney that the Beatles didn't record, and use rich vocal harmonies to turn them into hits. It didn't hurt that Asher's sister, the actress Jane Asher, was dating McCartney at this time. Or that they were able to snare a contract with Capitol Records.

They had good songs to work with, indeed, and their floppy hair, proper attire and good lucks befitted the British music wave. But Peter Asher and Gordon Waller deserve credit for their strong vocal arrangements, which were on par with the Everly Brothers.

Anyone growing up in that era could instantly recite the lyrics to "World Without Love'', which topped the charts in June 1964:

Please lock me away
And don't allow the day
Here inside
Where I hide
With my loneliness
I don't care what they say
I won't stay in a world without love

Here was the Billboard Top 5 on June 27, 1964:

1. World Without Love, Pete and Gordon
2. I Get Around, Beach Boys
3. Chapel of Love, Dixie Cups
4. My Boy Lollipop, Millie Small
5. People, Barbra Streisand

Little-known fact: Early in their London club days they called themselves Gordon and Peter. That just wouldn't have worked.

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