Peter and Jeremy’s Show at the Strand Brings The British Invasion in Focus
Imagine that you have two legendary uncles you haven’t seen in decades. Suddenly they arrive at your doorstep, and you stay up all night as they regale you with jaw dropping stories of lives lived fully. And those stories turn out to be beyond all you’ve imagined and wondered about them all those years.
Peter Asher of the British Invasion group Peter and Gordon has only a pinch of a British accent today. He moved to L.A. 50 years ago to manage the then fledgling artist James Taylor. Jeremy Clyde of Chad and Jeremy still speaks the Queen’s English. Today he acts in the PBS drama Downton Abbey. It’s the hits like “Yesterday’s Gone” that drew an audience in Hudson Falls to their show Thursday night (March 5th), but those songs were mere footnotes to the stories they told. These are not two old-timers dusting off their golden oldies for geriatrics reliving their long-lost youth. Assuredly, that element is there, but it’s the backstories that are the charm of the show.
A photo of a young Peter on a ledge outside his fourth-floor bedroom window at 57 Wimple St. in London circa 1962 flashes on the screen behind the duo. Peter explains that the bedroom next to his was his sister Jane’s. And the room next to hers was Paul McCartney’s. A music journalist, Jane had become Paul’s girlfriend after meeting him on assignment to review a Beatles concert as “Love Me Do” was climbing the charts. Peter plays a homemade tape recording of Paul singing “World Without Love” that he’d just written. It would become Peter and Gordon’s first and biggest hit in 1963.
Peter reads a paragraph from singer Maryanne Faithful’s biography about her fling with Jeremy that ends with an exclamation point. The sex was great! I ask Jeremy after the show if he agrees with her assessment. “A gentleman never tells,” he says, trying not to smirk.
The cliché is that those were simpler times. “Anyone who remembers these songs is too old to remember anything,” Peter told his rapt audience. So, he put the lyrics of “Yesterday’s Gone” on the screen, and we all sang along to each highlighted line. The show proved that they weren’t simpler times at all. The ’60s and the British Invasion were an era when music, art, fashion and lifestyle were exploding. In a pre-concert VIP meet and greet, Peter recalled meeting actress Sharon Tate on a cruise shortly before she was murdered by Charles Manson. I told him I ran the story of her death the Morning World News Roundup I edited in Vietnam about the time we landed on the moon. Nothing simple about any of it.
Peter and Jeremy sang most songs while playing acoustic guitars with an accompanying pianist on: “True Love Ways,” “All Shook Up,” “Lady Godiva,” “I Go to Pieces,” “Willow Weep for Me,” “I Don’t Want to See You Again,” “Distant Shores,” “As Tears Go By,” five songs from Jeremy’s Bottom Drawer Sessions, “Yesterday’s Gone,” “A Summer Song,” “A World Without Love,” and an encore of Carol King’s “You’ve Got A Friend.”