Peter Asher was a Beatles insider, a recording star (Peter and Gordon), Grammy-winning producer (James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt), a child actor Claudette Colbert played his mom), art gallery proprietor (that where’s John met Yoko) and friends with Elton John, Carole King, Paul McCartney (who dated Asher's sister Jane) and so many other stars.
The charming raconteur has brought his live music memoir back to the Dakota Jazz Club this week for performances on Sunday and Monday. There’s a lot of story telling, photo and video clip showing (Ed Sullivan Show, Hullabaloo, Peter with the Beatles, etc.) and some live singing (including duets with the late Gordon Waller, who appears on film).
A gracious, self-deprecating Brit who has lived in the States since the 1970s, Asher demonstrated a sense of humor that owed something to both countries. For instance, he talked about how Lennon and McCartney couldn’t agree on who should run Apple, their new record label for which Asher was head of A&R (head talent scout). Lennon favored Allen Klein, whom Asher knew to have a dubious reputation, because Klein promised to “make Apple great again.” (The Dakota audience groaned.)
Then Asher showed a clip of Eric Idle’s 1978 mockumentary “All You Need Is Cash” about the Rutles, a faux Beatles. In the film, John Belushi played Ron Decline, a parody of Klein, and one of Decline’s bodyguards was played by Al Franken, now Minnesota’s junior U.S. senator.
Asher had one other Minnesota reference. He explained that when he presented his memoir at the Dakota in 2013, he received a call from a woman at Paisley Park to come visit Prince at midnight.
“I rang the doorbell,” Asher recalled Sunday night, “and the boss himself answered. He gave me a two-hour tour.”
Calling it one of the great evenings of his life, Asher said there was a horn section recording in one room, an Esperanza Spalding video being shown in another, and different creative activities in various spaces. “He appeared to never sleep,” Asher said of the building's boss.
Asher then dedicated his Sunday show to Prince, “one of the greatest artists America ever produced.”