Monday, July 20, 2009

One Video Ahead: So Long, Gordon

A poignant entry in our "One Video Ahead" series, as I'm sad to report that Gordon Waller of Peter & Gordon has passed away. This news struck a particular chord with me as Peter & Gordon were one of the first British Invasion acts I collected. In keeping with British pop of the 1960s, some of their recordings were a little overproduced for my tastes, but Gordon's resonant baritone and Peter's boyish tenor complemented each other perfectly when they found the right material. Speaking of material, some of their own compositions were damn good and have been unjustly overlooked: collectors, keep your eyes and ears open for "Don't Pity Me," "Morning's Calling," and the sublimely abstract "Stranger With A Black Dove" (as well as other hidden gems I've been told about but haven't yet discovered). But they were, of course, skilled interpreters: P&G had one of their biggest and best hits with Del Shannon's "I Go To Pieces," which Shannon gave them on tour. And because Paul McCartney was dating Peter's sister Jane, Peter Asher and Gordon Waller became best known for their interpretations of McCartney's compositions "A World Without Love," "Nobody I Know," "I Don't Want To See You Again," and "Woman." (The songwriting credits on these are fascinating: most everything McCartney wrote at the time was credited to him and John Lennon, but some say Peter helped Paul complete "A World Without Love," and it's well-documented that McCartney wrote "Woman" pseudonymously to see if it would become a hit without the benefit of his famous name.) Though P&G broke up in 1968, they reunited and once again became quite active in the 2000s. At times, it was clear that Peter had aged better than Gordon, so I'm afraid the latter's death from cardiovascular disease was not entirely surprising.

And now, two P&G videos for you. One from the mid-1960s TV series "Hullabaloo," performing "Woman" with an intro from Paul Anka:

And here they are last summer on an LA radio morning show. Though it was over 40 years after their hit streak and they sound like they've weathered quite a few storms, the harmonies are still solid. Here they're performing "I Go To Pieces" and "A World Without Love":

For more information on Gordon Waller and his passing:

Original text copyright © 2009 S.J. Dibai. All rights reserved.
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