Peter Asher On The Beatles First US Visit: They Were ‘Distinctly Thrilled’ About Visiting America
Legendary musician/producer Peter Asher has had a close connection with The Beatles since the early days of his music career with Peter and Gordon. Not only was Peter’s younger sister Jane the longtime girlfriend of Paul McCartney, but McCartney actually lived at Peter’s house and at one point the two shared the top floor of his family home.
Peter shared a fascinating story of when John Lennon came over to the house to work on a new song with Paul. He explains that his mother was a music professor at the Royal Academy up the road, but also had a small music room in their basement to give private piano lessons.
“Paul would use that room to write in if he wanted to borrow a piano, and there was one particular time…when John came over and they were down there for a couple of hours,” Peter explained. “Paul then stuck his head up the stairs and asked if I wanted to come down and hear the song they just completed…they sat side by side on the piano bench, interestingly, there were no guitars in the room, and they played ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ for the first time anywhere.”
Peter remembers the moment the Fab Four earned a No. 1 hit in America and were later invited to make their U.S. television debut on the Ed Sullivan Show. Peter says that the group knew what a big deal being a guest on Ed Sullivan was, but the most alluring part of the offer was being able to go to America.
“It was something we all dreamt of doing…this was a distant land that we knew from television and movies that going to was difficult, expensive and rare,” said Peter. “The minute they knew they were going to get to go to America, I remember how distinctly thrilled they were, both by their success and by the sheer fact they get to go there in real life.”
Neither The Beatles or Peter could imagine the frenzy the group would cause in the states when they arrived.
“Clearly it would be an exhilarating and astonishing experience to go to America for the very first time and then be met by crowds of screaming girls. What could be better?” he laughed.
Listen to more memories about The Beatles in our full interview with Peter Asher below.