INTERVIEW: Buddy Holly PBS tribute show
INTERVIEW: Buddy Holly PBS tribute show was a 'thrill' for producer Peter Asher
When a group of performers can get together and do the kind of tribute that took place in September for Buddy Holly, it's something to rave about. And that's how Peter Asher, who is cohost, musical supervisor, audio producer and performer of the forthcoming PBS special “Buddy Holly: Listen to Me / The Ultimate Buddy Party," feels about it. The show begins airing on PBS stations around the country in early December.
"The TV show was great," Asher told us in a phone interview. "It was a brutal amount of work. Obviously in advance, I had to figure out who was doing a duet with whom, and keys and arrangements and all that stuff. I had a brilliant team working with me -- Waddy Wachtel was my bandleader. Jeffrey Alan Ross was my assistant supervisor. But it was quite intimidating, because I was the music supervisor, the producer and, of course the co-host with Chris Isaak."
Asher also had produced a tribute CD, "Buddy Holly: Listen to Me," that featured many of the performers in the show. The disc was released in September.
He said the cast had a day of rehearsals before they gathered together and taped the show with an audience at the Music Box in Hollywood. The performers included Chris Isaak, Patrick Stump, Lyle Lovett, Rau Malo, Paul Anka, Boz Scaggs, Graham Nash, Cobra Starship (which includes Asher's daughter Victoria) and Stevie Nicks. Jackson Browne, Keith Richards, Brian Wilson and Ringo Starr are also interviewed in the program.
"I'm very happy with the way it came out," he says. "There's moments in it .. the fact we got Phil Everly to actually sing in public for the first time in years. Graham Nash and I cajoled him up there. It was amazing.
"And watching Maria Elena Holly singing along with Raul Malo doing a breathtaking version of 'True Love Ways.' When he was singing 'True Love Ways' and Maria Elena was sitting there singing along to the song that Buddy wrote her as a wedding song, that's an emotional and musical high of the kind you cannot replicate. It was astounding.
"(The show) was full of musical and emotional highlights for me. If everybody else likes it half as much as I did doing it, we're ok. "
Asher also had special praise for Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy. "I think one of the people who surprised everybody was Patrick Stump. Fall Out Boy fans know what a good singer he is, but not really, 'cause he's totally amazing and has a style all his own. When he came and did 'Everyday' with the marimba and our curious little arrangement we came up with, people went crazy. Some people didn't know who he was. They were going, 'Who is that guy? God, is he good?' And I went, 'Yes, he is.'"
It's well known that Asher was one half of the '60s British Invasion singing duo Peter & Gordon who had 10 Top 40 hit records and close connections to John Lennon and Paul McCartney, but his career has gone far beyond that. He's managed Pamela Anderson, Courtney Love and the Kurt Cobain estate, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Carole King, Morrissey and others.
He twice won the Producer of the Year Grammy. His production credits include work with James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Cher, Diana Ross, David Sanborn, 10,000 Maniacs, Neil Diamond and Randy Newman. He's also been an actor, working alongside stars such as Claudette Colbert and Jack Hawkins. And Paul McCartney chose Asher to head up the A & R department of the Beatles’ Apple Records, which led to Asher's discovering and signing James Taylor to the label.
More recently, he has worked on several movie soundtracks with Hans Zimmer. These include the upcoming "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows," due in theatres December 16; "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," released on DVD on October 18; and "Madagascar 3," due in theatres in June, 2012.
Asher will bring his solo show, "A Musical Memoir of the '60s and Beyond" to the Skye in Phoenix on Dec. 11. The show is also scheduled to play in Minneapolis and San Francisco.
He says that for now DVDs of the show will be available as gifts for pledges to PBS, though he expects that DVDs will be available in general release later.
The song lineup for the TV show: