Here is another first for 1964. Peter and Gordon are the first British performers to hit number one during this new British Invasion who aren’t the Beatles. But, not surprisingly, the Beatles had a lot to do with this song.
Peter is Peter Asher, born in 1944 in London. Gordon is Gordon Waller, born in 1945 in Braemar, Scotland. The two met while they were attending Westminster Boys School in London. They both liked music and both played the guitar, but Peter like jazz and folk music and Gordon was more into Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry. They compromised when they learned that they both liked the Everly Brothers.
Soon, they were playing in local pubs and having a good time. They were discovered one night at the Pickwick Club in London by Norman Ewell who was a recording manager for EMI Records. He asked them to come down and audition for the label. Now the only problem was, they didn’t have any original material that they could use for the demo.
So, Peter approached a friend of his who was dating his sister, Jane. The friend’s name was Paul McCartney. By this time, the Beatles were big business in Britain and Paul was busy writing lots of songs, some the Beatles used and some they didn’t. “A World Without Love” was one of the songs that the group didn’t think was right for the Beatles. So, Paul offered the song to Billy J Kramer. Kramer had recorded several songs written by McCartney and Lennon, and he was managed by Brian Epstein who also managed the Beatles, but he also rejected the song. So, Paul gave the song to Peter Asher.
“A World Without Love” was the first number one song written by Lennon/McCartney that was not recorded by the Beatles. (As has been explained, even though Paul wrote the song, all of their music was credited to Lennon/McCartney.) It was the only number one Peter and Gordon would have, although they hit the Top 40 nine more times between 1964 and 1967 when the two of them broke up. The Beatles never recorded “A World Without Love,” although Paul did record the song himself. That recording was never released and Peter holds the original pressing of the record, something which I imagine is worth quite a lot of money. You can find a 30 second version of the song by Paul McCartney on Youtube which sounds like it was recorded at home with amateur equipment.
Peter and Gordon didn’t sing together again until 2005, when they reunited for a concert in New York City as a tribute to Mike Smith of The Dave Clark Five. Peter spent his life as a record producer and an A&R guy for Apple Records. Gordon tried a solo career, but that didn’t work out too well, so he turned to acting and spent his life performing on stage and in movies. Gordon Waller died of a heart attack on July 17, 2009 in Norwich, Connecticut. Peter Asher currently resides in Venice, California.
“A World Without Love: debuted on the pop charts on May 16, 1964 and stayed at number one for one week.