I recently got the chance to have a quick interview with manager and music artist Peter Asher about ‘Troubadours: The Rise of The Singer Songwriter’. Here, Peter talks about managing James Taylor and what a Peter Asher day usually consists of…
Hey Peter. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me. ‘Troubadours: The Rise Of The Singer Songwriter’ is in selected UK cinemas right now. It’s a documentary based film chronicling the musical journey of James Taylor and Carole King during the late 60’s.
For anyone who doesn’t know who you are, you effectively found James Taylor and managed him to the successful person he is today – what was it about him that made you want to sign him in the first place?
Everything! He played guitar with the skill of someone who understood classical guitar as well as folk music – someone who had listened to Segovia as well as Bob Dylan. He had a beautiful folky voice but his phrasing was clearly influenced by Sam Cooke and Ray Charles. And then there were the amazing songs! “Something In The Way She Moves” and “Something’s Wrong” and “Sunshine, Sunshine” were among the ones I heard the first night I met James. And he came back from a vacation in Ibiza a bit later and played me “Carolina”!!
What were the ‘60’s like for you? I mean were practically at the forefront of new music at that time and everyone knew of your association with some of the historical names in music…
It was a lot of fun. At the same time, one was not necessarily aware that it was an important era – just that we were trying to change things a bit and make some good music.
In your mind, why was the Troubadour club so popular?
One could be sure of hearing some good (or at least interesting) music and of running into friends in the bar. And the waitresses were hot.
Let’s talk a bit about you Peter. You’re not just a manager, you were a singer in the 60’s with Gordon Waller – what made you want to get into the music industry in the first place? Were there any artists that inspired you to pick up a guitar and start playing?
I sang because I liked doing it, not because I wanted to get into the ‘industry”. It was fun and it impressed girls. My earliest guitar inspiration was Woody Guthrie.
You’ve had a continuous working relationship with different members of The Beatles – people continue to call them the ‘greatest band that ever lived’ – why do you think this is?
Because it is honestly true.
You’ve been a A&R rep for Apple Records – what do managers and agents look for when they’re listening to the demo tapes that makes them go ‘Yes, this is something fresh, something I can sign up’?
You never know until you hear it. I am not interested in an artist who boasts of their versatility (“I can sing anything”) – I am interested in the ones (see JT above) who have a style of their own.
If you had to choose any two of your own clients for say, Desert Island Discs – who would they be?
James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt. Still the most important clients I have ever had.
What does a Pater Asher day consist of? I’m guessing it must be different now to say 20 years ago….
Every day is different which is how I like it. Last few days: producing album in Cuba with Rodrigo y Gabriela, meeting with Eric Idle in south of France about a project, introducing “Troubadours” movie at Edinburgh Film Festival (on the train now) and then seeing the Webb Sisters perform at Glastonbury. Then home to LA to meet with Hans Zimmer re ‘Sherlock Holmes 2’.
What is currently on your I-Pod / CD player? Is it something old or something new?
Charlie Parker, Beatles, Webb Sisters, Cobra Starship, Bartok (string quartets), Imelda May, The Script and more.
Thanks for the interview!