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Gordon Waller dies at 64; half of the '60s British singing duo Peter & Gordon

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Gordon Waller, half of the popular 1960s British singing duo of Peter & Gordon, who shot to the top of the charts in 1964 with "A World Without Love," has died. He was 64.

Waller, who lived in Ledyard, Conn., died early Friday morning at William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich, Conn., a hospital spokesman said.


FOR THE RECORD:
Gordon Waller obituary: The obituary of singer Gordon Waller in Tuesday's Section A said he is survived by his second wife, Jen. She is his third wife. His second wife is Georgiana Steele-Waller. —


He had gone into cardiac arrest before being taken to the emergency room, according to the official Peter & Gordon website, www.peterandgordon.net.

"Gordon played such a significant role in my life that losing him is hard to comprehend -- let alone to tolerate," Peter Asher, Waller's singing partner, said in a statement.

Dubbed "the Everly Brothers of the British Invasion," the harmonizing, acoustic guitar-playing Peter & Gordon had a transatlantic No. 1 hit with their 1964 debut single, “A World Without Love.”

The song was written by Paul McCartney, who was dating Asher's sister, Jane, at the time.

Two more McCartney-penned hits, credited to Lennon-McCartney, followed: "Nobody I Know" and "I Don't Want to See You Again."

Another hit song, "Woman," was written by McCartney under the pseudonym Bernard Webb to see how one of his songs would fare without the Lennon-McCartney credit. (It peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard chart in 1966.)

As part of the British Invasion, Peter & Gordon appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show," "Shindig" and "Hullabaloo." Among their other hits were "I Go to Pieces," "True Love Ways," "Lady Godiva" and "Knight in Rusty Armour."

After nine Top 20 records (three of them gold), the duo broke up in 1968.

"Peter & Gordon were the essential U.K. duo of the British invasion," said Howard Kramer, curatorial director of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. "They were cool, their records were great, and the songs were memorable."

Waller, he added, "was a lovely man; a very sweet, gentle guy."

After Peter & Gordon broke up, Asher became head of artists and repertoire for the Beatles' record company, Apple Records; he later founded Peter Asher Management.

Waller, who continued to pursue a solo career, played the Pharaoh in the musical "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" at the Edinburgh Festival in 1971.

He also appeared in the play in London. He later launched his own music publishing company.

Waller was born June 4, 1945, in Braemar, Scotland. He met London-born Asher at Westminster School in London.

"Our voices are quite different, Gordon's and mine, but we tried singing together experimentally and we found that we could achieve this very nice harmony," Asher told the Sacramento Bee in 2006.

When they began playing in pubs and small clubs, they initially were known as Gordon and Peter.

They were playing an engagement at the Pickwick Club in London when Norman Newell of EMI records heard them. They were quickly signed to the label.

In 2005, Peter & Gordon reunited to perform at a benefit for a hospitalized Mike Smith of the Dave Clark Five, and they continued to perform occasionally together.

They had a number of engagements lined up over the next several months at the time of Waller's death.

"Gordon remains one of my very favorite singers of all time, and I am still so proud of the work that we did together," Asher said in his statement. "I am just a harmony guy, and Gordon was the heart and soul of our duo."

On his website, Waller described his time with Peter & Gordon, which included touring with the Beatles, his website as "some of the happiest moments of my life."

He is survived by his second wife, Jen; two daughters from his previous marriage, Phillipa and Natalie; a granddaughter; and his sisters, Diana and Annie.

dennis.mclellan @latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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