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This blog is for English actress, cakemaker and writer Jane Asher, with many pictures and accurate information of one of the most beautiful rock muses from the 20th century.

Friday, 24 June 2016

1964 Special: Jane and Peter interviewed by Alan Freeman

1964 - Jane and Peter Asher at her home interviewed by DJ Alan Freeman, for the February 1965 issue of '16 Magazine'.





How Paul has changed Jane's Life.

A heart-to-heart talk with the most envied girl in the world. 
By Alan Freeman, England's top deejay. 

EVERY EVENING after school is out, two young girls stand for hours on the corner of London's fashionable Wimpole Street. One is tall, the other tiny. Many an evening on my way home from the BBC I've noticed them and wondered: Who are they? What are they waiting for?
Over the weekend I found myself keeping the same vigil this time at my own front door. For it was then I discovered I was waiting for the same people as those young fans. If you're still guessing, the answer is Jane Asher and her brother, Peter. Jane's an actress, not a singer, but she's one of the most important trend-setters in and around the world of pop. Pin-sharp gray suit, beacon-bright red hair, cheeky freckles and a cool kooky sense of humour. that's Jane. Those kids on the corner spend their time hoping for a glimpse of Jane with her steady swain, Beatle Paul McCartney, and Peter. The Asher twosome are a rarity in our business. A brother and a sister with different careers, but helping each other to stardom.


The coffee was already perking as they came through the door. But Jane smilingly shook her head at my cream cakes. Not that I blame her – that figure of hers is worth watching.
Shrewd common sense is typical of Jane and Peter Asher. Their father is a doctor, their mother a musician. Neither of them has been carried away by theur success in show business.
"Jane's always been interested in music," Peter said. "She plays flute and guitar. So we can both help and criticize each other in a friendly way."
Peter, at 20, is two years older than Jane. He has the same flaming red hair, but his quiet manner contrasts with her bouncy enthusiasm. Peter and Gordon (that's Gordon Waller, his school chum and partner) took over the Beatles' No. 1 chart-spot with their first disc. But what few fans know is that after making that record, Peter was faced with the toughest choice of his life – sticking to show business or going back to his studies at London University.
"His brain is much better than average," Jane Said, looking proundly at him across her coffee cup.
"Oh, come on," her brother grinned. "Honestly, though, it's a drag when people come up to you and say, "Aren't you wasting your education playing pop?' This life is part of my education. Okay, I was studying for a degree in philosophy. It sounds horribly crummy if I say the university has helped me to think – but I'm not sure it's much good to me when I'm playing one-night stands."
Peter and Jane were luckier than most. They avoided the usual showdown with father and mother when they announced they were going to be entertainers.
"Dad would have liked us both to be doctors," Jane said. "But he didn't mind when we didn't take it up. Mother is a coposer and she teaches as well. She feels the pop life is a it funny. But she gets annoyed when some of her pupils go snobby and think they're very hip by saying pop is terrible."
Peter nodded.
"Jazz knocks her out with its technical proficiency, particularly when I introduce her to Bob Cooper and things like that."
At Westminster School, however, the biggest obstacle in the path of Peter and Gordon was a ig iron gate. Gordon was a boarder, Peter a day student.


The afternoon was getting muggy, so I got up and put some cool music on the hi-fi. Jane closed her eyes and relaxed while Peter told me another of the irones which seem to crop up his life.
"Well," said Peter, "we started singing and playing guitar together. At that time Gordon was a big Elvis devotee. He sang like him  and even looked like him. We used to play at concerts in school. We even went in for the chamber music competition once with a Shadows-type group."
But life outside beckoned with a glitter. There was money to be made – if only Gordon could get out at night. Curb-crawling like a Chicago gangster, Peter would drive up to the school gate at ten o'clock ever night and Gordon would climb over.
"Gordon used to be pretty bushed after working all night, and often it was quite a climb for him. One night he hurt his foot badly on one of the iron spikes and we had to pack it for a bit."
Then they landed a stint at a favourite rendezvous of London show-biz folk, the Pickwick Club.
"We'd just left school and we were very nervous," Peter said. "We were twanging away when we noticed there was this man who wasn't just hearing us. He was actually listening to us. We said he must be somebody important because he was so shiny. He had this marvelous shining suit and he looked very big-time. So we played all the good songs we knew, and he bought us a drink and asked if we'd made a record."
The shining man was Norman Newell, maker of myriad disc hits by Shirley Bassey, Danny Williams, Alma Cogan and Matt Monro.
"A week later we made a test record. We sang two or three folk songs. He said, 'Great – very good sound.' And there and then he gave us a five-year contract."


The hi-fi slid to a stop and Jane opened her eyes. "Mmm," she murmured, stretching luxuriously. "It's nice to have a day off, Alan."
I knew how she felt. Take it from me, the atmosphere of a recording studio is like an ice-cream parlor compared with the heat and hammering of a film set. And Jane had plenty of that while she was making The Masque Of the Red Death, which brought her such great praise from critics in the States. Masque also had its side effects for Jane. Recently, an American deejay blithely announced that Jane was marrying the director of the movie, handsome Roger Corman. Of course, there's not a shred of truth to this and Jane assures each and every one of you that Roger is definitely not the man in her life.


For Jane the cinema and the theatre are not just a lark. They are her whole life.
"I've never been really satisfied with anything I've done," she said. "I don't think anyody should e. We've been acting on and off since I was five and Peter was seven. We did six or seven Robin Hood episodes on television together and in 1956 Peter was one of the boy actors of the year."
I asked Jane her great ambitions.
"In the theatre," she said, "to play Shakespeare. I was offered two years at Stratford, but it would have meant leaving so many things that mattered to me – friends ... and everything."
She didn't go deeper but I'm sure I know what she meant.
"My life is not in pop but I'm constantly surrounded by it" she said. "For one thing, people always want me to make a record. I'd only make one if I were an outstanding singer, really remarkable. but since I'm not, I don0t want to do it. If I did, and the record did get anywhere, people would say it was only because I was Peter's sister. Or because..."
She didn't finish it. She didn't have to. 


"What do you want for yourself, personally?" I asked.
"The same as every other single girl, alan. To eventually get married and have children. nothing unusual."
Jane is very proud of her progress with classical guitar, but she blushed when Peter said with brotherly bluntless:
"She's just ike me. You don't practice enough, do you?"
The Beatles have a great German buddy – Klaus [Woorman] – whom they met in Hamburg. He lives over here now, and boy he handle the old strings!
"Have you heard Klaus play?" I said.
"Oh, I think he's absolutely terrific," she said. "Except...?"
"Excet what?" I goaded.
"Except he won't practice enough. I met him the other night and Klaus told me so himself. Never mind, I'll keep at it. Maybe one day I'll get into the Top Ten with my guitar. But it certainly won't be as a singer. Or because I spend my time with succesful people."
She winked affectionately at Peter.
To the many guitarists among you, here's a Beatles tip I picked up from Peter. "A lot of people think you need all this Futurama equipment on a guitar to get these great twangy effects at the end of a number. You can get it by just pressing down the string with practically anything metal. It gives you a marvelous gee-doinnngg! In fact, one of the best notes the Beatles ever played in a record, they got by using a cigarette lighter on the strings. It was the handiest bit of steel they could find at the time."


Jane looked at her watch – a flat, thin, man's model on a wide strap. This is still a very chic fashion in The Village, as the Asher's home territory of Marylebone is called.
"I'm sorry, Alan. We've got to e going. It's een a great talking."
On the way down I asked Peter and Jane about those two kids who stand waiting near their house.
Peter blanched. "Them? I don't understand them at all. Sometimes we've been doing shows out of town and I'd notice them in the audience. We'd leave at the end and dive home directly. And they'd be there at the house before us. I don't know how they do it."
As they waved goodbye from their car window I recalled one of the nicest things Peter had said during the whole afternoon. "What the Beatles have done for pop music is mainly by being such interesting people and being themselves."
I felt exactly that about Peter and Jane Asher.

Photos 1 to 4) David Redfern/Redferns via Getty Images.
Photos 5, 7, 8 & 9) Lady Jane group at yahoo!
Photos 6 & 10, and article) The Gilly tumblr blog. '16 Magazine' February 1965 issue.

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