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Music

How Paul McCartney fuelled a chart-topping 1960s pop duo

@TylerGolsen

There was no bigger songwriter in the 1960s than Paul McCartney. Notching number one songs on both sides of the Atlantic, McCartney and his Beatles bandmate John Lennon became the most acclaimed and recognisable songwriters of the entire decade. There were even times when listeners were hearing McCartney’s music and words without even hearing Beatles songs.

That’s because McCartney was on such a hot streak during the ’60s that he began giving away songs. He gave songs like ‘I’ll Be On My Way’ and ‘I’ll Keep You Satisfied’ to Billy J. Kramer while Cilla Black got tracks like ‘Love of the Loved’ and ‘It’s For You’ from McCartney. Usually, these were discarded Beatle songs, but McCartney also occasionally did commissions, like the Mary Hopkins song ‘Goodbye’.

During the earlier moments of the decade, McCartney began dating actress Jane Asher. McCartney even moved into the Asher family home, where he shared a room with Jane’s brother Peter before moving to the attic. Asher and McCartney formed a friendship, and when Asher decided to form a singing duo with Gordon Waller, McCartney was there to supply the songs.

Peter & Gordon’s debut single was ‘A World Without Love’, credited to Lennon-McCartney but written in full by McCartney. McCartney had written the song as a teenager, with Lennon finding the opening line “Please lock me away” amusing. Neither thought the song was good enough for The Beatles to record, however, and the track remained unused until McCartney gifted it to Asher and Waller.

With a prominent Beatles connection, ‘A World Without Love’ hit number one in both the US and the UK in early 1964. McCartney continued to write songs for the duo, including the songs ‘Nobody I Know’, ‘I Don’t Want to See You Again’, and ‘Woman’. The songs McCartney wrote for the duo saw additional chart success, but none replicated the success of ‘A World Without Love’.

McCartney broke up with Jane Asher in 1968, while Peter & Gordon split the same year. The split didn’t sever McCartney’s relationship with Peter, however, with Asher becoming the head of Apple Records’ A&R department. Asher would later go on to manage singers like Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor, the latter of whom was signed to Apple during the label’s early days.