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When We Were Fab

The L.A. outpost of private club Soho House, a penthouse between West Hollywood and Beverly Hills, is where affluent Brits about town — including many former and current showbiz successes — like to unwind surrounded by great views of the city skyline.

We met up there with Peter Asher, a longtime Anglo-Angeleno and one of the music industry's most undersung survivors, still sprightly at 66.

The canny Asher has worn all the hats: performer (as half of Peter & Gordon) with worldwide hits during the British Invasion; producer; manager; star maker (he discovered James Taylor); club owner (he was one of the original investors in the Roxy); and even label honcho (he was vice president at Sony in the '90s).

He also was part of the Beatles' entourage: Paul McCartney dated Asher's sister Jane through the band's glory days, and used their family house as a home base. (Asher's parents, cultured and open-minded, sound like the Royal Tenenbaums of Swingin' London.)

And it is Beatles-related business that brings us to Asher on a clear L.A. afternoon: EMI has asked him to talk to the press about its current CD remastering and re-release of the Apple catalog, the albums released by the Beatles' own utopian label as the dreams of the '60s started to vanish.

"Paul began asking me, 'Would you produce records for us,' and as the scheme started to grow, he said, 'You should be head of A&R for the label!' "

Contrary to some accounts, Apple was not all fun and games. "All the people who wanted the Beatles to give them money so they could levitate, we'd say, 'Oh, go see Derek [Taylor, the press officer].' At the end of the day, when all the business of making records was done, then you'd go to Derek's office and have a cocktail and things would get loose."

When the controversial Allen Klein arrived at Apple, Asher lit out for America — and L.A. "I came here first in 1964. I was coming to Los Angeles for the first time in my life and I was an English pop star with a No. 1 record? What do you think it was like? It was insanely great. That was when sex and drugs were still good for you. Nobody found any snags."

The rest of our interview with Peter Asher will be posted October 29 on our music blog, blogs.laweekly.com/westcoastsound.

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