Rock and Roll Book Club: Peter Asher’s ‘Beatles from A to Zed’

Recently, a friend of mine posed a question: if you were booking a cover band for your wedding, which band would they cover? After thinking about it for a few minutes, I said the Beatles.

“Well,” he replied, “that’s just cheating!”

It’s true: the Beatles wrote and recorded so many classic songs, in so many different styles, that any Beatles cover band would almost have to function as more than one band. That leaves plenty of room for books about the Beatles; previously on the Rock and Roll Book Club, we’ve covered a collection of essaysa book on the Beatles-versus-Stones rivalry, and a graphic history of the band.

The Beatles from A to Zed: An Alphabetical Mystery Tour (buy now) isn’t a Beatles dictionary (there’s already one of those), a Beatles encyclopedia (there are at least five of those), or a song-by-song guide (there are at least six of those). Author Peter Asher doesn’t try too hard to justify his new book’s existence, because he doesn’t really have to: he’s Peter Asher.

If there’s not much new to learn about the Beatles in the book’s modest 250 pages, there’s a lot to learn about Asher and his role in the band’s life. He’s perhaps best-known to music fans as the Peter in Peter and Gordon: one of the signature bands of the British Invasion, with ten Top 40 hits including the chart-topping “A World Without Love” (1964), a song Paul McCartney wrote and gave away because John Lennon vetoed it as a Beatles number. In the book, Asher remembers pointing out to McCartney that the original version didn’t have a bridge; the songwriter whipped one out in eight minutes, and Asher has the handwritten lyrics with chords to prove it.

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