CLEAR LAKE — British rock ’n’ roll great Peter Asher was walking around the Surf Ballroom Friday morning enjoying a cup of coffee with Gary U.S. Bonds.
“It’s very exciting being here. It’s full of rock ’n’ roll excitement,” Asher said.
Asher, best known as one half of the 1960s hit group Peter & Gordon, emceed the first night of the 2013 Winter Dance Party featuring Bonds and “Ricky Nelson Remembered” with Gunnar and Matthew Nelson.
This is Asher’s second trip to the Surf. Asher and Gordon Walker performed at the 2009 Fifty Winters Later anniversary concert.
“For one reason or another it hasn’t worked out to come back, so this year I am thrilled to be back here and it’s bigger and better than ever,” Asher said.
Asher said it is moving to come to the Surf Ballroom, the site of Holly’s last concert.
“But it is also in a way triumphant. There’s a sense in which it reaffirms all of us who believe that Buddy Holly songs will live forever. It’s a cliche. But rock ’n’ roll will never die. Let’s celebrate the music he did create in such an insanely short 18-month career,” Asher said.
“Buddy Holly wrote songs that were apparently simple. They used very simple chords that we could all play and relatively simple lyrics, even. But somehow there’s still something magically odd about them.
“He would put the chords in an odd order. He used a phrase like ‘true love ways.’ They’re all obvious words, but that’s not an obvious phrase.
“He was a brilliant composer and lyricist. That’s what it takes for songs to live on. They don’t have to be complicated . They just need to be true and remain relevant to people now.”
At a press conference Friday, Jeff Nicholas, president of the Surf Ballroom and Museum board of directors, said he couldn’t think of anyone who had done more for Buddy Holly’s memory than Peter Asher.
“He has as much passion for Buddy Holly as we do at the Surf,” Nicholas said.
“Listen To Me: A Tribute to Buddy Holly,” was produced by Asher in September 2011 on what would have been Holly’s 75th birthday, Nicholas said.
And Asher sang Holly’s music as well.
“His version of ‘True Love Ways’ was just phenomenal,” Nicholas said.
“Buddy Holly’s been important in my life in so many respects,” Asher said. “Buddy Holly was the first great singer-songwriter. He wrote songs that have outlived him and all of us as well.”
— Reporter Kristin Buehner contributed to this report.