Depending on how deep into the Beatles mysteries walrus hole you have dared to enter, you may or may not have discovered that the Austin Powers character from the James Bond spoof films, is based upon a figure in the Beatles entourage.
It’s true. As odd or as humorous as it may seem, Mike Myers’s Austin powers persona is based off of Peter Asher. But that is only the start of this very strange walrus hole adventure. It’s about to get weird, really weird- so strap on your Beatle wigs, and be sure your Beatlejuice is in ample supply. This is going to be a wild ride.
Groovy Baby… grooooo-vy!
Peter Asher CBE came into the Beatles world via his little sister, Jane Asher. Jane Asher was the steady girlfriend (and short-lived fiance) of Paul McCartney from 1963-1968. They began to hit it off when Shane Fenton (aka Alvin Stardust; aka Bernard William Jewry- see thenumbernine article Taking the World by Hurricane) gave Paul and Jane and friends a ride to Chris Hutchin’s home in 1963.
His father was Dr. Richard Asher who was a practitioner of sleep hypnosis. If interested, you can find his work “Respectable Hypnosis” in this published paper here. His mother, Margaret Eliot was a music teacher and born into the aristocracy through her maternal and paternal sides, both sides having titles as Earls of St. Germans. Jane Asher (and therefore Peter Asher) has claimed to be a descendant of King Richard III, offering a lock of hair to prove the king did not kill off the Plantagenet line. Source
Peter Asher, as well as his two siblings Jane and Clare were all involved in showbiz from a very early age. Coincidentally- if you believe in that sort of thing, one of Peter’s earliest roles was on a British rendition of The Adventures of Robin Hood TV series. Robin Hood’s villain of course is King John the ‘phony king of England‘ which has also been discussed on thenumbernineblog. (See how it all ‘comes together’?)
Paul McCartney actually lived in the Asher household from 1964-1966 during Beatlemania, and composed several songs in the Asher home. McCartney wrote songs for Peter Asher’s “British Invasion” duo Peter and Gordon. One of which quickly climbed the charts, World Without Love.
Smashing Baby! Yeah!
Peter Asher attended Cambridge University where he met singer/actress Marianne Faithful. In 1965, he was the best man at the wedding of Marianne and John Dunbar. (John Dunbar was discussed briefly in thenumbernine’s article on Tara Browne.) Alongside John Dunbar and Barry Miles (McCartney Biographer), Peter Asher co-owned the Indica Gallery in 1966. The Indica would also claim the responsibility for the introduction of John Lennon and Yoko Ono later that year. In 1968, Asher was put at the helm of Apple Corps A&R department, here he signed James Taylor to the Apple label and went on afterwards to produce such acts as:
James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Cher, 10,000 Maniacs, Neil Diamond, Olivia Newton-John, Diana Ross, Kenny Loggins and even Robin Williams. Source
In the 1970’s Asher co-founded the infamous night-club the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. The original birthplace of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and countless other acts as well. Source
In 1995 Peter Asher CBE became the Senior Vice President of Sony USA, which may have been a conflict of interest concerning the then half Jackson owned Beatles catalogue, the other half owned by SONY/ATV said to be worth over a billion US dollars in revenue… but, different departments right? (More on Jackson/McCartney fallout soon).
So why would this seemingly obscure figure from the 1960’s Swinging London scene be behind the inspiration for the 1990’s version of a (totally hilarious) James Bond spoof film? Did Peter just have major mojo??
Well, I’m not sure but it does seem to be the case. It is admitted as much by Peter Asher himself here in this TMZ clip. Perhaps we have to dig a bit deeper for this story.
Mike Myers and the Beatles have a strange and mysterious connection. Mike Myers’ parents were from Liverpool. During the war, his father Eric Myers was in the Royal Engineers and his mother Alice (known as “Bunny”- curious nickname for Alice?) was a ranking officer in the Royal Air Force, and later became an aspiring actress. After marrying in 1955, the couple emigrated to Toronto a year later. Eric Myers died on Nov. 22nd, 1991 from Alzheimers disease. Mike has a brother named Paul (Paul McCartney has a brother named Mike) were born in Toronto and hold dual citizenship to Canada and UK.
Perhaps most curious in this tale is an interview Mike Myers gave to GQ in 2002 during the filming of the third Austin Powers film, Goldmember. According to a story on UltimateClassicRock:
On Nov. 29, 2001, George Harrison died at the age of 58 after a long struggle with cancer. In a new interview, actor Mike Myers reveals that, earlier that day, he received a piece of fan mail from Harrison, which he says was the last letter the former Beatle ever wrote.
As Myers recounts to GQ, he was on the set of ‘Austin Powers in Goldmember,’ shooting a scene where many Hollywood stars are making a film about Powers’ life the day Harrison’s letter unexpectedly arrived. Myers had never before met or corresponded with Harrison, so he was thrilled to discover that one of his idols was a fan. He says that receiving it was “mind-blowing, dude. For the son of a Liverpudlian, a person who worships the Beatles.”
Myers shared some of the contents of the letter, which he says is “prominently displayed” in his’ home. “He says, ‘…sitting here with my Dr. Evil doll…I just wanted to let you know I’ve been looking all over Europe for a mini-you doll.’ And he says, ‘Dr. Evil says frickin,’ but any good Scouser dad will tell you it’s actually ‘friggin’ as in a ‘four of fish and finger pie‘, if you get my drift.’ He said, “Thanks for the movies, so much fun.”
The ‘Austin Powers’ and ‘Wayne’s World’ star once spoke of how much the last scene in ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ — where photographs of the group fall from a helicopter carrying the Beatles — means to him. Harrison referenced it in the letter by saying, “I’m sorry I left you on the helicopter that day, I promise I won’t do it again.”
Myers says he has since learned the backstory of Harrison’s letter, but would prefer to keep it to himself. “I can’t really speak of it,” he continued. “But it is fantastic and sad and awesome, and this is the magic that I’m talking about that I feel very grateful and privileged to be part of it.”
Boldface emphasis mine. Source
What on earth is he talking about? What can’t Myers “really speak of?”. What does the final scene of A Hard Days Night mean to him? George left him on the helicopter that day?? Very coded words in my opinion. What magic is he so privileged to be a part of exactly?
I don’t have answers to these questions. As usual, the Beatles and friends speak in allegory and coded language that we don’t seem to be privy to. Perhaps it is all innocent fun and ‘inside jokes’ that they are using to rouse each other up.
But it is curious that Mike Myers’s character, Austin Powers resembles a certain Peter Asher who is in close knit with the Beatles and friends. Austin Powers is a comedy spoof film about English espionage that uses celebrities as well as pop stars to carry the ridiculous plot line to tell the story of Austin Powers’ (aka Peter Asher’s??) life. Now, it is only said that the fictional Powers’ likeness was based upon that of Asher’s, not the plot… but how can we be so certain?? Is there more to this story than meets the eye? I think so. Not sure what exactly, but I’d be willing to bet one Swedish made penis enlarger on it. 🙂