WADENA -- Peter Asher, who once worked with members of the Beatles, has connections in the music industry that span nearly 60 years.
His star power just increased further when he connected with Wadena music lovers Mike Brunsberg and Don Niles.
The two traveled to The Dakota jazz club in Minneapolis earlier this month to attend a concert and meet with Asher at his book signing in Edina. Both men had their books signed and even snagged a photo with Asher.
The connection was all the sweeter considering Asher mentioned local teachers Mike and his wife, Jennifer Brunsberg, in his book released in 2019, “The Beatles from A to Zed.”
The Brunsbergs’ latest claim to fame comes on page 218 of the book, where they give Asher a tip on a song that matches up nicely with the letter “X.” The couple heard Asher was seeking some help on his radio show on SiriusXM, “Peter Asher: From Me To You,” and they quickly came up with a helpful suggestion.
The idea was that he use the Beatles song “I’m Looking Through You.” The reasoning was that you look through someone with an X-ray machine. Asher remembered the song well as he said he recalls watching Paul McCartney sitting in his room singing and writing the words before his eyes.
Mike Brunsberg is perhaps as big a Beatles fan as they come in these parts. Jennifer, Mike’s wife, has attended five of Paul McCartney shows with him over the years -- preferring the solo Beatles material over the group itself.
“Basically, she's a casual fan, and she's included in the Peter Asher book namely because we share the same email address,” Brunsberg said. “My teenage children, Bjorn and Johanna, also enjoy music from the '60s.”
Brunsberg, over time, has gone beyond just listening to the band. He's had concert experiences with Beatle members on a few occasions since his first introduction to the band, which sadly was at the loss of one of the members, John Lennon, when he was murdered in 1980.
“In particular, my elementary music teacher brought in some Beatle records to play and talked to us about the significant scope of the Beatles' influence upon popular music,” Brunsberg remembered. “I immediately loved the music, as did most of my close friends, and we all went home to see if our parents had “Eleanor Rigby” and other songs that we wanted to hear again. We found a few, but more significantly, I found that the radio stations at that time were playing Beatle songs almost non-stop to honor Lennon's legacy. I haven't stopped listening.”
He soon began reading and consuming all the Beatles content he could, each showing a little more about the music and men behind it.
“ … all told, I've read over 100 books about the Beatles over the years,” said Brunsberg, an English teacher and head cross-country coach at WDC.
The appeal of Asher is that he had an inside look at some of the early years of the Beatles. He lived in the same London house as McCartney for two years during the height of Beatlemania. Brunsberg grew to enjoy hearing Asher's insights and soon became a regular listener of his weekly radio program from which the book is derived.
Brunsberg said he submitted his idea for the book about two years ago and was thrilled when, a few weeks later, he heard their names and idea broadcast with enthusiasm on national satellite radio.
“As far as appearing in the book, I had an inkling that it might happen, but the odds seemed a bit slim,” Brunsberg said in an email. “I hadn't heard anything was in the works. So, to my delight, when I bought the book and saw its inclusion, the excitement was rekindled … maybe to a greater degree because of the permanence of a book.”
Wadena resident and attorney Don Niles has been a fan of the Beatles since he was a kid. When he found out that Brunsberg was also a fan, the two had plenty to talk about. It was by coincidence that Niles was gifted the Asher book from his daughter and, shortly after, he found out Asher was coming to town. He and Brunsberg quickly formed a plan to head to the Twin Cities for a meeting.
When Brunsberg strolled up to have his book signed, the icing on the cake came when Asher took a moment to “put a face” to the emailer. Asher then paused for a quick photo with Brunsberg, who happened to get a little help from his friend, Niles. Niles shared his “Yellow Submarine” neck tie so Brunsberg would have something Beatles-esque to wear with the music legend.
And the concert at The Dakota? Niles said it was an intimate gathering of people interested in hearing the stories of a man who’s been living the music his whole life. While Asher has no financial need to go on performing, he still loves to as he did when he was with his band Peter and Gordon. For Brunsberg and Niles, the performance did not let them down.