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`The Beatle who bludged my fags'

BEN WATSON
BEST MATES: Keith Wilkinson with a signed picture of his best friend, the late Gordon Waller, who supported The Beatles on their first US tour.

Paul McCartney was a bit tight in the early 60s and used to bludge cigarettes from Devonport resident Keith Wilkinson.

Mr Wilkinson says The Beatles frontman would write "IOU one fag" on his cigarette packets frequently.

The former Londoner's best friend Gordon Waller was better known as one half of the Peter and Gordon singing duo of the swinging 60s.

Peter Asher's sister actress Jane Asher was Paul McCartney's girlfriend.

Mr Wilkinson was with Gordon at the Asher family home in London one day in 1963 when Paul McCartney came rushing in with a mix of The Beatles first album for Jane and them all to hear.

It was a rough mix from the engineer and still had a bit of work to be done, he says.

"Those were the crazy old days," he says.

Mr Wilkinson says Paul McCartney spent a bit of time with Peter and Gordon and wrote them several number one hits including World Without Love.

The duo was also supporting artists on The Beatles famous first tour of the United States in 1964.

Mr Wilkinson left his best mate and the "fizzing action" to move to New Zealand in 1964.

He worked as a record executive for RCA, Festival Records and Penny Farthing Records and met a lot of interesting people over the years like The Eagles and The Doobie Brothers, Mr Wilkinson says.

He was responsible for launching ABBA in New Zealand.

"I was very lucky, it didn't feel like work," he says.

Mr Wilkinson crossed paths with Gordon many times in New Zealand and London over the years.

They last saw each other in Devonport around six weeks before Gordon died of a heart attack on July 17, 2009.

Mr Wilkinson says he was feeling a bit sentimental on the second anniversary of Gordon's death.

"I loved him like a brother," he says.

Last Updated: 07/26/11 08:51
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News Summary

The former Londoner's best friend Gordon Waller was better known as one half of the Peter and Gordon singing duo of the swinging 60s. Peter Asher's sister actress Jane Asher was Paul McCartney's girlfriend. Mr Wilkinson was with Gordon at the Asher family home in London one day in 1963 when Paul McCartney came rushing in with a mix of The Beatles first album for Jane and them all to hear.