Peter Anders who, with Vini Poncia wrote hits for Phil Spector and recorded together as the Videls and the Trade Winds, died on Thursday at the age of 74.
Poncia announced his passing on Facebook, saying:
With the heaviest of heart I'm saying good bye to my 'brother ' my songwriting partner and music creator of 50 years the incredibly talented Peter Anders We had much success together and forged a love and friendship that culminated with our Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame Induction in 2012 your beautiful voice will echo in my mind and heart forever/ fly high on a new 'excursion 'my brother !!Anders was born Peter Andreoli on April 28, 1941 in Providence, RI. He showed an early interest in music and started playing the ukulele at the age of five and the guitar at nine. While he originally played traditional and popular Italian songs, he became enamored with the emerging R&B and rock sounds in the mid-50's.
In 1956, while still in high school, he joined the group The Videls who sang doo wop and, the next year, convinced the group to bring in friend Poncia as a vocalist, music director and guitarist. They became popular in the Rhode Island area and had a local hit with Place in My Heart, written by Anders and group manager Jimmy Bouchard. In 1960, they finally broke onto the national charts, reaching number 73 with the Anders/Poncia song Mr. Lonely.
Peter and Vini began traveling into New York to pitch their songs and, eventually, Anders relocated to break into the songwriting business. He was taken under the wing of Doc Pomus who got him a contract with Hill & Range Music. With a contract in hand, Peter convinced Vini to quit his job in Providence and move to New York and the new writing partnership became official.
Anders and Poncia acquired an office in the Brill Building and started pitching their songs to artists, drawing the notice of Phil Spector. In the autumn of 1963 the relocated to California and became part of the Spector machine, writing two hits for the Ronettes, (The Best Part of) Breaking Up and Do I Love You?.
They also produced on occasion for Spector, including Cher's first record, Ringo, I Love You and their own music recorded under the name The Treasures.
In 1965, the pair returned to New York where they signed with Lieber & Stoeller's Red Bird label and recorded as The Tradewinds. They recorded their own song, New York is a Lonely Town, and took it to number 32 on the Hot 100. The followup record, The Girl From Greenwich Village, only made it to the Bubbling Under chart at 129 but the returned to the Hot 100 again the next year with Mind Excursion (1966 / #51).
It was also during this time that their song Harem Holiday was chosen as the theme for the Elvis Presley movie Harum Scarum.
Not wanting to waste time on the road, Anders and Poncia created a road version of the Trade Winds so they could continue to work behind the scenes. They released music as The Innocence and under the Peter Anders name, but none were hits. They did, however, score a minor hit with the Critters and Bad Misunderstanding and, in England, with Manfred Mann and You Gave Me Somebody to Love.
During the late-60's, Peter and Vini recorded an album with Richard Perry called The Anders & Poncia Album but it fails to click. They begin to drift apart as Peter got into the drug scene and, by the early-70's, Poncia has moved off to work extensively with Perry and artists like Ringo Starr (Oh My My, Goodnight Vienna), Melissa Manchester (Just Too Many People), Leo Sayer (You Make Me Feel Like Dancing), KISS (I Was Made For Loving You) and many others.
Anders moved to England where he headed up Motown's British production office but his continued dabbling with drugs saw the job end in short time. He returned to the U.S. and worked for Family Productions where he recorded one album and was a staff writer.
In 1977, he struck up a partnership with Canadian Neil Merryweather with whom he recorded a new version of Mind Excursion but that also fails and, over the next ten years, he entered rehab six times, finally finding success on his seventh trip in 1988. He dropped completely out of the music business for a variety of jobs in automobiles and pharmaceuticals.
In 1996, he was convinced to come back to music by the Tarragon label and formed a new version of the Videls with which he cuts a new album that has some regional success. Anders went on to work as a songwriter with Ritchie Cordell (Mony Mony, I Think We're Alone Now) along with other writers in his publishing company.
In the early-2000's, Peter was diagnosed with cancer which he eventually beat and used the experience to write the songs for a new album, So Far, which he recorded with a number of old associates and released in 2010.