Our 2005-2006 interview with PETER NOONE has become one of the most talked-about pieces we've ever done in FORGOTTEN HITS. It has since generated literally THOUSANDS of emails, a number of follow-up radio interviews, publication as a 4-part series in the U.K. '60's Music Magazine THE BEAT and, after original HERMAN'S HERMITS Drummer BARRY WHITWAM spoke out against us and PETER for what HE said was misrepresenting the TRUTH about the band, a seemingly never-ending wave of controversy. And it's all reared its ugly head yet again now that BARRY and HIS version of THE HERMITS is coming to The United States for a few appearances and interviews. (It seems to be the interview that just WON'T go away!!!) Follow-up interviews between BARRY WHITWAM and SAM TWEEDLE of PopCultureAddict.com and MASON RAMSEY of RockAndRollHeaven.net have only helped to fuel the fire ... so we figured that this would be the PERFECT time to run the ORIGINAL interview piece HERE ... on our web page ... in its entirety ... EXACTLY as it ran the first time ... along with several of the FOLLOW-UP pieces that have kept FORGOTTEN HITS and PETER NOONE seemingly joined at the hip for these past few years. Now YOU can be the judge of just EXACTLY what was said ... and by whom ... (and what was actually MEANT by it!!!) Thanks to these on-going conversations, PETER NOONE has become a regular contributor (and a frequent topic!) in our FORGOTTEN HITS Newsletter as well. If you're not already a subscriber, just drop me an email and ask me to put you on the list.
(You just don't know what you've been missing!!!)
FORGOTTEN HITS INTERVIEWS PETER NOONE
KENT KOTAL / FORGOTTEN HITS: As I recall, prior to HERMAN'S HERMITS, you were fairly well-known as a child actor from a British Television Series.
PETER NOONE: I was in a British TV series called CORONATION STREET and I played the son of one of the leads so I got lots of attention. The show was Number One in the UK and incredibly still is, without me in it since 1961.
FH: Tell me a little bit more about your role on CORONATION STREET ... How were you first signed on to this series? Had you done other acting or commercials prior to this? Was making it as an actor a goal for you at such an early age?
PN: I was at Manchester School of Music trying to become a musician. One day someone (?) came to visit the school looking for some kids to be on the telly in Knight Errand (????) I was chosen and then again for another show ... Family Solicitor (I think) and so on and so on and then Coronation Street. I played Stanley Fairclough and remember little other than the incredible professionalism of the assembled cast and when I forgot my lines (often) one of the old crew would say them in their speech and off I would go looking like an actor. This has stood me well.
FH: You mentioned attending Manchester School Of Music … was music an early aspiration?
How did your joining HERMAN'S HERMITS come about ... were you approached by them or did you actually audition for the band? Was the band built around your wanting to expand your career into music or did the "core" band already exist? Had you ever sung on the television series prior to joining the band?
PN: I was looking for a band. I was in a band called The Cyclones and we were crap. I saw The Heartbeats. They were a whole level above crap so I ingratiated myself into the band then took it over and fired all the crappy players using skills I still haven't learned. I have never successfully auditioned for anything in my career and do not recommend it for anyone who has a spirit, a soul or two balls. They get lost.
FH: Being at such an early age when all this success started, you must have been obligated to succumb to things like Parental Consent and / or advice from Advisors and Managers ... How much input did you personally have early on regarding your own career? Were there ever directions or opportunities that you personally wanted to pursue but felt that, in some way, your parents and/or advisors held you back?
PN: My parents had zero input in my career other than to teach me to be independent and to always be honest, steadfast and true and I was steadfast often. I was able to have a perfectly normal teen life and to never overestimate my worth and to compare my every day to that of a forefather and to get on my knees every day and say thank you to someone who they called G-d and I called Arnold. Until recently when I changed his name to Anita.
FH: You had a distinct advantage over some of the other British Pop Stars that were invading America at the time, being as young as you were at the time. Even today, while your biggest hits are now 40 years old, you're a mere babe of what, 35???
PN: My advantage was that everybody underestimated me. Being 15, everyone thought I was just a schoolboy hottie and that I would have 2 hits and then go away like the Ryan Twins, but I kept at it and now I am good. My body is 57 but my brain is 17 and I am about 31 ... in the dark.
FH: You were right there at the beginning of the British Invasion, which influenced the next several generations musically ... what were some of YOUR early musical influences?
PN: The Everly Brothers, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, Adam Faith.
FH: You personally also had a MAJOR cross-section of fans ... the kids loved the music, the Moms thought you were cute and adorable ... even the GRANDMOTHERS loved you!!! How did you react to that at the time ... and, in hindsight, what do you feel was the reason for such a universal, cross-section appeal? (The mental image of PETER NOONE groupies, aged 12-83 is NOT a pretty picture!!!)
PN: The music was honest and made for 13 to 14 year old girls. Some of them still get to feel happier at my concerts as they recall their youth and the young girls understand because we are selling songs, not thigh wobbling.
FH: I remember my OWN mother loving your music ... and feeling betrayed when cute little PETER NOONE went and had his teeth fixed!!!
PN: Peter Noone never had his teeth fixed! This was a story invented by Rolling Stone because they couldn't figure out what we were. I still have ALL my original teeth thanks!
FH: Your music holds up EXTREMELY well today ... these are finely crafted pop songs and they've stood the test of time. How much input did you have into selecting your material for recording? I know that MICKIE MOST gets a LOT of credit (and deservedly so, I might add) for the British acts he was producing at the time ... but what was the "screening process" for new material that was being presented to the band?
PN: WE selected the music. WE is Peter Noone and Mick Most. He was a genius and I had good taste.
FH: You've mentioned several times that magazines like 16 and ROLLING STONE fabricated (or embellished) stories at the time to make good press ... but obviously you cooperated with these publications at the time. Can one chalk this up to the old adage that ALL press is GOOD press ... anything to fuel the publicity machine?
PN: Rolling Stone never interviewed me. Being a very independent and far more intelligent member of the British Music Scene, I avoided it and treated it with the contempt it deserved and now deserves, although my Mum gets it now and seems to enjoy it. I never bought it and had the occasion to see the Publisher's Office (Jann something) and there was a smashed Who guitar and, of course, that was the closest he ever got to the music business. I liked the writer who wrote the Michael Douglas / Sharon Stone movie because he knew it was about nothing to do with real life, and I bet he has a guitar at his home and not a broken one.
FH: I know that 16 MAGAZINE ran contests offering things like "Win A Date With Peter Noone," etc, etc. What were your thoughts on all this at the time? Did you feel that you had to cooperate with these teen magazines in order to succeed? (I also just read that you were once on the cover of TIME MAGAZINE ... and didn't even know it until YEARS later when a fan showed you a copy ... is this a true story???)
PN: I think 16 was more important than anyone realized. Gloria Stavers was probably responsible for the success of The Beatles, The Stones, The Dave Clark Five and, of course, Herman's Hermits. She loved the players and she loved the fans, too. And I do mean loved! She thought of her readers as lovely young girls and was protective to the point that she often changed answers so as not to spoil someone's side of who the band member was. She was my friend because I appreciate people who like people and she liked and loved her audience. She had a reputation for being a bit of a battle axe but the truth is she was a very nice and lovely person, and I will box anyone who says otherwise. Being a part of an important press tool for anyone with a new act, she had lots of friends and I even remember some of their names ... Danny Fields was one. When she was sick and almost over in this world, I made it my job to have her treated with the respect she deserved and had limos take her to the hospital so she would feel special and my wife and I went often to make her laugh as showbiz turned their backs on her brilliant but now useless (to them) career. I am proud to have been there when she worked her genius.
FH: Back then, your face had to be one of the most INSTANTLY recognizable faces on the planet. Today, in 2005, PETER NOONE can be as "recognizable" as he chooses to be ... do you feel sometimes like you "step into the character of HERMAN"? I know that when we shared a flight to California you seemed to be able to "control" your situation ... you could be somewhat "anonymous" if you wanted to be ... or, "go into character," depending on your mood. Are you enjoying a more "normal" lifestyle now that you're able to step back from the spotlight as the mood strikes you?
PN: Peter Noone is Herman is Peter Noone. I have mood swings and sometimes I am nice and then again I can say "Fuck off" if I want. Fuck off!
(Jolly What?!?!? Did PETER NOONE just tell me to "Fuck Off"?!?!?!? Now THIS is a new interview experience for me!!! lol)
FH: As a bit of a chart-aholic, I find it somewhat offensive that HERMAN'S HERMITS are often discounted when recounting the big British Invasion bands of the day ... you ALWAYS hear about THE BEATLES, THE ROLLING STONES, THE KINKS, THE WHO, THE HOLLIES, THE DAVE CLARK FIVE ... yet the TRUTH is that HERMAN'S HERMITS had (in MANY cases) MORE hits than many of these other bands ... and, in fact, some early HERMITS material was later covered by artists later considered to be more significant like THE YARDBIRDS and THE HOLLIES!
PN: This is because Allen Klein THINKS he owns the product and, as he hates music, he has trodden and traded down the works of not only my band but also the genius of Sam Cooke and anyone else he and his family have decided to steal from to pay for their lifestyle. My revenge is to have a happy life and denounce this fraudulent family at every occasion to the point that people think it is a personal vendetta, but I love my life and I bet his family will pay for their fraud one day. Every time someone asks to use a Herman's Hermits song in a movie (eg Naked Gun), I have to go and recreate the music and nothing can beat the original vibe and Allen owns it and hides it. Ever hear a Sam Cooke song in a movie? One of the greatest songs of all time, "A CHANGE IS GONNA COME" is never heard. How about all the other stuff he owns, like the CAMEO / PARKWAY tracks. His son and daughter now operate the catalogue in the same vein as their crooked father and one day bad things will surely befall them! (Scumbags!) You would think they would at least ask for permission to re-release all our stolen work, and one day the lawyers we throw money at to get these scum will expose them for who and what they are. I use them as an example to my daughter (who is also intent on being in the music business) of what she should avoid, and to try to always act honestly, unlike them.
FH: HERMAN'S HERMITS seemed to have been more popular here in The States than they were back at home in England, scoring 18 STRAIGHT TOP 40 HITS!!! (And 13 of those made The National Top Ten!!!) Any thoughts on why that may have been?
PN: Not true ... We had far more hits in the UK. Check your facts. This is a theme developed by 16 Magazine and other irrelevant newspapers like Rolling Stone. The idea that we were more popular in the US than in the UK is totally preposterous and was probably something somebody who warleked at Rolling Stone Magazine said so it became gospel along with all the other nonsense they wrote, incidentally excluding Herman's Hermits totally as if we never existed. I went to Jan Wenner's office once and was thrilled to see he had a broken Pete Townsend guitar on his wall which is the closest he will ever get to being a musician, no matter how much money his mum gave him.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Check out the HERMAN'S HERMITS HIT LIST at the end of this segment ... you'll see just how popular these guys really were!!! And, you can see for yourself just how many hits they had ... and just how BIG those hits were ... here in The States!!! After compiling the list ... and sending it to PETER ... we covered some of the specifics.)
FH: I said earlier that HERMAN'S HERMITS had more hits in America than Great Britain ... in truth, it appears to be a bit of a wash. HERMAN'S HERMITS' original popularity lasted a couple more years in Great Britain than it did here in The States ... but, song for song, our countries were pretty evenly matched. But THREE of your songs that went all the way to #1 here in The States were never even released as singles back home!!! Yet they're now amongst your most popular and best-known material. What were your thoughts at the time regarding DIFFERENT singles being released in America vs. what was being released back home?
PN: We made records. Some of them were decidedly more likely to hit the US charts than others. We had hits everywhere in the world and we lived for hit records. I never really worried much about the UK and always wanted to live in the US as an Englishman and become Terry Thomas.
FH: HERMAN'S HERMITS came along at a time when so many of the British bands were writing their own material yet most of the music you released was written by professional songwriters ... and some VERY big names at that. CAROLE KING and GERRY GOFFIN wrote I'M INTO SOMETHING GOOD ... P.F. SLOAN wrote A MUST TO AVOID ... even some of the early cover tunes (like SILHOUETTES and SAM COOKE's WONDERFUL WORLD) were decidedly American. In fact, HERMAN'S HERMITS had a number of hit records covering songs by American artists. I'M INTO SOMETHING GOOD, your first U.S. chart hit (#7 in Cash Box, #13 in Billboard ... and #1 here in Chicago!!!) had just been on the charts four months earlier for EARL-JEAN (ETHEL McCREA of THE COOKIES, who had a couple of Top 20 Hits with some other songs written by CAROLE KING and GERRY GOFFIN, namely CHAINS ... #17, 1962 ... and later covered by THE BEATLES ... and DON'T SAY NOTHIN' BAD ABOUT MY BABY ... #7, 1963). THE HERMITS' version eclipsed EARL-JEAN's original chart showing (which only peaked at #38) and soon they were on the way, riding the wave of THE BRITISH INVASION to become one of the most popular British bands to hit here in The States. The following year, they hit The Top 5 (and #1 again here in Chicago) with their remake of THE RAYS' hit SILHOUETTES. WONDERFUL WORLD, a Top Ten Hit for SAM COOKE in 1960, went all the way to #4 when HERMAN'S HERMITS recorded it ... and I'M HENRY THE VIII, I AM, a National #1 Hit Single, dated all the way back to 1911!!! Then you hooked up with some of Britain's most prolific songwriters. (GRAHAM GOULDMAN wrote LISTEN PEOPLE, EAST WEST and NO MILK TODAY along with several hits for other British Invasion bands like BUS STOP for THE HOLLIES ... which, if I'm not mistaken, HERMAN'S HERMITS actually recorded first. He then went on to record some of his own material as part of 10cc.) GEOFF STEPHENS (who later wrote WINCHESTER CATHEDRAL) wrote THERE'S A KIND OF HUSH and SUNSHINE GIRL. Was this a conscious transition ... once you were established ... to record the works of British songwriters? You then also worked with RAY DAVIES of THE KINKS (DANDY) and DONOVAN LEITCH (MUSEUM, another one of my favorites.) What was that like? Again, how was this material presented to you? And what was the selection process? Did you have any input as to which tracks would be released as singles?
PN: We recorded every song we could play. There may be 500 horrid recordings sitting in a vault somewhere. We recorded hundreds of songs. We were studio rats. We did them, we threw them away, we polished them, we tried different things with all of them. Some were better than others. At first it was me and The Hermits but after it was discovered that Barry the drummer had a studio problem (time) rather than replace him, (he was a friend and a nice bloke) we used The Hermits less and less, and unfortunately, Mickie Most and I discovered the process was faster if not as much fun and we stupidly left The Hermits out of all the decisions causing them to hate us and I think rightfully so, but in my callousness of youth I thought little of other people's feelings and destroyed my friendships in the name of super success, none of which I regret sadly enough, because the recordings are of the moment and I was in the moment and The Hermits weren't. At the time I mean. And, at the time, Donovan was in top form ... Ray Davies always was. We loved them and they tolerated us, because we were kids!
FH: It's no secret that THE HERMITS did not play on most of your studio recordings but rather "reproduced" those sounds on the road. Your "studio band" consisted of the EARLIEST stages of half of future headbanger rock and rollers LED ZEPPELIN. What do you remember about working with JIMMY PAGE? (This guy was playing on virtually EVERYTHING as a studio musician at the time!) When I tell people that the classic guitar riff that runs throughout SILHOUETTES was probably played by the legendary JIMMY PAGE, they cannot believe it!!! Also, what was the connection between FOR YOUR LOVE, HERMAN'S HERMITS and THE YARDBIRDS? (If I'm not mistaken, ERIC CLAPTON was THE YARDBIRDS' guitarist at the time of FOR YOUR LOVE ... and, reportedly, even quit the band over their trying "too pop" a tune at the time!)
PN: The Hermits played on the songs that they played well on. Sometimes (sometimes) other musicians played on tracks, mostly because the band's weakness was our drummer (the nicest guy in the band and therefore irreplaceable) because he had pretty unusual time and was therefore un-overdubbable (my word) so we started using Clem Cattini (Tornadoes) and Jim Page (Yardbirds), John Paul Jones, Herbie Flowers and whoever was around at the time. Lek is the guitarist on For Your Love so you can see he was very good. Eric, I think, quit the Yardbirds because they had no work. You guys really need to understand the financial side of being a rock star in the '60s. I think the Yardbirds got 30 quid a night.
FH: So, can you confirm then, once and for all, if JIMMY PAGE is the one who played the guitar riff on your original version of SILHOUETTES?
PN: Jim played on Silhouettes and Wonderful World and, once Karl Green faded, he was replaced on ALL the recordings by John Paul Jones, who also arranged almost everything and was our genius.
(And there you have it ... right from the horse's mouth, as it were ... that IS JIMMY PAGE doing the cool little guitar licks on SILHOUETTES!!!)
EDITOR'S NOTE: After this piece originally ran, it was brought to our attention that the on-going guitar riff that runs throughout HERMAN'S HERMITS' version of SILHOUETTES was actually performed by British Studio Guitar Whiz VIC FLICK. VIC and PETER BOTH confirmed this new piece of information in later editions of our FORGOTTEN HITS Newsletter. (At ONE point, there was even some speculation that VIC FLICK had SHOWN JIMMY PAGE the repetitive riff that runs throughout the song ... and then later it was debated as to whether or not PAGE was present at the recording session at all!!!) Certainly memories fade after 40+ years ... but the general consensus when all sides were presented is that it was VIC FLICK ... and NOT JIMMY PAGE ... who handled the guitar duties on the HERMAN'S HERMITS version of SILHOUETTES.
FH: All of the musical history books always seem to play up the fact that the JIMMY PAGE version of THE YARDBIRDS eventually evolved into LED ZEPPELIN … but, infact PAGE and JOHN PAUL JONES had been working with HERMAN'S HERMITS for years PRIOR to this new venture. I asked PETER NOONE if HE was surprised by the new direction his fellow recording mates took:
PN: Jimmy Page only played on a couple of sessions ... Silhouettes and Wonderful World. John Paul Jones was the arranger and bass player on a load of stuff and even joined the band for one short German tour (The Hermits were afraid of him!) I can list all his arranged and played on songs when I am at home and can look at my memory. Peter Grant (ex-Herman's Hermits Tour Manager) was chatting about Led Zeppelin for ages before they broke and nobody who knew Peter or any of the Led Zeppelin guys doubted they would become huge. I remember hearing other singers being touted around who were signed to Mick Most and my only surprise was how long they stayed alive!
FH: In concert you most often cite THE END OF THE WORLD as your favorite HERMAN’S HERMITS recording. What are some of your other favorites?
PN: I'm Into Something Good, for its pure pop honesty ... and No Milk Today, which is the PERFECT Herman record.
(We will discuss a number of PETER's recording studio memories at the end of this piece! Stay tuned!!!)
FH: Are there any songs that you felt SHOULD have been bigger hits than they were ... or maybe a couple of songs that you feel weren't given the chance that you're especially proud of?
PN: I think the end of Herman's Hermits was Allen Klein. It became a constant thorn in the side of the band that we made records that were number one in the USA AND WE GOT A GOLD RECORD BUT NO CHECK TO GO WITH IT. We decided to stop giving the US records thinking that this would make them pay up, but actually that was their plan all along. Remember, Allen Klein was a bag carrier auditor. My mum and dad did the same thing so I know how it works. He weaseled his way into every band's office and lied and cheated us all and now his children are spending the royalties from I'm Henry the VIII I Am. Why don't you ask them how they can justify never having paid Herman's Hermits? That is a real story for you! I am fortunate because I actually made a lot of money, but think of Derek Leckenby's family when they hear a record of their late father's on the radio and imagine Klein's children getting paid for the sale??????????? I hope Lennon was right about karma.
FH: ALLEN KLEIN is probably BEST known for his associations with THE BEATLES and THE ROLLING STONES (good, bad or otherwise.) How did HERMAN'S HERMITSfirst come to be involved with him? Wasn't it pretty much the contracts of HERMAN'S HERMITS and THE ANIMALS that he first picked up?
PN: No idea who was first but look at all the music he has touched (even Cameo / Parkway and Sam Cooke) and you will see unhappiness everywhere with the exception being The Stones, who have overcome his deft and dastardly skills. He should be remembered as the destroyer of bands. Can you name a band he has been involved with who haven't had shit happen?
FH: This HAD to have been perceived as a GOOD thing at the time, no??? A big step forward for the band? Big, successful, rich American businessman with a proven track record takes on British artists like HERMAN'S HERMITSand THE ANIMALS ... when and where did things start to go sour?
PN: His trick was to tell everyone he could save us taxes. That's all. No musical knowledge other than he was a cash register expert and can play it better than anyone and maybe his son can play it, too, so it will continue.
FH: I've got absolutely NO problem covering the ALLEN KLEIN thing in greater detail either ... it's something I've never understood since (greedy bastard that he is) HE would make more money, too, by licensing out this material!!! (Makes absolutely NO sense to me!)
(EDITOR'S NOTE: I asked this particular question four or five times before I got ANY kind of answer ... with no further explanation than this, here is what PETER NOONEhad to say):
PN: He is an accountant. Both my parents were accountants and I heard them discuss taxes but they always said it was a good idea to pay them rather than have them disappear.
FH: While many other artists were dabbling in that whole psychedelic genre, HERMAN'S HERMITS remained true to their roots and continued to release great "pop" songs. Did you ever want to "experiment" more in the studio, as was certainly the way at that time … or was this more of a conscious decision to "not mess around with what was working"? Were there ever any angry outbursts in the late '60's about taking more control of your music? (Unfortunately, such control has often spelled the END of many of these artists who thought that they now knew better than the professionals who had guided their careers to the heights they achieved ... that's gotta be a double-edged sword of sorts!)
PN: I made a conscious decision in 1963 to be a pop singer and to sing the music of the 14 and 15 and 16 year old girls. I was proud of my choice. I played psychedelic music for my own pleasure and even had a go at a couple of tracks but Sunshine Girl is still considered a pop song.
(FOR THE RECORD: SUNSHINE GIRL was a #8 British Hit but stiffed here in The States where it peaked at #82.)
FH: FORGOTTEN HITS has existed for the past seven years by reminding music fans out there about some of the GREAT music that just doesn't get played on the radio anymore due to the tight playlists dictated by those who control the Oldies Radio stations ... instead, we get the same 50-60 songs over and over and over again. As I mentioned to you earlier in my first email, a good part of HERMAN'S HERMITS' appeal to ME is some of the lesser-known, lesser-played material like EAST, WEST, LISTEN PEOPLE, JUST A LITTLE BIT BETTER and LEANING ON THE LAMP POST ... the stuff that you cleverly refer to as "the rubbish" on stage.
PN: Only I am allowed to call anything of mine RUBBISH. As long as I continue to tour, the songs will stay alive despite the fact that ABKCO does not promote them. EMI released a great CD this year and I sell it on the road and on my website and promote it as a great Herman's Hermits CD. I have never knowingly promoted an ABKCO CD by anyone who they have on their roster because I know they steal all the money and live in Scarsdale waiting for what g-d has ready for them or their offspring.
FH: Speaking of HERMAN'S HERMITS in concert, you seem to draw a wide range of audience members again ... now you've got kids who've grown up listening to your music and know every word because this is the music that their parents ... who were THERE at the time ... play at home. I've seen you several times now these past few years and it is ALWAYS a fantastic show. You genuinely seem to be having fun up there ... (and your guitarist is TOTALLY crazy by the way!!!) I can't do a proper interview and NOT address the fact that there WAS a period of time where you deliberately tried to DISTANCE yourself from the HERMAN'S HERMITS material ... even starting a NEW band called THE TREMBLERS and refusing to play HERMAN'S HERMITS material. Have you embraced your roots again? I'm sure touring as much as you do, performing all the hits, earns you a good living, but are there times when you still long to be accepted as a "contemporary artist"? Aspirations to record some NEW material? Are there some HERMAN'S HERMITS songs that you're just sick and tired of performing?!?!? (LOL)
PN: The Tremblers was a way for me to go out and have fun and it led me back to Herman which was a surprise and I needed a break to understand how good I had been as Herman and that Peter Noone is Herman is Peter Noone!
FH: If I'm not mistaken, during some of the time that you had "retired" HERMAN there for a while, a group performing as HERMAN'S HERMITS (WITHOUT PETER NOONE?!?!?!?) was doing a lot of British Invasion Revival Shows. How did THAT come about? Why would ANYBODY go see HERMAN'S HERMITS without PETER NOONE ... PETER NOONE WAS HERMAN'S HERMITS ... that's the WHOLE sound!!! Was there legal action taken to stop this? Were any of the original HERMITS involved in this? How has this affected your relationship with the old members of your band? Do you still keep in contact with any of them today? Are any of them still involved in the music business?
PN: The world is now full of disgraceful shots at passing off people as the band. We have The Animals drummer calling his band The Animals. Many people would argue (rightly) that The Animals was Eric Burdon and Alan Price and perhaps Hilton Valentine. Nobody would call John Steel the focus so therefore I am saddened that people see what they THINK is The Animals and it isn't. There is a band called Herman's Hermits which also features a drummer named Barry Whitwam. Barry was a nice guy but was never a focal point of anything musically at Herman's Hermits and is not even on 89% of the recordings and wasn't even at the sessions! This is disgraceful behaviour but is protected by a legal system that consistently prove they do not like music and it is only a way for them to buy a car and a pool, and not to present music as art.
FH: Do you still associate with any of your "contemporaries" from back in the day? I know you're sometimes packaged in oldies shows with other British artists ... who were you closest to back in the '60's ... and who have you remained close with (or are closest with) today?
PN: I associate with everyone who is alive. I run into everyone at funerals or Albert Hall concerts. I saw Charlie Watts at a concert and asked him how his little girl was, and he said, "Peter? My little girl is 45!" I saw everyone at Mickie's funeral. Page, Beck, John Paul Jones, The Pretenders, Donovan, Lulu and I was happy to say that Mickie chose Hi Ho Silver Lining by Jeff and two Herman's Hermits songs to play after Lucille by Richard Penniman.
FH: I, for one, absolutely LOVED the remake you did of I'M INTO SOMETHING GOOD and the video (with LESLIE NIELSEN) for THE NAKED GUN ... that seemed to be the point where you sort of "became" HERMAN again. How did all of that come about? (I know that you mentioned earlier the reason for having to re-record this track ... and I personally happen to think it's a GREAT remake ... I've been looking for a copy for YEARS!!!) How were you first approached about working on this project? I especially love the video. That had to be good fun.
PN: Back to Klein ... They wanted to use the song in the movie. Klein declined because he knew he would have to ACCOUNT TO SOMEBODY (eg Paramount). As he hates to account to anyone, because he can't cheat and lie, he had to say no. The producers and writers contacted me with their story and I said, "I can make a copy exactly like the original and nobody will be able to tell the difference." When it was done, we decided you couldn't tell the difference so we took off the guitar and replaced it with a whahhoo machine so Klein wouldn't say it was the original. It's a tragedy that Klein and his witless children stop all the product they control from being in movies so they can steal ALL the money. A question: Have any songs under the Klein families' control ever been used in movies, commercials, tv shows? Doesn't anyone ever wonder why? Surely there would be one Herman's Hermits song, one Animals song. One song from a Cameo / Parkway artist, one Sam Cooke song, just one, that would work in a motion picture????
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Again, I'm unclear here ... wouldn't ALLEN KLEIN have even MORE "money to steal" if he licensed these songs for theatrical use??? I'm confused!)
FH: Speaking of movies, some people don't realize that HERMAN'S HERMITS appeared in a couple of movies back in the '60's ... what was it like making the transition to "movie star"? (Having started out as an actor, was this an easy transition for you?) Obviously, the HERMAN'S HERMITS movies were more "romps" than serious acting ... but have you pursued acting over the past 25 years? Is that something you would be interested in?
PN: Read the bio. Rock movies were romps where 1) The Beatles ran away from girls; 2) The Dave Clark Five ran away from girls; and 3) Herman ran away from girls. Do you think we didn't slow down for the healthy ones? That was acting.
FH: Back in 1965, HERMAN'S HERMITS went out on tour with THE WHO. back in 1965. At the time, HERMAN'S HERMITS were one of the biggest, most well-known, best-selling International acts on the planet ... and THE WHO were pretty much complete unknowns outside the London Club Scene. In fact, touring with HERMAN'S HERMITS was one of their first big breaks!!! (With all their on-stage theatrics and hi-jinks, this almost sounds like JIMI HENDRIX opening for THE MONKEES in hindsight ... but back in '65 we didn't care about ANY of that ... as long as it was British!!!) A couple of our readers previously mentioned that they attended some of these early HERMITS / WHO concert dates ... but I couldn't help but wonder what this experience was that like for a young and impressionable PETER NOONE?!?! I mean, this had to be a HUGE step forward from THE WHO's perspective ... a MAJOR tour in the U.S., opening up for one of the premier British Invasion bands! Who could have known at the time that they would develop into such a long-standing rock institution ... branching out from the "pop" scene with things like rock operas and Woodstock? What kind of memories do you recall regarding these early days of The British Invasion?
PN: So you will better understand the period of The Who when they toured with Herman's Hermits, they opened with Barbara Ann, which was sung by Keith Moon! Remember that before Tommy, The Who were what was called a pop group who relied on hit singles to make money from tours. Up until about '68 almost all touring groups needed a hit single to even get dates. Same with The Blues Magoos, who were on the same USA tour simply because they had a fabulous pop hit that summer. The Who were well known to Herman's Hermits because we saw them often on the same British TV shows that ALL British bands did if they had a hit single. I was impressed with The Who and when it was suggested that they would be the perfect act to tour with us, I agreed, as I was already a fan of the whole "mod thing" they were doing at the time. The single they released for the tour was either Happy Jack or Pictures of Lily, both of which could easily have been singles for Herman's Hermits. We had always had an unusual act on our bills. We had the Animals and Wayne Fontana and The Hollies basically because we knew them and liked them. The Who were obviously one of the most amusing and talented British bands but were trapped in a small arena (Europe), and their US label needed some pushing and I think Kit and Chris (their managers) knew that the label would get interested if their boys did a tour playing to a million American people. That was how it was done in those days before American Idol remember! One played to as many people as one could in the shortest time possible. The Who were the perfect compliment to us, because we were so different. The Animals were different, too. In those days of yore, it was necessary to be DIFFERENT!!! We were different. Many of the audiences came to see Herman's Hermits and discovered The Who, so I think it worked. Pete Townshend was writing Tommy on the tour and I think he gained a huge amount of experience from seeing how I was able to function on a daily basis, despite the madness, and I am proud to say that I asked my agent (Premier Talent) to represent them and they did. At the time I was offered a percentage from some agent but I declined and I am proud of that, too. My agent eventually got my three fave acts of the period -- Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and The Who. I had good taste. He was a great agent.
After our article ran in The British Publication, THE BEAT, original HERMAN'S HERMITS Drummer BARRY WHITWAM wrote a scathing Letter to the Editor, coming down on PETER for "falsely" representing the TRUE history of the band. In his letter, he put a number of words in PETER's mouth ... words that PETER NEVER said during the course of our interview. Naturally, I then became outraged ... and decided to call BARRY on the carpet for these accusations. In fact, I offered to take each and every contention point by point and address them one by one ... but BARRY never responded to a single one of my emails. Meanwhile, PETER NOONE tried to explain (as best as HE could) the legal and personal issues surrounding BARRY's HERMITS ... in fact, at one point, original HERMITS Guitarist KEITH HOPWOOD even became involved!!! Along the way, we stirred up a bunch of old, bitter memories ... but we ALSO came closer to the truth ... and the LEGAL decisions that now both divide and identify these bands.
MORE TO COME REGARDING THIS ON-GOING CONTROVERSY AND BATTLE ...
Meanwhile, you can listen to MASON RAMSEY's Interview with Original HERMAN'S HERMITS Drummer BARRY WHITWAM on ROCKANDROLLHEAVEN.net ...
Air Dates = Saturday, September 20th and Sunday, September 21st
(4 PM West Coast Time, 5 PM Mountain Time, 6 PM Central Time and 7 PM Eastern Time)
The HERMAN'S HERMITS HIT LIST
I'm Into Something Good (USA-7/Cash Box; CHI-1, UK-1)
Show Me Girl (USA-xx; CHI-xx; UK-19)
Can't You Hear My Heartbeat (USA-1/Cash Box; CHI-3; UK-xx)
Silhouettes (USA-5/Billboard & Cash Box; CHI-1; UK-3)
Mrs. Brown, You've Got A Lovely Daughter (USA-1/Billboard & Cash Box; CHI-1; UK-xx)
Wonderful World (USA-4/Billboard; CHI-3; UK-7)
I'm Henry The VIII, I Am (USA-1/Billboard & Cash Box; CHI-2; UK-xx)
Just A Little Bit Better (USA-7/Billboard; CHI-2; UK-15)
A Must To Avoid (USA-6/Cash Box; CHI-5; UK-6)
Listen People (USA-3/Billboard & Cash Box; CHI-3; UK-xx)
You Won't Be Leaving (USA-xx; CHI-xx; UK-20)
Leaning On The Lamp Post (USA-8/Cash Box; CHI-9; UK-xx)
This Door Swings Both Ways (USA-10/Cash Box; CHI-9; UK-18)
Dandy (USA-5/Billboard; CHI-6; UK-xx)
East, West (USA-15/Cash Box; CHI-7; UK-37)
There's A Kind Of Hush (USA-3/Cash Box; CHI-2; UK-7)
No Milk Today (USA-33/Cash Box; CHI-xx; UK-7 in 1966)
Don't Go Out Into The Rain (USA-13/Cash Box; CHI-22; UK-xx)
Museum (USA-21/Cash Box; CHI-28; UK-xx)
I Can Take Or Leave Your Loving (USA-21/Cash Box; CHI-16; UK-11)
Sleepy Joe (USA-54/Cash Box; CHI-xx; UK-12)
Sunshine Girl (USA-82 / Cash Box; CHI-xx; UK-8)
The Most Beautiful Thing In My Life (USA-131 / Billboard; CHI-xx; UK-xx)
Something's Happening (USA-130 / Billboard; CHI-xx; UK-6)
My Sentimental Friend (USA-xx; CHI-xx; UK-2)
Here Comes The Star (USA-xx; CHI-xx; UK-33)
Years May Come, Years May Go (USA-xx; CHI-xx; UK-7)
Bet Yer Life I Do (USA-xx; CHI-xx; UK-23)
Lady Barbara (USA-xx; CHI-xx; UK-13)
Can you believe that THREE of HERMAN'S HERMITS' Biggest #1 Hits here in America were NEVER released as singles back home in the U.K.?!?!? Incredibly, it's true ... British teens NEVER had a chance to buy CAN'T YOU HEAR MY HEARTBEAT, MRS. BROWN, YOU'VE GOT A LOVELY DAUGHTER or I'M HENRY THE VIII, I AM on a 45!!!
After our interview piece first ran, I had the opportunity to talk with PETER about some of the other best known HERMAN'S HERMITS singles ... as well as some of HIS personal favorites. Some of THOSE comments and memories are shared below:
NO MILK TODAY was released as a single in its own right back home in Jolly Ol' England back in October of 1966 ... four months before THERE'S A KIND OF HUSH hit the British Chart. It rose to #7 in the U.K. and, in PETER NOONE's own words, is one of his favorite HERMITS recordings: (He told me "No Milk Today is the PERFECT HERMITS record." Ironically, in concert, NOONE most-often cites their version of THE END OF THE WORLD as his favorite ... and he really DOES like their recording of this tune ... but he confided to me that, next to I'M INTO SOMETHING GOOD for its pure pop genius, NO MILK TODAY is his absolute FAVORITE HERMAN'S HERMITS recording.) We also uncovered this little bit of HERMAN'S HERMITS / NO MILK TODAY trivia during our talks:
FORGOTTEN HITS: The only "charted" HERMAN'S HERMITS' B-SIDE here in America was NO MILK TODAY, which was a BIG hit in its own right in Great Britain ... it's also one of my favorites (and I love the bit about your Mum in the tub from your stage show!) Would you have preferred that this was released as a single on its own here in the States?
PETER NOONE: No Milk Today was Herman's Hermits' best single and was put together by John Paul Jones, Mickie Most and me with Keith and Karl doing the back grounds. It was our biggest selling record worldwide and was a B-side in the US because some boy band covered "There's A Kind Of Hush" and put it out in Ohio so we were afraid the radio wouldn't play "There's A Kind Of Hush" by us and we threw away No Milk in the US.
(We later learned that the Ohio band PETER was referring to was a pre-teen trio of brothers called GARY AND THE HORNETS. Ironically, THEIR version of THERE'S A KIND OF HUSH never even CHARTED!!! As such, NO MILK TODAY was wasted here in The States as a B-Side, ultimately peaking at #33 while THERE'S A KIND OF HUSH went all the way to #3.)
PETER NOONE: No Milk Today became a B-Side because Mick most didn't actually like the song that much. It had been turned down by The Hollies so he thought it had something missing. Personally I think it is Herman's Hermits best recording, and perfectly captures the moment and the feel of Manchester terraced houses and what was the end of a British era. I recall it was made at Lansdown studios and that we recorded a few other songs that day . Probably There's A Kind Of Hush, Dandy and No Milk Today. This was in the period where we (Mick and I) had just stopped using The Hermits on the recordings and were using the best musicians available to us to try to keep up with what had suddenly become The British Invasion. We were supposed to deliver 48 tracks a year to MGM so we were always scrambling to catch up. I recall that John Paul Jones played bass guitars (an upright and a fender bass) on the tracks and was also responsible for the arrangements which I dare say are brilliant on all three tracks but I know he liked No Milk Today and I would suggest that his arrangement turned this perfect Graham Gouldman song into a hit. I think that after we had the tracks down then I did the lead vocal and then Karl Green, Keith Hopwood and I did the backgrounds, the songs were mixed and that was it. I hope I am not rambling on too much , but i am happy to have this opportunity to state the facts as to who played what and when on our records.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Several years later, PETER NOONE would produce a version of NO MILK TODAY for its songwriter, GRAHAM GOULDMAN! We were able to feature THIS rarity in our FORGOTTEN HITS Newsletter as well!)
Another one of PETER NOONE's personal favorites is the HERMAN'S HERMITS recording of THE END OF THE WORLD, the old SKEETER DAVIS song. It was released here in The States as the B-SIDE to their chart-topping hit, I'M HENRY THE VIII, I AM back in 1965 ... and it seems to remain both a fan favorite as well as a PETER NOONE favorite. (DIDJAKNOW?: Despite being one of their biggest U.S. hits ever, I'M HENRY THE VIII, I AM was NEVER released as a single back in England!!!)
PETER NOONE: Let me give you a little background on Herman's Hermits’ recording of The End of the World -- Early days in The Heartbeats, Keith Hopwood and I (he was a telephone engineer and I was still at school) listened to the Skeeter Davis version and learned the chords and some of the words and added it to our repertoire. We also learned I'll Never Dance Again (a Bobby Rydell B-Side, I think) and many other songs that no other local bands played. I believe that I'll Never Dance Again and The End of the World were actually discovered by the original singer of The Heartbeats (Malcolm something) and I would like to commend him for his excellent taste in music and also for not showing up that fateful night when I replaced him forever. I doubt if much of Herman’s Hermits’ version resembles the Skeeter Davis version because after a song gets played live a lot it usually becomes a hybrid, which is why some oldies acts completely miss the plot and forget to listen to the original recordings. I wonder why it ended up as a B-Side anyway. We usually used one of The Hermits’ written songs for the B-Sides. The B-Sides were always left to The Hermits and we did what we could and I am proud of all of them except Truck Stop Mamma and I walked out of that session because Herman cannot sing about a Truck Stop Mama.
FORGOTTEN HITS: Are there any other interesting stories behind some of your hit songs that you’d like to share with our readers?
PETER NOONE: The Herman's Hermits version of WONDERFUL WORLD was recorded as a tribute, the day after Sam was murdered in theUSA. At the same recording session THE ANIMALS recorded BRING IT ON HOME TO ME. A tribute !!! We were fans of his music so we did tributes. We didn't want to make the best recording as we all knew that SAM'S recording WAS and ALWAYS will be the BEST recording. I should state here for the record, that I do not believe the music business is a competition. American Idol is a competition. I was never on it, and neither were any of my colleagues or fellow members of the so called British Invasion. Musicians do not compete.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: I MUST point out that a year after this portion of our interview was conducted, PETER NOONE DID, in fact, appear on the hit television series AMERICAN IDOL as one of the "mentors", counseling the young singing wannabes on their selections from The British Invasion. While it was GREAT to see our hero back up center stage on such a contemporary program (along with '60's Female Singing Sensation LULU) ... and the song selection that week was VERY entertaining ... the general consensus AFTERWARDS was that the show DIDN'T work well in that format. Sadly, it's hard to get kids to "feel" very much for music that was recorded, in SOME cases, as much as 30 YEARS before they were even born!!!)
PETER NOONE: Please try to remember that we all loved Sam Cooke, and others and never wanted to compete. Every one of the bands who made up the British Invasion were influenced by the same singers (mostly American). We stole, used,borrowed and adored them. As a 13 year old I took a 5 hour bus ride to see Sam, who wore a turquoise suit and sang almost everyone I had heard until that day to shame. Having all of his recordings (ALL means ALL) from his earlier career I was a bit disappointed that he hadn't even referred to them in his concert, only to find out later, that he had no idea that anyone in England knew anything about his gospel music or had ever heard of that period of his career. A true gentleman was Sam, and when Rod Stewart borrowed his voice and loaned it to Steve from Journey, I was happy that at last he was known by everyone. Anyone who knows Sam's history becomes a fan. He was the MAN!
FH: Several folks on our music list have written in asking about the “special effects” used to achieve that sound on the guitar for your big hit MRS. BROWN, YOU’VE GOT A LOVELY DAUGHTER. What can you tell us about that?
PN: There is an unlikely story that the fake Hermits tell about Derek Leckenby. He DID NOT put a duster under the bridge of his guitar to get the Mrs. Brown sound! That was KEITH HOPWOOD and he used a Gretsch Country Gentleman which had a damper as standard equipment and that’s how he got the sound. For some unknown reason the unHerman's Hermits tell a strange and untrue story during their live shows about a duster, and this DID NOT happen. If any of you saw a fake Herman and he told this story, you got CONNED!!! And I hope he was good.
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