With permission from Kent Kotal/ Forgotten Hits/the60sShop here is part six of the interview with Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits. To subscribe to FORGOTTEN HITS, which is a great newsletter if you are like me and into music of the 60's, you can e-mail them at The60sshop@aol.com. Here is part six in this six part series.
FORGOTTEN HITS: Today 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. We recently bought our youngest daughter (10) a copy of the HERMAN'S HERMITS' GREATEST HITS CD, RETROSPECTIVE, and she absolutely LOVES it ... sings along with every word!!! (In fact, she's planning on singing LISTEN PEOPLE for an upcoming audition at her performance group, KIDS WHO CARE ... and sings along with your CD whenever she cleans her room .... which, of course, is NEVER often enough to please a parent! She actually squealed when I told her that I was going to be doing an interview with you for FORGOTTEN HITS!) In fact, something she wrote for Fathers' Day last year inspired me to do a series on PSYCHEDELIC MUSIC OF THE '60's, which we turned into a little contest. We let HER judge the entries that we received and it was HER final decision as to which ones BEST explained what psychedelic music was. Which leads me to my NEXT question ... while 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? 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!)
PETER NOONE: 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. It will be included in the "BONUS SECTION" of HERMAN'S HERMITS wavs sent out at the conclusion of this article.
FH: What were some of YOUR all-time favorite HERMAN'S HERMITS recordings???
PN: I'm Into Something Good, for its pure pop honesty ... and No Milk Today, which is the PERFECT Herman record.
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, I've seen you three or four 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.
Well, the GOOD news is that PETER NOONE is having fun being "HERMAN" again ... and it really shows. He puts on one of the most entertaining, hit-filled oldies shows on the circuit ... and it's DEFINITELY worth checking out.
I've saved the best for last ... my all-time favorite HERMAN'S HERMITS B-SIDE, I GOTTA DREAM ON ... a song that I believe could have been as big a hit as ANY of their others had it simply been given a chance ... but instead it was stuck on the flip side of MRS. BROWN, YOU'VE GOT A LOVELY DAUGHTER and was virtually ignored by both radio and the public alike. Too bad ... this one gets MY vote as one of the best, over-looked B-SIDES ever.
I hope that you've enjoyed my little interview with PETER NOONE ... it certainly was INTERESTING (to say the least) and, hopefully, equally entertaining. We've got LOTS more great B-SIDES coming up ... remember, you can vote for ANY of these that you like ... and, vote as OFTEN as you like ... and even nominate a few of your own favorites for consideration. Lots more to follow ... stick around!