Saturday, October 21, 2006
FORGOTTEN HITS: As I recall, prior to HERMAN'S HERMITS, you were fairly well-known as a child actor from a British Television Series. How did your joining HERMAN'S HERMITS come about ... were you approached by them or was this whole singing thing something that you had already aspired to and you actually auditioned for the band?
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? What role did your parents play in your career at the time ... and on through the early days of HERMAN'S HERMITS?
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 never really said how you came to join HERMAN'S HERMITS ... was this something that you AUDITIONED for ... or was the band built around your wanting to expand your career into music? Did the "core" band already exist? Had you ever sung on the television series prior to joining the band? Was music ALSO an early aspiration?
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? What were some of the decisions that were made for you that you've come to regret ... and did you have negative premonitions about them at the time? 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...
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 ... did you cooperate with these publications at the time? It is said 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 probably 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.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: I mentioned several times to PETER that I would be happy to offer FORGOTTEN HITS as the "soap box" to finally "set the record straight" regarding any mis-truths that have been repeated throughout the years regarding HERMAN'S HERMITS ... I don't know that we ever got deep enough into our interview to accomplish this ... it was tough with responses like "I didn't know this was going to be a book" ... but I think that we DID give PETER NOONE the opportunity and forum to get a few things that have been bothering him off his chest!!!)
More to follow ... but first, here are a couple more of my favorite HERMAN'S HERMITS B-SIDES.
HERMAN'S HERMITS had a number of hit records covering songs by American artists. I'M INTO SOMETHING GOOD, their 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!!!
The other day we featured the HERMAN'S HERMITS version of the BOBBY VEE track WALKIN' WITH MY ANGEL, the U.S. B-SIDE of SILHOUETTES. In 1965, they cut a version of the 1959 FRANKIE FORD hit SEA CRUISE, and stuck it on the back of their Top Ten smash JUST A LITTLE BIT BETTER. It's a rockin' little record that the disc jockeys just didn't play ... and that's too bad 'cause it deserves a listen. It's today's featured HERMAN'S HERMITS B-SIDE!!!
Friday, October 20, 2006
On this date in music history,
Another form of help came from a soap opera. It was included as part of the soundtrack of the Luke and Laura storyline in
On a personal note, I loved this song back then and I still do. It was a hit during my freshman year in college. My cousin Randy (Blankenship not Badazz) and I would go to lunch together at the local pizza place not far from Northern Kentucky University. My two favorite songs on their juke box were September Morn by Neil Diamond and Rise by Herb Alpert. I didn’t know it at the time but I must have been driving Randy crazy because I played those two songs every time we went there. One day someone else, I don’t remember who right now, joined us for lunch. After we ordered I got up and started to approach the juke box. Randy didn’t know that I heard him tell our guest that he knew what I was going to play. Now he was right I was going to play them. However, I thought I am starting to get tired of them and I don’t want anyone to think I am that predictable. So I played some songs I didn’t hear that often. I got back to our table and the juke box started up but didn’t play either of the Diamond or Alpert songs. Randy didn’t say anything but he had a look of surprise on his face that I obviously didn’t play my two favorites.
I don’t think I ever told him this before. I know that Randy visits this site every once in awhile so he may know it now.
The next morning as we were waiting to be called to board our plane to LA, Frannie noticed a guy in a bright blue shirt running up to the gate at the very last minute to catch the flight ... it was PETER NOONE!!! He was flying on the VERY same flight that WE were to Los Angeles!!! Now because we fly stand-by / space available (certainly the NICEST remaining United Airlines perk), we never know where we're going to sit on the plane ... but I'd say we get First Class about 40% of the time if those seats are available. This time we did NOT ... in fact, we sat about four rows BEHIND PETER NOONE in the Business Class Section of the plane. Missed opportunity #2!!! (I couldn't help thinking that if I could simply get to him for just a moment ... and explain that we were at his concert the night before in Bensenville ... I mean, what are the odds that ANYONE else on that flight had just seen him perform the night before?!?!? ... he couldn't help but agree to talk to me for an exclusive FORGOTTEN piece!!!)
Once our plane landed, we made a beeline to the baggage claim area, hoping to catch up with him there. Along the way, we heard a few people talking about how PETER NOONE was on the plane and I couldn't help but laugh a little ... at this stage of the game, he's pretty much NOT an immediately recognizable face, affording him the rare opportunity to be anonymous when he wants to be or, putting on the thick HERMAN accent and flashing those big white teeth (or, in this case, answering fan mail on PETERNOONE.COM in front of his fellow passengers), he can shift into celebrity mode ... pretty much at his own choosing. Figuring that this would be my last chance of any relevance to mention our attendance at last night's concert, we searched all over the Baggage Claim area ... but no PETER NOONE. Missed opportunity #3.
We went about our vacation, enjoying our annual pilgrimage to California>, but I couldn't help feeling that there was still some potential here for an interview. When we got back to Chicago, I emailed PETER at PETERNOONE.COM, explained the whole long-winded story I just told all of you and asked if he'd be up for doing a FORGOTTEN HITS interview. One month to the day after we had seen him perform in Bensenville, he emailed me back stating that he'd be happy to do it if the whole interview could be conducted via emails. We agreed to some back-and-forths and the results of these efforts will fill your mailboxes over the next few days.
Once I knew for certain that we would be doing an interview, I asked the list if they had any questions that THEY would like us to ask PETER NOONE ... and the ONLY response we received ... although not quite a question for PETER... was this one:
Yeah, I've got a question ..... when can I meet him? Thanks to the ipod, my kids have discovered a ton of old music that I have on there. Herman's Hermits plays a huge part of that. (Also, thanks to Tivo, they discovered the Monkees. I swear I didn't force them into it. Lucky for me, none of them have picked Micky as their favorite, so he's still all mine). What does it take to meet a Peter Noone at a Peter Noone / Herman's Hermits performance? Last time we saw him in Chicago with Bobby Sherman and Micky Dolenz (with both Frannie and Kent), we couldn't climb over the Bobby-heads to get to Peter. What a great show he put on ... absolutely blew the other two out of the water. (And you know how I feel about Micky, so ....) Kristy
I should point out at this point that our heroes are NOT always what we expect and hope them to be ... I found this out first-hand during the course of the next three months that I spent interviewing PETER NOONE. I often had to ask some of the same questions as many as four or five times to get an answer ... and I regularly got responses back like:
Please resend the questions I didn't answer ... I lost 'em
Please send the rest later ... I got bored
Can you resend the questions that I didn't answer? I had no idea it was going to be a book!
But I persevered ... determined to get the most complete interview I could. NOONE was RARELY witty and charming (as I had expected he would be) ... and, most of the time came off as a very bitter and angry young man ... particularly when it came to the subject of ALLEN KLEIN... which he brought up at EVERY opportunity (whether it was related to the question I asked or not!!!) Although he continued to bring ALLEN KLEIN into virtually every conversation, when I asked SPECIFIC questions about KLEIN, he ignored or refused to answer them ... even when I offered him the opportunity to set the story straight by way of a documented ALLEN KLEIN-bashing segment! Several times during the interview he told me how the press had ALWAYS gotten the HERMAN'S HERMITS story wrong ... that everything we THOUGHT we knew about them had been made up by the ignorant, publicity-hungry press in an effort to sell their papers and publications. Each time he did so, I offered the FORGOTTEN HITS forum as the means to finally set the story straight ... thinking that maybe a truly in-depth, soul-baring article might be something I could get published somewhere else to reach a far-greater audience than this simple newsletter could ever reach, thus getting the REAL HERMAN'S HERMITS story out there for the public to see and setting the story straight once and for all ... vindication in a way, since this was obviously something that PETER NOONE felt needed to be righted. Instead, I got short, abbreviated, disinterested answers to any hard-hitting questions. It was pretty much three months of pure frustration ... certainly the most difficult interview I've ever done ... and I must admit that several times over the past year I have thought about just abandoning the project all together rather than run some of the answers that I was given. (As it is, look how late this piece is finally going out ... exactly ONE YEAR has passed since our first interviews took place!!!)
But the more I thought about it, the more I figured that I WOULD run the story. Besides, it presented the PERFECT tie-in to my B-SIDES Series... I absolutely LOVE many of the HERMAN'S HERMITS flips that never got played on the radio ... and, if nothing else, it would present a totally rare and honest portrait of the artist ... who just MAY not be quite as lovable as you once thought. (In all fairness, the more I pressed, the more detailed answers I got to my questions ... some points were still ignored or skipped over ... but eventually PETER opened up and went into greater depth and detail with some of his answers. Re-reading everything now in the editing stage, I have to say that this is, in fact, a pretty darn good interview!)
So sit back and enjoy ... the PETER NOONE interview is next in FORGOTTEN HITS... along with some GREAT HERMAN'S HERMITS B-SIDES... including today's track, Walkin' With My Angel, a cover of an old Bobby Vee tune ... which has ALSO been nominated as one of your ALL TIME FAVORITE UNDISCOVERED B-SIDES. (This truly becomes the PERFECT tie-in, as we've been trying to interview BOBBY VEE for the past couple of years, too!!!) BOBBY's version backed up his #2, 1961 smash RUN TO HIM and charted on its own at #53 in Billboard Magazine. (It stopped at #89 in Cash Box ... and made our TOP 200 COUNTDOWN OF THE ALL-TIME BIGGEST TWO-SIDED HITS, coming in at #147! Unfortunately, that makes the BOBBY VEE version of WALKIN' WITH MY ANGEL ineligible for our FAVORITE, FORGOTTEN B-SIDES Series.) The HERMAN'S HERMITS version can be found on the flip-side of SILHOUETTES, a #5 smash (and a Chicagoland #1 Record) in 1965 ... and their version IS eligible for your votes.
BTW I asked PETER NOONE about my earlier comment that it seemed to me that he could be as "recognizable" as he chose to be ... and was a LITTLE bit surprised by his answer:
FORGOTTEN HITS 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?
PETER NOONE: Peter Noone is Herman is Peter Noone. I have mood swings and sometimes I am nice and then again I can say "____ off" if I want. ____ off! JOLLY WHAT?!?!? Did PETER NOONE just tell me to "____ Off" ?!?!?! For Real????? (I TOLD you this was going to be an interesting interview!!!! Besides, how many people do YOU know that have PERSONALLY been told to "____ Off" by PETER NOONE Stick around ... there's a WHOLE lot more to come!!!
Thursday, October 19, 2006
I found many of their OTHER B-SIDES to be extremely strong recordings, however ... in fact, I like SOME of these undiscovered flip-sides better than some of their chart making hits! (I truly believe that HERMAN'S HERMITS were denied additional chart rankings simply because some of these B-SIDES were never considered for radio airplay!)
Since I had been interviewing PETER NOONE anyway for an up-coming FORGOTTEN HITS feature, I figured that this might make the PERFECT way to kick off our new FAVORITE, FORGOTTEN B-SIDES SERIES ... the perfect LINK, if you will, between THE TOP 200 BIGGEST TWO-SIDED HITS OF ALL-TIME and your own B-SIDE FAVORITES!
Over the next several days, we'll explore some of my favorite HERMAN'S HERMITS B-SIDES ... and visit with group leader PETER NOONE. In the meantime, here's the one B-
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
We also uncovered this little bit of HERMAN'S HERMITS / NO MILK TODAY trivia during our talks:
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.
A LITTLE BIT of '60's
I've learned over the years ... and this seems to be true of
Anyway, HERMAN'S HERMITS released THEIR version of THE END OF THE WORLD as the B-
DIDJAKNOW?: Despite being one of their biggest
Monday, October 16, 2006
I just wanted to say something about Freddy Fender who the music world lost a couple of days ago. I told before on this blog how I heard much of my first country music from a juke box that blared away at the fishing lake that was across the street from the house where I grew up. I heard many of the country artists of the day from that very loud juke box. One of those I heard was Freddy Fender. He was a huge hit in the early 70’s with songs like “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” “Vaya Con Dios” and his biggest hit “Before the Next Teardrop Falls.” His real name was Baldermar Huerta and he was born on
Facing the furnace
"If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.
A candle in the darkness
"In 1989, Lazlo Tokes was the pastor of a fast-growing reformed church in the city of Timisoara, Romania. His powerful preaching had caught the attention of communist officials, and they began a strategy of suppression. Just before Christmas, they decided to send him into exile.
But when the police arrived to hustle Pastor Tokes away, they were stopped cold. Around the church stood a wall of humanity. Christians from around the city—Baptist, Pentecostal, Orthodox, Catholic—had joined together to protest.
All through the day they held their post. As it grew dark, a Baptist student named Daniel Gavra pulled out a packet of candles, lit one, and passed it on to his neighbor.
Then he lit another. One by one the burning candles were passed out among the crowd. Soon the darkness of the December night was pierced by the light of hundreds of candles. When Pastor Tokes looked out his window, he saw a sea of faces lit up by a warm glow.
Two days later, police finally broke through the crowd and dragged Pastor Tokes away. But that was not the end. People streamed to the city square. Hundreds were shot, Young Daniel's leg was blown off. Yet the brave example set in Timisoara inspired the rest of the nation. Within days, the entire population of Romania had risen up and the bloody dictator Ceausescu was gone.