Monday, August 27, 2007

Forgotten Hits Press Release


According to an exclusive interview published today by FORGOTTEN HITS, the online oldies music newsletter, '60's Pop Icon PETER NOONE will be arrested at 7:10 AM on Tuesday, September 4th, 2007, when his plane lands at London's Heathrow Airport. Charges stem from an United Kingdom High Court Order prohibiting NOONE from using the name HERMAN'S HERMITS, the band he fronted from 1964-1971, in the U.K..

"It's ludicrous," says FORGOTTEN HITS Publisher KENT KOTAL. "How many members of HERMAN'S HERMITS can YOU name?"

Apparently, the U.K. rights to the name HERMAN'S HERMITS belong to a man named BARRY WHITWAM. "Who???" you may ask. WHITWAM was the original drummer for HERMAN'S HERMITS when they first hit the pop charts back in 1964 and has kept the band actively touring since NOONE's departure in 1971 to pursue a solo career. (Odds are WHITWAM's name was NOT the first one that popped into your head when you first saw the name "HERMAN'S HERMITS.") Ironically, according to NOONE, WHITWAM doesn't even appear on a number of HERMAN'S HERMITS recordings, replaced instead by a studio session musician!

PETER NOONE has been touring as HERMAN'S HERMITS Starring PETER NOONE for a couple of decades now, as legally mandated by a British High Court Order several years ago. He has remained a popular concert attraction, playing to full houses all over the world who remember the feel-good music that he and his band of Hermits created back in the '60's. This past season, he also appeared as a mentor and performing artist on the #1 Ranked Television Series AMERICAN IDOL.

In the FORGOTTEN HITS Interview, NOONE explains the break-up and legal distribution of HERMAN'S HERMITS name this way:

"After we agreed to split, Keith Hopwood, Derek Leckenby, Karl Green and Barry Whitwam called themselves by a new name. I sadly have forgotten it. I think they were joined by Pete Cowap (a great local musician whom I had written a few Herman's Hermits B-sides and LP tracks with and who was a close friend of Derek Leckenby.) They were called blue something.

"Then one day they became The Hermits. It sort of made sense for The Hermits to call themselves "THE HERMITS" and NOT Herman's Hermits. They did a concert in the UK that billed them as Herman's Hermits and got in trouble with disgruntled fans. After a few attempts as The Hermits, suddenly one day they became Herman's Hermits. I think 'Herman's' is sort of a possessive word and would lead the public to believe that Herman was going to be there." Legend has it that NOONE became "HERMAN" because of his resemblance to a popular cartoon character at the time named "Sherman" ... PETER NOONE and "HERMAN" have been interchangeable monikers ever since.

"Keith then left Herman's Hermits and the other three Hermits --- Derek, Karl and Barry --- asked to use the name and, as I felt sorry for them, (they couldn't get work), I allowed them to use the name and pay me a royalty. In the early '70s I made a deal with the remaining three Hermits -- Derek, Karl and Barry -- to use the name for 10 years. After 10 years, they (Barry) decided that HE owned the name. He agreed to let me call myself Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone as my legal advisors suggested it would allow the public to choose between Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone and Herman's Hermits starring Barry Whitwam. I readily agreed to this and apparently so did he. BUT this has only been tested in the USA and Canada. Since that agreement between us was made, he has played maybe 5 concerts in the States and you can safely say that the public has chosen here."

Some of the animosity between Noone and his former bandmates stem from disclosures that other musicians augmented Herman's Hermits sound on their records.

"There was a period where we (Producer Mickie Most 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," Noone says. "Sometimes Mickie Most and I were callous and unkind in our attempts to catch up with the rest of our fellow invaders, and as the use of overdubs became more and more a part of the recording process, a lot of musicians became unusable. I am saddened that I ever hurt anyone in the process, but in my defense, I was a 17 year old."

Despite some semblance of remorse, Noone ALSO admits that he wouldn't have done it any other way: "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." Noone offers further apologies on his website at peternoone.com.

Meanwhile, Barry Whitwam currently lists a total of 26 songs on his HERMAN'S HERMITS U.K. website as part of the band's discography ... yet Peter Noone claims that Whitwam didn't even play on 18 of these tracks! Claiming these records as part of the current band's discography goes a step or two beyond rewriting history ... it constitutes fraud! Noone, along with original HERMITS' guitarist KEITH HOPWOOD, are compiling a list of ALL of HERMAN'S HERMITS recordings, denoting which musicians actually played on which tracks so that a permanent, accurate history of these recordings will now exist.

Despite this bit of long-standing discrepancy and bitterness, the heart of the CURRENT matter will be deciding exactly WHO has the legal rights to promote themselves as HERMAN'S HERMITS, with or without any form of further clarification. "It was never intended to have any one member of the Herman's Hermits own the right to call himself Herman's Hermits!!!" Noone says. "As I agreed to the three original Hermits using the name long ago, I opened myself up to Barry and whoever else wants to call themselves Herman's Hermits using the name. There is also a version in Spain which has Frank Renshaw (I don't know him at all!!!) His claim is he was in one of Barry Whitwam's versions of Herman's Hermits so therefore he has claim. IT WAS NEVER intended for BARRY WHITWAM to hijack the name and use it with others. He agreed that I could call myself Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone and that he would call himself Herman's Hermits starring Barry Whitwam. Of course he forgot to mention this in his tirade against me."

Lest anyone feel this report to be too one-sided, please know that BARRY WHITWAM did not respond to ANY of the half dozen requests extended him to comment on these issues as part of the FORGOTTEN HITS Series. Coincidently, he DID recently tell THE BEAT, a U.K. Music Publication, that he has "almost finished my book about my life and times with the band ... and there's a lovely chapter about Peter Noone ... which should surprise his U.S.A. fans."

Those U.S.A. fans have already decided which version of Herman's Hermits THEY prefer to see. "Peter Noone is Herman is Peter Noone," Noone proudly says. Although he left the persona for a short time trying to develop a more "contemporary" career as both a solo artist, an actor and as a member of The Tremblers, Noone says it took LEAVING the "Herman" persona behind to make him realize just how good he actually WAS at being "Herman." He has embraced his past and musical accomplishments ever since. Now we'll just have to wait and see if the London courts continue to allow him to do so.




For the complete story on this topic ... exactly as it unfolded in FORGOTTEN HITS ... simply send an email to ForgottenHits@aol.com and request a copy of this series. Further inquiries can be addressed to:

Kent Kotal
The60sShop@aol.com
FORGOTTEN HITS
ForgottenHits@aol.com
(630) 207 - 1100