It’s Noone hour

Formed in 1964 in Manchester, England, Herman’s Hermits would go on to sell more than 80 million records internationally with an enviable catalogue of hits including “I’m Into Something Good” and “There’s A Kind Of Hush (All Over The World)”.

In the six years that followed their formation, the band would lodge 20 Top 40 singles in England and the United States with no less than 16 of those singles making it to the ranks of the Top 20 singles of the day. This success effectively put them in the same company as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, although for all of their commercial success, the group was widely derided by critics.

Herman’s Hermits vocalist Peter Noone says that he and the rest of the band could have cared less what a bunch of stuffy critics felt about their music. They were doing something that they loved and that was all that truly mattered.

“We didn’t ever care whether or not we had critical success. To us, those people that were the naysayers were the ones that weren’t in a band but wished they were,” Noone tells The Times & Transcript. “We came from the background from where we didn’t consider ourselves musicians as much as we considered ourselves entertainers.

“Back then, there were two types of bands: You had The Beatles who represented the best of musicians and then you had bands like us who simply wanted to have a hit record.”

Noone says that perhaps to the surprise of many, some of the most popular bands of Herman’s Hermits heyday were all good friends who looked out for one another.

To Noone’s point, John Lennon told Rolling Stone Magazine in the February 4, 1971 issue that “We never came out together, we’re not idiots,” referring to the fact that even though The Beatles record sales could have trumped anyone at the time, they were very conscious around the timing of their releases so that they did not negatively impact their friends’ record sales.

“The most important thing,” Noone says, “was just to be on the charts back then.

There was no competition between The Beatles and The Stones or between us and The Beatles. It wasn’t ever a competition, it couldn’t be.”

Noone says that bands were so friendly to one another, they would often offer travel tips to comrades when travelling to foreign destinations for the first time.

“Lennon found out that me and the Hermits were heading to the Philippines at one point and he rang and advised us to ‘Say yes to everything!’

“I recently played some shows in China and noticed that both The Turtles and Eric Burdon were playing there soon after so I shot e-mails off to them both and recommended they stay at a different hotel than what the venue was going to offer them.

“It is a strange camaraderie, but that’s the way we operate.”

Noone would leave Herman’s Hermits behind in 1970, moving on to work in theatre and television. He admits that he questioned his decision to leave the band on more than one occasion through the years.

“I always questioned my decision,” he admits. “I had left Herman’s Hermits because I had loads of things that I had wanted to do. I wanted to go on Broadway, for instance and figured that I could do so because I’m Peter Noone,” he laughs.

“It took me 10 years to get onto Broadway though and by the time I had gotten there, people had forgotten who Herman’s Hermits was.”

Noone says that he used his spare time to learn skills that he thought he should have in his back pocket, including taking dancing and singing lessons.

It was a persistent club owner from Kitchener, Ontario who ran Lulu’s Nightclub who eventually enticed Noone to pick up the microphone once again.

“That club owner called every two weeks asking if I would come perform. He offered a backing band, time for rehearsal, everything. And eventually, I succumbed to his wishes. I went up to Kitchener and rehearsed with the band and on the night of the show, I walked on stage to 3,000 people in the audience.”

Noone said it was during the band’s mega hit “Into Something Good” that he realized that he was finally back at home on the concert stage.

“It was like a spiritual awakening that night,” he says. “I had spent the previous 12 years ignoring this stuff and not singing whatsoever. But that night, I finally realized that this is what I should be doing. I quickly became addicted to performing again; playing 10 shows the first year, 20 shows the following year and eventually ramped up to the 100 or so shows per year that we play now.”

While the bulk of the shows Noone and his band perform take place in North America, they still find the time to make it to far away places like Asia every once in a while.

Together with the same backing band for the past 18 years, Noone jokes that people might be incredibly disappointed to find out what they do with their spare time backstage.

“We are sick people,” he laughs. “Instead of booze and girls in our dressing rooms, we spend our free time before we go on stage playing other people’s songs. That has become a big part of this hobby.

“At the end of the day though, I couldn’t wish for anything better than the musical companionship that I have found with the guys in the band.”

Article published in the November 19, 2010 edition of the Times & Transcript