Perhaps best known for such light-hearted mid-sixties hits as “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter,” and “I’m Henry the VIII, I Am,” as well as the gentle “There’s a Kind of Hush,” Herman’s Hermits provided a bridge between the non-confrontational style of 1950s lyrics and the Mersey Sound brought to the world’s attention by the Beatles. While their ultimate impact on the music industry was not as great as that of other members of the British Invasion (including the Beatles, the Animals, and the Moody Blues) the Hermits did enjoy their degree of success. Between 1965 and 1966 they placed nine songs in a row in the Top Ten—a feat even the Beatles could not claim.
Organized first as The Heartbeats in 1962 or 1963 (sources differ), the group featured 16-year-old vocalist and guitarist Peter Noone and included Keith Hopwood on guitar, Karl Greene also on guitar and harmonica, Derek Leckenby on guitar, too, and Barry Whitwam playing the drums. According to Rock On, the name change was inspired by Noone’s supposed resemblance to the cartoon character Sherman in the
Band formed originally under the name the Heartbeats, in 1962 or 1963, in Manchester, England, by guitar player Keith Hopwood (born October 26, 1946, in Manchester, England); vocalist and guitarist Peter Blair Denis Bernard “Herman” Noone (born November 5, 1947, in Manchester, England); guitar and harmonica player Karl Anthony Greene (born July 31, 1946 or 1947, in Salford, England); guitarist Derek “Lek” Leckenby (born May 14, 1945 or 1946, in Leeds, England); and drummer Barry Whitwam (born July 31, 1946 or1947, 1946, in Leeds, England); and drummer Barry Whitwam (born July 21, 1946).
Toured, performed, and recorded after signing with record producer Mickie Most in 1964; released two Number 1 singles in 1965, “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter,” and “I’m Henry VIH, I Am”; traveled to Los Angeles, Calif., in 1965 to make the film, Where the Boys Meet the Girls; after Noone’s departure in 1971, dissolved; reformed for concerts in 1973, 1980, and 1986.
Addresses: Record company— ABKCO Records Inc., 1700 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.
television cartoon show, Rocky and His Friends (remember Mr. Peabody, Bullwinkle, Natasha, and Dudley Do-Right?). The nickname Herman stuck, and producer Mickie Most encouraged the group to adopt the name Herman’s Hermits. After gaining a strong reputation in Manchester, the Hermits began their recording career in 1964. Their first hit came the same year with “I’m Into Something Good” by Carole King and Gerry Goffin. It would be the first of a string of hits that lasted nearly four years. In 1965, “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat” became their first smash hit, followed by “Silhouettes,” and “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter,” the latter of which went on to become a gold single. Riding partly on the popularity of the Beatles and the youthful appeal of Noone, the group made a successful tour of the United States. Their music and film When the Boys Meet the Girls were well received by the younger set—especially after the Beatles began their slow metamorphosis away from the Fab Four Image. Other hits in 1965 included “Wonderful World” and the amusing gold single “I’m Henry the VIII, I Am.” Remarkable in 1966 was “Dandy” and in 1967 the two-sided hit single “There’s a Kind of Hush/No Milk Today.” Despite a lack of new albums, the Hermits remained together until mid-1971, playing small clubs both in England and in the United States, where they had always been better recognized. Taking back his own name, Noone had already undertaken a solo career, feeling the group had run its course. “I’m not ashamed of my past career as Herman,” he commented. “Twenty-two hit singles and world sales of 40 million is nothing to be embarrassed about, but I’ve felt for some time that we have realized our potential as Herman’s Hermits. I now need the freedom and broader scope of an individual.” He was to pursue both musical and acting careers, resurrecting the Hermits for several rock revival shows and television shows, and finally reemerging in 1980 with a New Wave Los Angeles-based band called the Tremblers. Without Noone, the other Hermits reformed first in 1973 without much success and later in 1986 to tour with former members of other sixties acts the Monkees, the Grass Roots, and Gary Puckett. In Ontario, their 25-minute slot earned them a standing ovation, though, according to Kerry Doole for Rock Express, “These songs are better than the singers; it’s a bit embarrassing hearing a 40-year-old sing about being taken home to meet his girlfriend’s Dad.”
Despite such criticism, it is worth noting that that tour was one of the hottest in North America for that year, well-attended by yesterday’s teenyboppers as well as their kids. Something in the music survives and continues to entertain and touch the heart of the listener, and the band’s continued success is a reminder of that fact. The appeal of the Hermits’ brand of sweetness lives on; after all, what worked in 1965 and what works today is essentially the same. “Mum and dad used to (so they say),” was the wisdom of the Hermits’ song “Mum and Dad.” “Mum and dad used to every day. So why can’t I and why can’t you, begin to? Begin to fall in love.” Some things don’t change.
Herman’s Hermits, Columbia and MGM, 1965.
The Best of Herman’s Hermits, Columbia and MGM, 1965.
Introducing Herman’s Hermits, MGM, 1965.
Herman’s Hermits, on Tour, MGM, 1965.
When the Boys Meet the Girls, MGM, 1965.
Both Sides of Herman’s Hermits, Columbia and MGM, 1966.
Herman’s Hermits on Tour, MGM, 1966.
Lucky 13, Columbia, 1966.
Hold On (soundtrack), MGM, 1966.
Best of Herman’s Hermits, Vol. 2, MGM, 1966.
There’s a Kind of Hush, Columbia, 1967.
X15, Columbia, 1967.
Blaze, Columbia, 1967.
Mrs. Brown (soundtrack), Columbia, 1968.
Best of Herman’s Hermits, Vol. 3, MGM, 1968.
The Best of UK, Columbia, 1969.
Very Best of Herman’s Hermits, MFP, 1984.
Nite, Norm N., Rock On!, Harper & Row, 1984.
Stambler, Irwin, Encyclopedia of Pop, RockandSoul, St. Martin’s Press, 1989.
High Fidelity, April 1988.
Rock Express, Number 106, 1986.
Rolling Stone, July 14, 1988 (British Invasion Supplement).
—Meg Mac Donald
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