His name isn’t Herman and he’s certainly not Henry the VII.
But Peter Noone did become famous as the leader of the 1960s band Herman’s Hermits. As such, he recorded the band’s mega hit, “I’m Henry the Eighth, I Am.”
Today, Noone is still touring. On Jan. 14, the Herman’s Hermits Show Starring Peter Noone will be at Trustees Theater.
“I’ve got a good show,” Noone says. “We do all the hits and I do a lot of parodies.
“I have a lot of fun with the audience. We get all ages.
“I think most people know how good we are and how enthusiastic we are,” he says. “We start up with ‘I’m Into Something Good’ and try to make the songs as good as the records.”
Twice named Cashbox’s Entertainer of the Year, Herman’s Hermits sold more than 60 million recordings, with 14 gold singles and seven gold albums.
Formed in Manchester, England, in 1964, the original members were Noone, Keith Hopwood, Derek “Lek” Leckenby, Karl Green and Barry Whitwam. They played rhythm and blues, but at producer Mickie Most’s insistence, they took on a wholesome, clean-cut image that helped them become hugely successful in the mid-1960s.
The band was originally called Herman and His Hermits, a name chosen because Noone supposedly resembled Sherman of “Rocky and Bullwinkle” fame. Sherman was soon shortened to Herman, and the group name was shortened to Herman’s Hermits.
The band’s first hit was “I’m Into Something Good.” In the U.S., Herman’s Hermits had two No. 1 Billboard hits with “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” and “I’m Henry the Eighth, I Am,” both geared specifically toward American audiences.
Herman’s Hermits also had a hit with “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat.” Their other songs include “Silhouettes,” “Wonderful World,” “Just a Little Bit Better,” “A Must to Avoid,” “Listen People,” “Leaning on a Lamp Post,” “Dandy” and “There’s A Kind of Hush.”
“Henry the Eighth” was not a new song, but actually dates to 1911. It was often sung by Noone’s Irish grandfather.
The entire family was musical, so music was always a part of Noone’s life.
“I came from a family where everybody played,” he says. “It was the generation before television.
“At baptisms, funerals, weddings — everybody in the family entertained everybody. My grandfather was an organ player, my grandmother a choir mistress.
“My Auntie Mary was a piano player,” Noone says. “It got all thrown in together.”
As a child, Noone studied voice and drama at the Manchester School of Music, where he won the Outstanding Young Musician Award.
Fame came early for Noone, who played a number of acting roles on television. At the age of 12, he landed the role of Stanley Fairclough in the British TV soap opera “Coronation Street,” England’s No. 1 show.
“I was an actor because I went to a school of music,” he says. “I joined all the classes just to not be bored.
“One was an acting class,” Noone says. “They were looking for a 12-year-old boy who didn’t need to have talent and I got the part.”
By the time he was 13, Noone was part of a band.
“I did it as a hobby,” he says. “I did it so long, I got good at it.
“Music just seemed to be a way you could shine more. I was in a band called The Cyclones.
“We went into the youth clubs,” Noone says. “Children after World War II had a new freedom their parents never had.”
Noone made his public musical debut by default.
“I walked into this youth club where everybody was 12 or 13,” he says. “The band hadn’t shown up and everyone said, ‘There’s Peter, he’s a singer.’”
Noone was just 15 when Herman’s Hermits was founded.
“We never had enough money to eat,” he says. “We ate at my grandmother’s, who was always ready to cook for everybody.
“On the way home from gigs, we’d stop at fish and chips shops. But we could only afford the chips, not the fish.
“The only way to get good was to play a lot,” Noone says. “We got good quickly.”
Herman’s Hermits’ best years were 1965 and 1966, when they rivaled The Beatles on the U.S. charts. In 1965, the band was the top-selling pop act in the States, and was nominated for two Grammy awards for “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter.”
In addition to music, Herman’s Hermits appeared in several MGM films, including “When the Boys Meet the Girls” in 1965 and “Hold On!” in 1966. They also starred in the film “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” in 1968 and appeared in “Pop Gear” in 1965.
The group made the round of popular television variety shows of the time, including “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “The Dean Martin Show,” “The Danny Kaye Show” and “The Jackie Gleason Show.” Noone appeared on the cover of many international publications, including Time magazine, and acted in several American television roles.
Although Herman’s Hermits became hugely popular, Noone remained modest.
“The Beatles and Elvis were so cool,” he says. “We weren’t very cool.
“People bought the records before they saw us. Then we became teen idols.”
But fame is often fleeting.
“I knew that The Monkees would be there to replace us, because it doesn’t last,” Noone says. “But we had 20 hit records. We were much bigger than the flash in the pan we thought we were.”
In the entertainment industry, it’s important to have diverse talents to survive and thrive.
“I was lucky I was a musician,” Noone says. “I turned into an entertainer. Some of us got lucky and learned the tricks of the trade.
“I built a show around my hit records,” he says. “Over the years, I’ve done all kinds of stuff.”
Audiences love Noone now as much as they once did.
“I can see how enthusiastic they are,” he says. “Just being in the room instantly takes away 40 years.
“Mick Jagger in real life is 73 and onstage he’s 25,” Noone says. “When he’s onstage, he thinks and acts like he’s 25.”
Although he thought he was prepared when the first flash of fame passed, Noone found himself in an odd place.
“I was 24 and I was on an oldies-but-goodies tour and that confused me,” he says. “I thought I was too young to be out there.
“I’ve always been the youngest one out there,” Noone says. “I wondered, ‘Does this mean I’m not going to do this much longer?’”
But despite the worry, Noone has had a steady career. He thinks the diversity between all the musical groups of the time was a big help.
“The Beatles weren’t like The Stones, The Stones weren’t like The Who, The Who weren’t like Herman’s Hermits,” Noone says. “That is really keeping me out there.
“People ask, ‘What is the secret of your success?’ I say, ‘You had to have your own style. We couldn’t all be The Beatles.’”
Today at 69, Noone is instantly recognizable.
“I just look like a 60-ish version of Peter Noone,” he says. “I always wanted to look older.
“I dreamed of being 25 so my dad wouldn’t have to cosign my insurance. When I first started, John Lennon would get me a drink at the bar because I couldn’t get one myself.”
Fame never hurt Noone the way it did some of the other idols of his generation. There have been no scandals, no trips to rehab.
He married his wife, Mireille, in 1968, and they’re still together. Their daughter, Natalie, is also a singer-songwriter.
“Everyone married young in those days,” Noone says. “My friends all married at 18.
“I think you’ve got to find the right one the first time. It was simple for me.
“I married the nicest person I ever met,” he says. “When I first met her, I said, ‘This is who I’m looking for.’”
A naturalized U.S. citizen, Noone lives in both California and England.
“We’re on tour this round for 130 concerts,” he says. “We go round and round the country.
“We have a great fan club,” Noone says. “We’re just proud we still have an audience.”
IF YOU GO
What: The Herman’s Hermits Show Starring Peter Noone
When: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 14
Where: Trustees Theater, 216 E. Broughton St.
Cost: $54, $59, $64
Info: savannahboxoffice.com, 912-525-5050