Thursday, October 01, 2009
I'm Into Something Good: Herman's Hermits
I was telling a friend last night about the time I saw Herman's Hermits perform at a local fair a good ten years ago. "Who are Herman's Hermits?" she asked me. The short answer that I gave is that they were a British invasion band of the 1960s who tried to follow in the footsteps of the Beatles. The long answer, I realized, would make a perfect blog post.
Once I named some of their songs, she realized who they were. History seems to have forgotten this very successful band. Herman's Hermits released what I like to refer to as pure pleasure pop - lip smacking sugary hits such as a contemporary version of a British music hall song, "I'm Henry the Eighth, I'm Am", "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter", "Wonderful World" (a cover of the Sam Cooke song), "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat", "A Must to Avoid", "Listen People", and "There's a Kind of Hush." These were all hits in the U.S. - pretty remarkable when only one song saw success in their native UK, "I'm Into Something Good" (also a hit in the U.S.)
The group was made up of five Manchester boys: Keith Hopwood, Derek Leckenby, Barry Whitwam, Karl Green, and their cheeky fresh faced lead singer, Peter Noone (aka Herman.) They were presented as being clean cut fun - the perfect dreamy boys for any teen girl to tape to her wall. Noone was quickly singled out as a teen idol and I find it quite funny that in all of the Tiger Beats of the day he was regularly referred to as Herman. According to the October 1967 issue of Hullaboo, here is how Herman's Hermits got their name:
The name, Herman, came from a misunderstanding of the name Sherman of The Bullwinkle Show. Peter bears an amazing resemblance to this cartoon character. The name, Herman's Hermits comes from a sing-song rhyme addition based on Herman the Hermit. First, they were Herman and the Hermits; then Herman's Hermits.
A British invasion band's resume would not be complete without a couple of movies and in fact, Herman's Hermits did star in a few films. One of them was the obviously named "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter" (such a mouthful for a movie title, even if it was taken from one of their songs.) Noone himself had been a child actor, but it's safe to say the movie didn't stretch his talent. This 1968 flick, which will probably never see the light of day on DVD, has probably one of the best taglines in cinematic history: "You've got to sing...swing..and do your own thing...And no one does it better in merry young London than Herman's Hermits!" Needless to say, they really went to the dogs in this movie...as Mrs. Brown turns out to be a greyhound.
Sadly, none of the band's hits were written by the group themselves, even though they were competent musicians in their own right. Their own songs were reserved for B-sides and album cuts. When the 60s faded away, so did Herman's Hermits eventually, but Noone is still active (and quite cute) today.
This group has one of the best official sites of many pop bands of the 60s - it's just chock full of tons of photos and archived magazine articles. To play you out, here's a clip of the group performing "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter."