When Herman’s Hermits starring singer-actor and TV-radio host Peter Noone land at the Canyon Santa Clarita Sunday, Sept. 2, it’ll be like the 1960s British Invasion all over again.
Noone was just a 15-year-old schoolkid in Manchester when he became the group’s lead singer in 1963, as original fans know (and younger fans discover by tuning in to Noone’s acclaimed “Something Good” show on Sirius-XM Channel 6 on Saturday afternoons).
Discovered by impresario Harvey Lisberg, Noone and the group connected with producer Mickie Most (The Animals, Lulu, Donovan) and scored their first U.K.-U.S. hit in autumn 1964 with “I’m Into Something Good.”
For the next four years, Herman’s Hermits scored hit after hit – “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat,” “Silhouettes” (The Rays’ doo-wop classic), “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” (first U.S. No. 1), “Wonderful World” (a nod to Sam Cooke with Jimmy Page on guitar), “I’m Henry the VIII, I Am” (recorded in one take and the second U.S. No. 1), “Just a Little Bit Better,” “A Must to Avoid,” “Listen, People,” “Leaning on the Lamp Post,” “Dandy,” “There’s a Kind of Hush” and “No Milk Today.”
Teenage girls went nuts over Noone and his boyish looks, crooked teeth and goofy facial expressions. His toothy grin graced the covers of fanzines worldwide, and even Time Magazine on May 21, 1965.
The Hermits made their “Ed Sullivan Show” debut just two weeks later; by then, Beatlemaniacs were being out-screamed by younger “Noonatics.”
“We were the same age as the audience, which was different from The Beatles –
they were already men, but we were still boys,” Noone said on a recent call from his home in the Santa Barbara area.
(In)famously out-selling The Fab Four in the U.S. in ’65, Herman’s Hermits eventually sold 60 million records, amassed 14 gold singles and seven gold albums, and earned Cashbox’s “Entertainer of the Year” accolade twice before Noone disbanded the group and went solo in 1971.
He has orbited in the music, film, TV and Broadway universe ever since (check out his website (https://peternoone.com/) and IMBD page (https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0634760/) for way too many credits to list here).
Noone reconstituted Herman’s Hermits in the ’80s, and they play around 200 gigs a year. The day after we spoke, he was off to Hyannis, Massachusetts to share a bill with Tommy James & The Shondells.
“It’s been the same guys for 20-something years,” he said. “Dave Ferrara (drums) has been in the longest, but he’s the youngest. Vance Breschia (guitar) wrote songs for The Monkees. Billy Sullivan (guitar)was with Gary Puckett & The Union Gap. And Rich Spina (keyboard) was with Mitch Ryder and The Raspberries. So, we’ve got good guys, we all like each other, and musically, we’re on the same page.
“We start with ‘I’m Into Something Good,’ then do ‘Wonderful World’ and all the hits,” Noone said. “And I throw in ideas – songs by the Stones, The Monkees, The Beatles, Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty – even Tom Jones. We know 300 songs, so what we do just depends on how good the audience is. We have a fun show.”
At 70, Noone says he’s still living the dream. “I’m a fan of music, and I get to do it,” he said. “I get to play with Tommy James, hang out with Tom Jones. I see the Stones when they’re around. For a musician, it doesn’t get much better.”
Local talent Savannah Burrows will be opening for Noone and Herman’s Hermits.
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Find the Canyon Santa Clarita on the ground floor of the Westfield Valencia Town Center. Get tickets at the box office 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, by phone at 888-645-5006, or via TicketMaster.com. For more info, visit WheremusicmeetstheSoul.com.
Stephen K. Peeples is a Grammy-nominated record producer and award-winning radio producer and journalist based in the Santa Clarita Valley. He has covered the SCV music scene for local media since 2004. Contact him via stephenkpeeples.com.