2 Jun 2014
MUSIC: Peter Noone is still into something good
Life's as good as ever for the Herman's Hermits frontman — just don't look for him on the golf course
By Michael C. Moore
Posted June 2, 2014 at 1:33 p.m.
Peter Noone is still into something good
Peter Noone lives on a golf course, but claims he’s only ever played the game one time.
“It’s a commitment that I can’t make,” the veteran bandleader — he’s fronted various incarnations of Herman’s Hermits since 1962 — and entertainer said via telephone from his home near Santa Barbara, Calif. “I’d have to spend too much time to get good at it, and I don’t want to do anything if I can’t be good at it.”
Still, Noone joked, living on a golf course does have its advantages.
“Well, it’s 200 acres of grass I don’t have to mow, isn’t it?”
Noone has made his point. He’s too busy for golf lessons, and too busy to find the time to play, anyway. He said the current incarnation of Herman’s Hermits plays about 100 dates a year, a regime he balances with a syndicated ratio program he researches and records at home, plus numerous solo appearances and much, much travel.
“I’m a fan of travel,” said Noone, who pointed out that he was home for a whopping one day to pick up his wife (he and Mireille have been married since 1968), returning from London before flying off with her to Baton Rough, La., and then Amsterdam. “I travel well. It’s always been an adventure for me.”
It makes no difference to Noone — and he claims it never did, even back in his days of heavy touring, when Herman’s Hermits were one of the biggest-selling acts in pop, stringing together hits like “I’m Into Something Good,” “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter,” “I’m Henry VIII, I Am” and “There’s a Kind of Hush.”
“I still have the same enthusiasm (for playing live). It’s not about youth, it’s about enthusiasm,” said Noone, who turns 67 in November but has retained much of the boyish visage that earned him a young-girl fan base that rivaled that of the Beatles back in the mid-1960s, when waves of the British Invasion were washing up on shores around the world. “Every show is glamorous to us. We’re working class people. We’re like plumbers, we go and get the work done.”
Noone said he still gets a kick out of playing the old Herman’s Hits for whatever audience will come out to see him, whether it’s big concert halls, theaters like the Admiral (where he and the Hermits cap the venue’s 2013-14 subscription season with a June 7 concert) to casinos (they play June 28 at the Spirit Mountain Casino in Grand Ronde, Ore., on a bill with the Monkees’ Mickey Dolenz).
But the big hits aren’t all you’re liable to hear from Noone, who wrote and recorded as a solo act and as a member of the band The Tremblers, as well as working with other artists, guesting on numerous TV shows and working frequently in musical theater before getting back on the Herman’s Hermits bus.
“We know about 300 songs that we can play really well,” Noone said of his current band, which includes guitarists Vance Brescia and Billy Sullivan, bassist Rich Spina and drummer Dave Ferrara. “We don’t really have a set list, although we usually start with ‘I’m Into Something Good,’ and then ‘Wonderful World.’ There’s others that you sort of have to play — ‘Mrs. Brown,’ ‘Henry,’ ‘Kind of Hush’ — but we can’t have a set list, or we’d lose focus. We might play a Johnny Cash song, or Conway Twitty, or Gerry and the Pacemakers.
“We like to change things around, which is fun for us and keeps us focused, and I think audiences like it, too.”
Noone described himself, at the height of his popularity, as a performer “who’s never learned to say no.”
“Someone would ask, ‘Would you like to do a Broadway show?’, and I’d say ‘Yeah.’ I like to work. I like people to think I’m a working-class guy.”
Although his schedule — between the Hermits and his other pursuits, which includes his estimation of 20 studio hours for each finished 3-hour radio program — might seem hectic, Noone said he prefers his present regimen to the Hermits’ touring in the 1960s.
“We were some of the first ones out there,” he said of the original Hermits. “The Beatles were the first ones to do it, and it was all new to them. When I was 16 and the Beatles were 22, they had so much information. Mostly back then, we just worked it for what it was. We were on this run, and we had no plans.”
One of the things he said he enjoys the most is seeing some of his oldest fans introduce him and his music to new generations. He said the band recently did a weeklong engagement at the Epcot Center at Walt Disney World, and that looking out at the audiences there was like a “four-generation family.”
“Our music has some longevity,” he said of himself and the other Sixties bands who still are out playing live. “As long as the Stones are touring, I figure I’ve got 20 more years in the business.”
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