Enjoying the 60s all over again

They were two different concerts with 50 years separating them, however at least two people were present at both concerts.

The second event was Saturday night, March 19 at the S.E. Belcher Jr. Chapel and Performance Center on the campus of LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas.

Hermans Hermimts 16
Photo from Peter Noone and Herman’s Hermits Longview, Texas performance — March 2016

The evening’s playbill in the East Texas city on a chilly night was Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone. If your birth certificate bears a date that is anywhere near mine, and you grew up listening to popular music of our youth, you’ll recognize the name. For generations younger or older than you and me, Herman’s Hermits was one of the more popular groups associated with the period in American pop music dubbed the British Invasion.

At a time when names like Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson, Pat Boone, and Fats Domino dominated buttons on the juke box at the hamburger joints and malt shops, a group from England calling themselves the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. That national broadcast on a Sunday night in February of 1964 changed music forever. The Beatles opened musical gates between England and the U.S. shores, and British singing groups flooded America’s music listening youth who greeted them with open arms.

Herman's Hermits
Poster from Herman’s Hermits Dallas, Texas performance — July 1966

One of those bands was Herman’s Hermits whose lead singer was a 15-year-old by the name of Peter Noone. According to Noone’s website, Peter Blair Denis Bernard Noone was born in Manchester, England, studied voice and acting at St. Bede’s College and the Manchester School of Music and Drama. As a child, he played in the long-running British soap opera Coronation Street and other television series before becoming known as “Herman,” lead singer of the legendary 60s pop band Herman’s Hermits.

At the Longview, Texas show last Saturday, Noone and the Hermits performed most of their classic hits from the mid 60s including: “I’m Into Something Good,” “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter,” “I’m Henry VIII, I Am,” “Silhouettes,” “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat,” “There’s A Kind of Hush,” “A Must To Avoid,” “Listen People,” “The End of the World,” and “Dandy.” Noone also demonstrated remarkable skill as an impersonator pulling off believable mimics of Johnny Cash, Mick Jagger and Tom Jones, much to the delight of the audience that was dominated by a gray haired, retirement age demographic.

Noone’s site also reports that Herman’s Hermits sold more than sixty million recordings producing fourteen singles and seven albums that reached Gold Record status. The Hermits were also twice named Cashbox magazine’s “Entertainer of the Year.”

The group was on the cover of Time Magazine, performed on top-rated television programs including appearances with Ed Sullivan, Jackie Gleason, Dean Martin and Danny Kaye. Noone starred in ABC’s musical version of The Canterville Ghost, Hallmark Hall of Fame’s presentation of the classic Pinocchio (in which he played the title role) and three feature films for M-G-M.

When music changed once again moving into the 70s and 80s, Noone’s success continued in other arenas. He performed, composed songs and produced recordings with artists such as David Bowie, Debby Boone and Graham Gouldman. His album with the Tremblers, Twice Nightly and his solo effort One of The Glory Boys were both critically and commercially successful. He had leading roles in numerous theatrical productions and in the 80s, starred on Broadway in the New York Shakespeare Festival’s production of The Pirates of Penzance. He also enjoyed an acting career with guest-starring roles in prime-time television shows such as: Married With Children, My Two Dads, Quantum Leap, Dave’s World, Easy Street, Too Close For Comfort and Laverne and Shirley.

Accompanied by his band, Herman’s Hermits, Noone still plays to venues the world over, and enjoys a faithful following of not only aging fans who enjoyed the music back in the day, but also newer generations of fans that has prompted VH-1 to select him as their viewer’s choice for the “Sexiest Artist of the Year.”

All this for a guy whose performance Saturday night looked and sounded like he was still a teenager as he joked about being 68, and thereby “enjoying the 60s all over again.”

Oh, the first concert? That was at the Dallas Memorial Auditorium in July of 1966 where the performers were also Herman’s Hermits and the Animals, another 60s Band from England. That group headed by Eric Burdon was known more for music with a little more bluesy and edgy sound than the polished and squeaky clean sound of Herman’s Hermits, but no less popular among young Americans filling the concert halls and buying the records.

Oh yes, I did say at least two people were at both concerts, didn’t I. Who were they? Well, one was Peter Noone, obviously. The other one was me. Enjoying the music and enjoying smiles from memories generated by Saturday’s performance in Longview was was a throwback to the summer following my high school graduation when I watched Noone and his band perform the same songs in Dallas. That was a time when Noone and I both were enjoying the 60s…the first time.

— Leon Aldridge



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