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Peter Noone


Interview

The Herman’s Hermits hitmaker talks about starring with the ever-popular Solid Silver 60s Show

Image of Peter Noone

Celebrating the original package shows of the 1960s, The Solid Silver 60s Show has become something of a fixture on touring schedules over the past thirty years. It gives audiences one more chance to relive musical memories in the company of some of the big names from that special era. 

It’s back again for 2019 with another line-up of 60s hitmakers: Brian Poole of The Tremeloes, Dave Berry, Vanity Fare, and, top of the bill, Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits, makers of hits like I’m Into Something Good and No Milk Today. We spoke to the Hermits frontman, now based in America, before his arrival in Scotland…

You’ve lived in America a long time now. What’s your relationship with the old country? How do you feel when you’re back here?

I have always wanted to live in America since I joined the Superman fan club in about 1950.

My grandmother helped me fill out the form and we went to the post office on Woodland Road in Flixton and mailed it. As far as I was concerned all the great music was emanating from the USA and all my heroes for the rest of my childhood seemed to be Americans – Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, The Everly Brothers, Elvis Presley… I knew if I was going to meet them and discuss their music with them that it would have to be in America, although Buddy Holly did play in Manchester and I saw the Everly Brothers in Manchester too.

My dad was at Edinburgh University and all I remember was a Zane Grey novels collection and me and my American comics. My whole family played an instrument and we had no TV, so all baptisms, christenings, funerals and holidays were feasts of music with my Scottish grandfather, my Irish grandfather, my Irish grandmother (who could only dance) and my Welsh grandmother (who was a choir mistress) all playing songs and singing while Grandad or Auntie Mary pounded the upright in the parlour. Fats Waller was a stand out, along with George Formby and songs our daddies taught us. My faves were always the happy ones from American musicals.

How’s the touring changed? How does the Solid Silver 60s Show compare with the original package shows?

Touring changed when me and Dave Berry started to need some sleep between concerts. We went from sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll to crochet!

Dave will probably do a new quilt on this tour while me and Brian Poole go roller skating.

What of the others you are sharing the bill with? Do you have a shared history together?

I first saw Brian Poole in August 1963 when he opened for The Beatles in Abbotsford Park in Urmston and he shone even in that atmosphere. At the time The Beatles were able to hang around after the show and I saw they were all impressed with Brian and his group. Brian had been visited by Buddy Holly’s co-writer and given the song Someone Someone which impressed me. The Beatles were impressed too, as this was before music turned into a competition and each group could just be themselves.

Have you any particular memories or recollections of touring in Scotland?

Well, I spent some time in Edinburgh with my dad and would take the train with him which was very glamorous. Once I hitch-hiked up there and feel some sort of connection with Scotland. My name is Blair Noone after my two granddads – one from somewhere in Glasgow and one from Galway.

My Scottish grandfather sang Maxwelton Braes Are Bonnie when he came home from football matches and cried, which obviously means something. Maybe when Man U lost? Or Denis Law went back to Aberdeen?

It’s hard for sometimes for fans to tell who is “original” and who is “fake” with issues over names, not to mention tribute acts. What’s it like from the performer’s side of the fence? You have to bill yourself differently in the US from the UK, for instance…

Well, this is a situation that solicitors have caused – allowing people to hijack the names of famous bands. I have fellow band leaders who also have the group’s original drummer owning the rights to a name.

Sadly, we begin as equals but someone in the group becomes the spokesman and the leader. Sometimes he is the youngest member of the group and has to accept all the hatred that comes with being the boss. Being young, he has no idea how to let people in the operation know that it is not his own choice that the fans shout out his name and the press want to interview him. The TV camera is almost always on the lead singer and he gets all the attention.

What are you up to these days when you’re not touring?

I am always touring! I do 150 concerts a year. I love my songs. The road keeps me healthy. It is my workout and my pleasure.

Are you still making new music or are you happy playing the oldies?

I record songs with other groups. I got a new one with The Weeklings which is a remake of the Easybeats’ Friday On My Mind. I only record songs I like as I always did!

How do you feel now when you look back at a photo of a teenage you? What do you think he’d have made of the career that lay ahead?

I was a one trick pony as a teen – one dream. Still living the dream, and getting to play my songs and seeing the crowds sing along and smile make it all work for me. Yes, living the dream of a 13 year old has kept me going for a long time. Got a musical headed for Broadway which is still a part of the unfulfilled dream. It helps to actually dream a lot!

The Solid Silver 60s Show featuring Peter Noone, Brian Poole, Dave Berry with Vanity Fare tours Scotland in March 2019:

Edinburgh Playhouse, Wed 27 Mar
Dundee Caird Hall, Thu 28 Mar
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Fri 29 Mar
Aberdeen Music Hall, Sat 30 Mar