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Herman's Hermits

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Herman's Hermits
Herman's Hermits in 1967. Left to right: Barry Whitwam, Peter Noone, Derek Leckenby, Keith Hopwood, Karl Green
Herman's Hermits in 1967. Left to right: Barry Whitwam, Peter Noone, Derek Leckenby, Keith Hopwood, Karl Green
Background information
OriginManchester, England
Years active1963–present
LabelsColumbia Records (EMI), MGM
MembersBarry Whitwam
Jamie Thurston
John Summerton
Tony Young
Past membersDerek Leckenby
Keith Hopwood
Karl Green
Peter Noone
See all former members at Band members

Herman's Hermits are an English rock and pop group formed in 1963 in Manchester and fronted by singer Peter Noone. Known for their jaunty beat sound and Noone's often tongue-in-cheek vocal style, the Hermits charted with numerous transatlantic hits in the UK and in America, where they ranked as one of the most successful acts in the Beatles-led British Invasion. Between March and August 1965 in the United States, the group logged twenty-four consecutive weeks in the Top Ten of Billboard's Hot 100 with five singles, including the two number ones "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter" and "I'm Henry VIII, I Am".

Their other international hits in the 1960s include "I'm into Something Good" (their sole UK number one), "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat", the two covers "Silhouettes" and "Wonderful World", "A Must to Avoid", "Listen People", "No Milk Today", "There's a Kind of Hush", "I Can Take or Leave Your Loving", "Something's Happening" and "My Sentimental Friend", all of which were produced by Mickie Most. Herman's Hermits also appeared in four films, two of which were vehicles for the band.


Early days[edit]

Herman's Hermits was formed from two different local bands. Keith Hopwood (Rhythm guitar, backing vocals), Karl Green (lead guitar, backing vocals), Alan Wrigley (bass), Steve Titterington (drums) and Peter Noone (lead vocals) came from the Heartbeats where Hopwood had replaced rhythm guitarist Alan Chadwick.[2] The second-youngest member of a young group (four months older than Karl Green who was originally in the Balmains),[2] 15-year-old Noone was already an experienced actor on the popular British TV soap opera Coronation Street. Derek "Lek" Leckenby (lead guitar) and Barry Whitwam (drums) (born Jan Barry Whitwam) joined later from another local group, the Wailers. Whitwam replaced Titterington on drums, Green switched to bass guitar (replacing Wrigley) and Leckenby took over for Green as lead guitarist. After Leckenby joined the band, the group made a deal with producer Mickie Most and signed with EMI's Columbia label in Europe and MGM Records in the United States.[3]

The band's name came from a resemblance, noted by a publican in Manchester, England, between Noone and Sherman from the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. Sherman was shortened to Herman and then became Herman and His Hermits, which was soon shortened to Herman's Hermits.[4]

1960s fame[edit]

Harvey Lisberg discovered them and signed on as their manager. He sent a plane ticket to London record producer Mickie Most so that he could fly to see the band play in Bolton. Most, already a success with the Animals, became the group's producer and controlled the band's output. He emphasised a simple and non-threatening clean-cut image.

Their chart debut was a cover of Gerry Goffin and Carole King's "I'm into Something Good" (a then-recent US Top 40 hit for Earl-Jean). In September 1964 it replaced the Kinks' "You Really Got Me" at number one in the UK singles chart and in December reached no. 13 in the US. The Hermits never topped the British charts again, but in America in 1965—when Billboard magazine ranked them America's top singles act of the year (with the Beatles at no. 2)—they topped the Hot 100 with two non-UK releases: "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter" and "I’m Henry VIII, I Am” (a remake of the 1910 Cockney-style music hall song "I'm Henery the Eighth, I Am"). The no. 12 debut of "Mrs. Brown" on the Hot 100 in April 1965 was the decade's third highest (behind the Beatles' "Hey Jude" and "Get Back").

Cashbox advertisement, September 26, 1964

The band played on most of its singles, including "I'm into Something Good", "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat", "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter", "I'm Henry VIII, I Am" (said at the time to be "the fastest-selling song in history"),[5] "A Must to Avoid", "Listen People", "You Won't Be Leaving" and "Leaning on a Lamp Post". Leckenby soloed on "Henry" and Hopwood played rhythm guitar on "Mrs. Brown".[6] Despite the group's competent musicianship, some subsequent singles employed session musicians – including Big Jim Sullivan, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Vic Flick and Bobby Graham – with contributions from the band, although the role of session players on Herman's Hermits records has been exaggerated in the rock media[citation needed] and in liner notes on the 2004 ABKCO Records compilation Retrospective (which does not credit the Hermits' playing). Mickie Most used session musicians on many records he produced; this was industry practice at the time.[7]

Between late 1964 and early 1968 Herman's Hermits never failed to reach the Top 40 in the States. Six of their 11 US Top Tens were not released as A-side singles in their native UK, including the two aforementioned number ones plus "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat" (no. 2), "Listen People" (no. 3), a cover of Noel Gay's 1937 song "Leaning on a Lamp-post" (no. 9, under the title "Leaning on the Lamp Post") and their version of Ray Davies's "Dandy" (no. 5). Conversely they hit big in Britain between 1968 and 1970 with several major hits which failed to register in America, among them the four Top Tens "Sunshine Girl" (no. 8), "Something's Happening" (no. 6), "My Sentimental Friend" (no. 2) and "Years May Come, Years May Go" (no. 7). Their final UK hit, "Lady Barbara" (no. 13), released in the autumn of 1970, was credited to 'Peter Noone & Herman's Hermits'.

A photo of Hermans Hermits in 1965.
Herman's Hermits circa 1965

In America the group appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Dean Martin Show and The Jackie Gleason Show. The group's US records were released by MGM Records, which often showcased its musical performers in MGM films. The band appeared in several movies. [8] On screen the Hermits featured opposite Connie Francis in When the Boys Meet the Girls (1965) and starred outright in Hold On! (1966) — featuring one song performed by co-star Shelley Fabares and nine by the Hermits, including the title track — and Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter (1968). They also appeared in the 1965 British music revue film Pop Gear. P. F. Sloan wrote the title track of the Hermits' soundtrack to the 1966 film Hold On!. Sloan and regular collaborator Steve Barri—whose songs include "Let Me Be", "You Baby" and "Secret Agent Man"—also co-wrote "Where Were You When I Needed You", "All the Things I Do for You Baby" and the Top Ten hit "A Must to Avoid", all recorded by Herman's Hermits.[citation needed]

Ray Davies of the Kinks wrote "Dandy"  – a 1966 US no. 5 hit for the Hermits – and Graham Gouldman wrote three of their 1966 hits: "Listen People", "No Milk Today" and "East West", the latter of which was covered in 1989 by singer and Hermits fan Morrissey.[citation needed]

In November 1966 in the UK, after two consecutive Top 20 hits, the Hermits returned to the Top Ten with "No Milk Today", backed with "My Reservation's Been Confirmed".[9] For the US release of "No Milk Today" in 1967, MGM backed it with "There's a Kind of Hush". The latter climbed to no. 4 in March 1967. "No Milk Today" peaked at no. 35, though it was linked to "Hush" on local charts across the country. "No Milk Today" also scored in its own right including success on San Francisco Top 40 station KFRC, where in April 1967 it reached no. 1, ranking 6 for the year.[10]

In 1966 the group was nominated for three Grammy awards including Best New Artist of 1965—they lost to singer Tom Jones—and two for their chart-topper "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter": Best Performance by a Vocal Group and Best Contemporary (R&R) Performance – Group (Vocal or Instrumental). According to Noone and Hopwood, "Mrs. Brown" was recorded as an afterthought in two takes – using two microphones, with Hopwood on guitar, Green on bass guitar and Whitwam on drums. Noone and the band deliberately emphasised their English accents on the record, never intended to be a single. Hopwood recalls playing a Gretsch Country Gentleman guitar in the studio, with its strings muted to create the distinctive sound. When playing the song live, Hopwood often used a Rickenbacker guitar with a rag tied around the bridge to duplicate the sound, which can be seen clearly in old performance clips.

The 1967 album Blaze received critical acclaim,[citation needed] but barely made the Top 100 in the US and did not chart in the UK. The album included original songs by Leckenby, Whitwam, Hopwood, Green and Noone, including "Ace King Queen Jack" and the psychedelic "Moonshine Man".

In 1968, Hopwood and Leckenby eventually started a music company, Pluto Music, which is still in business as of 2023 working primarily on commercial and animation soundtracks.

A 1969 two-disc album Herman's Hermits Rock 'n' Roll Party was never released.


Peter Noone left in 1971 to pursue a solo career in the United States. A cover of the song "(I Think I'm Over) Getting Over You" went to number 63 on the Adult Contemporary Chart in 1973.

When Noone left the group in 1971, the Hermits continued, first with singer Pete Cowap. They signed with RCA Records in the UK and, as "The Hermits", recorded two singles at Strawberry Studios and an unreleased album (under the name Sourmash) produced by Eric Stewart. The group subsequently cut one-off singles for Private Stock, Buddah, and Roulette in respectively 1975, 1976, and 1977, without significant success. Noone did return to front Herman's Hermits during a 1973–1974 U.S. multi-artist tour of "British Invasion" acts, after which Whitwam, Leckenby, and Green (who assumed lead vocal duties until his 1980 retirement) continued to tour with newer members, including Rod Gerrard (formerly with Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders and Salford Jets).[citation needed] Hopwood left in 1972.

Karl Green left the band in 1980 to spend more time with his family, later opening a plumbing and tiling business in London.

In 1986, the Hermits opened for the Hep Stars and the Monkees on their 1980s reunion tours of the US.

Hopwood has since become a composer of scores for film and television. Green has become a manager of sound systems for concert venues along London's South Bank.[11]

Herman’s Hermits during their 50 year anniversary tour in April 2014. From left to right: Paul Cornwell, Barry Whitwam, Geoff Foot, Kevin Lingard

Leckenby died of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 1994, leaving Whitwam as the only original member of the band. Noone continues to play solo shows billed as "Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone".

On 8 June 1997, Hopwood, Green, and Whitwam reunited with Noone to play a one-off reunion concert.[12]

Karl Green has noted that he preferred harder rock, but was grateful for the hand he was dealt.[13] Many of the band's singles and album tracks were written by some of the top songwriters of the day, but Noone, Leckenby, Hopwood and Green contributed lesser-known songs such as "My Reservation's Been Confirmed", "Take Love, Give Love", "Marcel's", "For Love", "Tell Me Baby", "Busy Line", Moonshine Man", "I Know Why" and "Gaslight Street". "I Know Why" enjoyed a limited A-side release.[14]

Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone in 2006

The Sourmash album from 1972 was finally released in 2000 under the title A Whale of a Tale! And Others.[15]

Scottish-born keyboardist Robert Birrell joined in May 2002. He was diagnosed with cancer a few years into being a Hermit, and Kevan Lingard was added in on keys in 2005 to fill in for dates Birrell couldn't attend. Robert eventually left in September 2006 and later died on 18 October 2008.[16]

Paul Cornwell (guitarist from 2013 to 2019) was added into Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich in January 2015 on bass as "Dozy II" following the death of original Dozy Trevor Ward-Davies.

In 2019, Noone won the "Entertainer of the Year" award at the Casino Entertainment Awards.[17] In 2023, Herman's Hermits Starring Peter Noone were scheduled to perform in over 100 concerts in countries such as the USA, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and France.[18][needs update]

Geoff Foot who, with the exception of Whitwam, was the longest serving member, left the Hermits after playing his last gig with them at a Butlin's on Saturday 14 January 2023. Foot was replaced by John Summerton.[19] The group has played some concerts since that time, however, including one on 23 July 2023 in New Jersey.[20]

Also in 2023, Tony Hancox left the band after six years. He was replaced by Tony Young of Gerry's Pacemakers. Hancox's last performance with the Hermit's was at the Leeds Grand Theatre on 29 October 2023, when they were touring in the "Sixties Gold" nostalgia tour.[21] In turn, Hancox filled Young's place in Gerry's Pacemakers.[22] As of April 2024, current lineup of Herman's Hermits is: Barry Whitwam (drummer since 1964), Jamie Thurston (formerly of The Tornados starring Dave Watts; bassist and lead vocalist since 2020), John Summerton (formerly of Flintlock; guitarist since January 2023), and Tony Young (formerly of Gerry and the Pacemakers; keyboardist since October 2023).

Controversies and legal disputes[edit]

Disputes over recording contributions[edit]

Continuing acrimony among former members of Herman's Hermits has increased the amount of disinformation about the group's role on their records; the late Derek Leckenby, in particular, was a skilled guitarist.[citation needed] Mickie Most commented on the VH1 My Generation: Herman's Hermits episode that the Hermits "played on a lot of their records, and some they didn't." The group played on all their UK and US no. 1 hits ("I'm into Something Good", "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter" and "I'm Henry VIII, I Am"), on most of their US Top Ten singles, on a number of other singles and on most album cuts. According to Peter Noone, Leckenby played the muted lead on "This Door Swings Both Ways".[23]

The riff in "Silhouettes" variously has been credited to Jimmy Page, Big Jim Sullivan and Vic Flick; however, according to Keith Hopwood and Karl Green, Leckenby replaced Flick in the studio and played the signature riff under Most's direction.[23] According to Hopwood, Green and Noone, Jimmy Page played on the single "Wonderful World" (although Big Jim Sullivan lists the song as part of a session he played); both may have added to the backing track. Several writers have claimed that session players played on "I'm into Something Good"; according to the surviving band members, the song was recorded on a two-track recorder, with only a piano player in addition to the Hermits.[23]

Legal disputes over "Herman's Hermits" name[edit]

Legal disputes between Whitwam and Noone have occurred since the 2000s. In 2003, members were forced to rename the band "Herman's Hermits starring Barry Whitwam" when they tour in North America, but remain billed as "Herman's Hermits" worldwide.[24]

One such case in 2009 had the band sued by Peter Noone when advertisements for their tour in the US had "Herman's Hermits" in large text, with "starring/featuring Barry Whitwam" in small text underneath, which would have not been noticed by people looking at the advertisement, possibly misleading them into thinking that they were seeing an ad for Noone. A lawsuit unraveled and Whitwam ultimately decided to stop touring in the United States with his band:

In 2009, our last tour of America we did, we agreed in 2003 that if I would tour America that I was Herman's Hermits Starring Barry Whitwam and when Peter went out it would be Herman's Hermits Starring Peter Noone. In 2009, the promoters, the buyers, didn't read the rider properly, got it wrong and said Herman's Hermits. Then in small letters, Featuring or With Barry Whitwam. The promoters got it wrong. Peter got wired up and we went to battle, litigation and all that stuff. It could've been settled with a phone call because my agents and promoters were in the wrong because they didn't read the rider properly. Anyway, we agreed to go out as Herman's Hermits Starring Barry Whitwam and he agreed to go out as Herman's Hermits Starting Peter Noone. In 2009, it went pear-shaped and I decided it's not worth the hassle going out in America because every time you got booked, you got booked wrong, not the way it should have been. So 2009 was the last tour of America for me.

— Barry Whitwam[25]


Studio albums


Band members[edit]

Original members are listed in bold.

Current members
  • Barry Whitwam (born 21 July 1946 in Prestbury) – drums (1964–present)
  • Jamie Thurston – bass, lead and backing vocals (2020-present)
  • John Summerton (born 10 January 1961 in Essex[26]) – guitar, lead and backing vocals (2023-present)
  • Tony Young – keyboards, lead and backing vocals (2023-present)
Former members
  • Peter Noone (born 5 November 1947 in Davyhulme) – lead vocals (1964–1971, 1973)
  • Keith Hopwood (born 26 October 1946 in Davyhulme) – rhythm guitar, vocals (1964–1972)
  • Karl Green (born 31 July 1947 in Davyhulme) – bass, vocals (1964–1980)
  • Derek Leckenby (born 14 May 1943 in Leeds, died 4 June 1994 in Manchester) – lead guitar (1964–1994)
  • Pete Cowap (born 1944 in Middleton, died 1997) – lead vocals, rhythm guitar (1971–1972; died 1997)
  • John Gaughan (born 1953) – rhythm guitar, vocals (1972–1975)
  • Chris Finley (born 1948 in Liverpool, died February 2016[27]) – keyboards, vocals (1973–1974)
  • Lance Dixon – keyboards, vocals (1974)
  • Frank Renshaw (born 22 June 1943 in Wythenshawe[28]) – rhythm guitar, vocals (1975–1982)
  • Paul Farnell – bass, vocals[29] (1980–1988)
  • Garth Elliott – rhythm guitar, vocals (1982–1986)
  • Rod Gerrard (born in Manchester) – rhythm guitar, vocals (1986–1995)
  • Geoff Foot (born 26 November 1946 in Manchester) – vocals (1988–2023), bass (1988–2020), lead guitar (2020–2023)
  • Alec Johnson (born 3 April 1953 in Northwich) – lead guitar (1994–2002[30])
  • Geoff Kerry (born 28 August 1949 in Salford[31]) – rhythm guitar, vocals (1995–2001)
  • Graham Lee (born 1943 in Manchester[32]) – rhythm guitar, vocals (2001–2004), lead guitar (2002–2004)
  • Robert Birrell (born 25 November 1948, died 18 October 2008[16][33]) – keyboards, vocals (2002–2006) (not touring 2005–2006)
  • Eddy Carter (born 17 April 1957 in Manchester[34]) – lead guitar, vocals (2004–2013[35])
  • Kevan Lingard (born 28 October 1958 in Accrington[36]) – keyboards, vocals (2005–2016[37])
  • Simon Van Downham – rhythm guitar, vocals (2010–2011[38])
  • Paul Cornwell (born 31 October 1963 in Lincolnshire) – lead guitar, vocals (2013–2019)
  • Justin LaBarge – rhythm guitar, vocals (2015–2019)
  • Paul Robinson (born 1 December 1964[39]) – keyboards, vocals (2016)
  • Duncan Keith – guitar, vocals (2019)
  • Ray Frost (born in Essex[40]) – guitar, vocals (2019–2020)
  • Tony Hancox (born 25 March 1972[41][42]) – keyboards, vocals (2017-2023)



  1. ^ Allmusic.com biography. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
  2. ^ a b Wells, Emily. "Interview with Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits". Loving 60s. Loving 60s. Archived from the original on 23 October 2021. Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  3. ^ Allmusic.com biography. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
  4. ^ "Herman's Hermits – Magazine Articles". Hermanshermits.com. Archived from the original on 14 May 2006. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  5. ^ MacInnes, Colin (1965) "The Old English Music Hall Songs Are New." The New York Times, 28 November 1965, p. SM62: "Henry—which hit the top of the record lists and, according to one American expert, was 'the fastest-selling song in history'—was in fact an old English music hall song enjoying a new lease on life."
  6. ^ Noone interview, Hopwood personal correspondence
  7. ^ Davis, Stephen, Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga
  8. ^ "Peter Noone interview". NJ.com True Jersey. 29 May 2011. Retrieved 1 October 2023.
  9. ^ Classicbands.com Retrieved 7 March 2011.
  10. ^ Joel Whitburn (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955–2002. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research, Inc. p. 312. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
  11. ^ "Big L RSL 2001 in Clacton – Photogallery of the Stars". Radiolondon.co.uk. 6 January 1965. Archived from the original on 23 October 2021. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  12. ^ Herman's Hermits 1997 reunion concert -- Peter Noone, Karl Green, Barry Whitwam, Keith Hopwood, retrieved 22 March 2024
  13. ^ VH1 My Generation: Herman's Hermits
  14. ^ EMI and MGM catalogs
  15. ^ "Sourmash – A Whale of a Tale! And Others". discogs.com. Archived from the original on 23 October 2021. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  16. ^ a b "Hermits pay tribute to Rob". www.oldham-chronicle.co.uk. Retrieved 20 March 2024.
  17. ^ "Herman's Hermits singer Peter Noone named Entertainer of the Year at 2019 Casino Entertainment Awards". KTLO. 17 October 2019. Retrieved 1 October 2023.
  18. ^ "Interview: Peter Noone Talks Touring with Herman's Hermits". Broadway World. 25 January 2023. Retrieved 1 October 2023.
  19. ^ "Band Members – Herman's Hermits". Retrieved 12 September 2023.
  20. ^ "man's Hermits Starring Peter Noone and The Grass Roots". Mayo Arts. 27 July 2023. Retrieved 1 October 2023.
  21. ^ "Herman's Hermits – 60s Rock & Pop Group". Retrieved 13 March 2024.
  22. ^ "The Band – Gerry's Pacemakers". Retrieved 13 March 2024.
  23. ^ a b c Noone interview: Herman's Hermits Listen People DVD Reeling in the Years (2009)
  24. ^ "Hermits stateside for Riverfest, other shows". MyWebTimes.com. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
  25. ^ https://www.classicbands.com/BarryWhitwamInterview.html
  26. ^ "John SUMMERTON personal appointments - Find and update company information - GOV.UK". find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk. Retrieved 28 April 2024.
  27. ^ McCoid, Sophie (22 February 2016). "Merseybeats bassist Chris Finley has died aged 67". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 6 April 2024.
  28. ^ "Toggery Five". www.manchesterbeat.com. Retrieved 6 April 2024.
  29. ^ "Rossendale 60s Festival 2024". Rossendale 60s Festival 2024. Retrieved 28 March 2024.
  30. ^ "Herman's Hermits - Official web page". web.archive.org. 29 May 2000. Retrieved 21 March 2024.
  31. ^ "Herman's Hermits - Official web page". web.archive.org. 13 June 2000. Retrieved 6 April 2024.
  32. ^ "Graham Lee Guitar/Vocals". web.archive.org. 3 August 2001. Retrieved 6 April 2024.
  33. ^ "Robert Birrell Keyboards - Vocals". web.archive.org. 10 October 2003. Retrieved 6 April 2024.
  34. ^ "Barry Whitwam". web.archive.org. 12 December 2004. Retrieved 6 April 2024.
  35. ^ "Wayback Machine". web.archive.org. 11 December 2004. Retrieved 21 March 2024.
  36. ^ "Barry Whitwam". web.archive.org. Retrieved 6 April 2024.
  37. ^ "Kev Lingard - Keyboard Vocalist - Hermans Hermits". Shout Entertainment. Retrieved 20 March 2024.
  38. ^ "Herman's Hermits". www.manchesterbeat.com. Retrieved 22 March 2024.
  39. ^ "Paul Robinson | Hermans Hermits". web.archive.org. 22 October 2016. Retrieved 6 April 2024.
  40. ^ "Ray Frost". web.archive.org. 10 August 2020. Retrieved 6 April 2024.
  41. ^ "Band Members – Herman's Hermits". Retrieved 6 April 2024.
  42. ^ "The Band – Gerry's Pacemakers". Retrieved 6 April 2024.

External links[edit]