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Peter Noone, Peter Banks & Ginger Baker
In a multi-dimensional career that garnered respect from his colleagues and millions of fans worldwide, Peter Noone was the professional's professional. As a child, he appeared on the British television shows Coronation Street, Knight Errant, and Family Solicitor, and went on to study acting at the Manchester School of Music and Drama. In 1963, he joined a Manchester beat group, the Heartbeats, whose name was changed shortly thereafter to Herman & the Hermits and eventually shortened to Herman's Hermits. His career with that popular recording act sold well over 50 million records, at times eclipsing the Beatles themselves in sales.
But it was Noone's voice and personality that distinguished him from the band he fronted; indeed, some of the recordings were Noone's performance on sessions produced by Mickie Most with other musicians providing the accompaniment. He charted in Britain as a solo act, recording a David Bowie tune with Bowie appearing with him on the U.K. show Top of the Pops. In the years that followed, there were former members of Herman's Hermits touring as well as Noone, causing some confusion, but in 2001 Noone, "the artist formerly known as Herman," obtained the rights to the name. The hassles with labels illegally putting out product was the kind of thing that befuddled fans and created frustration for the singer, a good example being the Slam release that featured both the band Herman's Hermits on the CD without Noone, along with the unauthorized use of live Noone material tagged on the end to create the illusion that it was Herman's Hermits and Peter Noone. With the name going back to its rightful owner, the man who sang on all the Herman's Hermits hits could put the voice together with the trademark for the general public not aware of the deceptive practices that sometimes characterize the oldies tour circuit.
As stated, his career has been multi-dimensional, from stage performances in two Broadway shows during the 1980s, including The Pirates of Penzance, to roles on the silver screen. He appeared as Herman in two films, 1966's Hold On and 1968's Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter; was one of the few bright spots in 1978's Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band; and performed in 1982's Rockin' the Night Away: Life from Palm Springs, 1996's Hullabaloo, Vol. 8, and 2000's The British Invasion Returns. In 1999, he sang the end theme to the Kirk Douglas film Diamonds.
Also in the 1980s, Noone fronted a new wave group called the Tremblers before rejoining Herman's Hermits for a time. The Tremblers ensemble, released on Beach Boy Bruce Johnstone's CBS-distributed label, was a blending of Herman's Hermits pop with the new wave edge of Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson. Noone was especially proud of the Boston stop on the tour on September 21, 1980, because the fans in that region were more hip to his new direction and showed their appreciation by not calling for Herman's Hermits hits. The show was lively and precise, and had the Tremblers released a half dozen albums or so, they no doubt would have made more of a mark. A Noone solo album from the day, One of the Glory Boys, featured covers of material by Sutherland Brothers & Quiver as well as the Spiral Starecase, and was the Tremblers in reverse, bringing new wave sounds back to a more fully developed pop attitude. He co-produced the album Graham Gouldman Thing in 1968 for the legendary songwriter who would become part of 10cc, and was asked by his friend Baywatch star David Hasselhoff to produce an album for him, but he couldn't because of time constraints. Noone has produced new recordings on his own No.One Records imprint, a double entendre of "Noone" and number one.
The man who hosted VH1's My Generation series (which lasted four years), and who can be serious when he chooses to be, has boundless energy and endless ideas. One of the keys to Noone's success is his love for his fans and their staunch loyalty to him. Noone and his current version of Herman's Hermits will take the time to sign every autograph sought by those who attend his shows, and he displays genuine enthusiasm for his repertoire. "There's a Kind of Hush," one of pop's undisputed classics, is part of that elite class of timeless songs performed with perpetual enthusiasm. Audience members always join in with Herman on the indelible chorus and become part of the show, bringing new life to a simple standard that doesn't have the usual twists of other pop tunes. Balancing himself precariously on a cement fixture singing at a Rhode Island open air concert in 2001, to the chagrin of the security of that venue, Noone's ability to charm is a reason his fans come back year after year.
His ongoing authorized biography is as remarkable as his guest appearances on the celebrated soap opera As the World Turns in March of 2002. Noone is one of the few artists from the '60s in control of his artistry and preserving it for future generations, a total entertainer with business savvy, an elusive combination in the world of rock & roll. The man whose face graced the cover of Time magazine in April of 1965 and who has appeared on such diverse television programs as Quantum Leap, My Two Dads, Married with Children, The Ted Knight Show, and Laverne & Shirley, among others, continues to bring his ideas to multiple formats and new media. Don't underestimate someone who can headline a Teen Idols Tour, perform on Broadway, and stay in such close contact with his enormous following. Peter Noone has created a model that other stars who first emerged in the '60s would be wise to study and follow. ~ Joe Viglione
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