If this was a normal year, legendary singer Peter Noone, longtime frontman of ’60s British Invasion band Herman’s Hermits, would be playing three nights at the Birchmere this week. But due to COVID concerns and quarantine orders, he sadly had to cancel his appearances last-minute.
“This is the first time in my life, since I was just starting in the business, that I haven’t been able to perform regularly,” Noone said, deeply disappointed he won’t be able to play one of his favorite venues as planned.
At the young age of 15, the Manchester, England-born Noone achieved international fame taking on the persona of “Herman,” lead singer of the popular rock band Herman’s Hermits. His classic hits included: “I’m Into Something Good,” “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter,” “I’m Henry VIII, I Am,” “Silhouettes” and many more.
“When I first started, we didn’t have very big audiences, but they just got bigger and bigger and bigger, until now,” he said. “It’s great to see that people are still coming out to see us play.”
Herman’s Hermits was one of the biggest group of the ’60s, selling more than 60 million records and achieving seven gold records. Noone has continued to tour over the decades, both as a soloist and as leader of his band. So, the past nine months have been out of the ordinary.
“I like the whole process of touring,” Noone said. “It’s like an adventure. I get happy going to the airport. It’s all part of my life. I like being in places and looking in bookstores and record stores, and now none of that is happening. Staying home is new to me. I feel like they took a year away from me.”
Noone has spent a great deal of the pandemic reconnecting with fans through his website, working with his fan club and by doing Facebook Live chats, though he only tells stories. For him, performing over the internet is just not the same as a live performance.
“If people really want to hear me sing, they can either buy a record or go and see me in a concert, when we’re all able to again,” Noone said. “Live music is something precious and I don’t want videos all over YouTube; that would ruin the vibe of the industry.”
And if things go as planned, people won’t have long to wait. Herman’s Hermits already had about 100 dates on the calendar for 2021, and with the 100 or so scrapped this year which need to be made up, that means Noone expects to be on the road for about 200 dates next year—including a return to the Birchmere.
When he does perform again, Noone noted the concerts will be what fans have come to expect—playing the hits and some of his favorite tunes.
“I always play one Monkees’ song, one Gerry and Pacemakers song, one Freddie and the Dreamers song, those have all come back alive again,” he said. “People accept me doing them because those people aren’t doing them. I get a buzz from playing certain songs, even if they’re not mine. It’s like I become another character.”
In his mind, Noone feels he will still be performing live for another 10 years, and really feels he needs 11 now to make up for the one that’s lost.
“I’ve decided that when COVID is over, I’ll be fitter and stronger than ever, and I told the same to the Hermits. We’re getting ready,” the 73-year-old said. “We have so many dates next year, it will be like the olden days when we have dates almost every night.”
For those craving live music this holiday season, the Birchmere does still have a slate of socially-distanced performances coming up this week, including Gary Hoey on Dec. 10, The Legends of R&B featuring Tyra Levone, Anissa Hargrove and Karen Linette on Dec. 11, and Junior Brown on Dec. 12.
Noone hopes to see his name on the marquee sometime soon and is looking forward to a happier 2021.
“People ask me why I haven’t written a book yet, with all of my stories, but I don’t think I’ve gotten to the good part yet, my adventure is still going,” he said.