Talking Music: Barry Whitwam of Herman's Hermits Discusses Sensational 60s Experience - Part 2
Drummer, Barry Whitwam joined Manchester’s Herman’s Hermits in 1964 and 54 years on, is the last original member still performing with the band in the UK.
Barry will be appearing alongside the current line-up of Herman’s Hermits and joining Mike Pender, Mike d'Abo, The Fortunes and New Amen Corner making up the Sensational 60s Experience, which comes to Cardiff’s St David’s Hall on March 7.
In the first part of our interview, Barry discussed how he got into the music business. Today, Andy Howells chats with him about Herman’s Hermits 60s success and the current tour.
You reached No. 1 with your debut single I’m Into Something Good, did you think the success would last?
When I first started in April 64, when we formed Herman’s Hermits, I thought we’d give it a couple of years, see how we go. When we hit America, we did The Ed Sullivan show, the first time, it was black and white and all live!
Why do you think Herman’s Hermits went down so well with the Americans?
I think the (Manchester) accent had a bit of an American twang to it, like I’m HENERY the Eighth I Am, Mrs Brown you’ve got a lovely DAWTER, I don’t think the American’s had ever heard anything pronounced like that - DAWTER.
I wouldn’t say we were a novelty act, but we were different to anybody else in the 60s.
You also toured with The Who, and shared a birthday party with their drummer, Keith Moon?
That was in Flint, Michigan. The Who were on tour with us, they were our support band in America in 1967.. Keith’s birthday was about two days from mine, so we decided to have (a party) at the Holiday Inn in Michigan.
We had our birthday party, 200 cakes, which were delivered at the venue and some of the public got in and trashed the lounge. We weren’t allowed to eat the cakes. Sometimes we found nails in them (and) razor blades, from jealous boyfriends, probably. So, we didn’t eat the cakes. We were looking at them and Keith Moon flicked a piece at Karl Green our bass player, then he flicked a bit back.
A policeman who we were paying for our protection, pulls out his gun and starts walking towards Keith Moon. I think he was going to arrest him. They got Keith Moon out through a side door, he’d had a few drinks, then smashed his front teeth on the kerb outside. He was taken off to a dental clinic and that was the last we saw of him all night. Then the cake fight started, it was like those old black and white films.!
Since the 60s, the band has had a lot of line-up changes with you been the only original member – has it been difficult to maintain the sound?
When Peter left, we went into the studio and wrote an album between us called A Whale Of A Tale, it’s still good stuff, for now it holds its own,
Keith Hopwood, left because we were playing more of the old hits than the new stuff. Then Karl Green left in the 80s, as he was raising a family and it was difficult because we were on the road a lot of the time. Derek Leckenby, the lead guitarist, died in in 1994 and then that just left me!
We have a great line-up now, Geoff Foote, (who wrote our first single after Peter left called She’s A Lady), joined us in 1988. We’ve also got a very good keyboard player now in Tony Hancox and we’ve got Paul Cornwell as lead guitarist. They’re all great singers in their own right! When they do the harmonies it sounds big,
I couldn't be happier, it just gets better, because each time somebody leaves, you relearn the songs for the new guy and you think "Hang on!, we’re doing that wrong! That harmony shouldn’t be there!" So, you correct it! I think we’ve nailed it on the head this time!
So, what can we expect from this years Sensational 60s Experience show?
The Fortunes will be on before us, then we’re going to do 8 top ten hits, there will be a 20-minute break, so you can have a drink and buy a programme. New Amen Corner will open the second half and then they’ll back Mike d'Abo and then Mike Pender, it’s a great show and at the end we have a meet and greet in the foyer and people can come and say "hello!"
- To book seats for The Sensational 60s Experience please visit www.stdavidshallcardiff.co.uk or call the Box Office on 029 2087 8444.