It was 1964 when Manchester’s Herman’s Hermits reached the top of the charts with their debut single I’m Into Something Good. Success followed with further hits in the UK, America and across Europe.
54 years on, the band, still retaining their original drummer, Barry Whitwam continue to tour, along with 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, Andy Howells catches up with Barry to discuss his career with Herman’s Hermits.
You’ve been touring with Herman’s Hermits for over five decades now and like drummers with other bands (John Steele of The Animals, Dave Munden of The Tremeloes) you’ve stayed the course despite the line-up changes. Why do you think that is?
Apart from the surgery (that) I’ve had to keep my limbs going, for me, I love the adrenaline. Just before you go on stage, between numbers, participating with the audience, getting them into it and at the end of it, most times you get a standing ovation! Its brilliant! You can’t buy that kind of drug anywhere!
You’re still enjoying Herman’s Hermits then?
I still love it and I’m still practicing, I’m working out a double bass drum for the drum solo. Never too old to learn a new trick!
Is it right you originally trained to be a hairdresser?
I left school when I was just 16, went straight to a hairdressing academy and had a crash course. I think for 6 months it cost 100 Guineas. The reason I did that was because I didn’t want to be a mechanic or a draughtsman. I wanted to be in a job where there wasn’t much competition and there was only a couple of guys in hairdressing back then in the mid-60s.
How did you get into music?
I was in a band when I was 13 and it was Danny and the Demons, then the Hellions, it was all the same band, we just changed the name! When I was working as a hairdresser I was in a group called The Whalers.
Thursday and Friday’s were late in the salon and I had to dash across town on my scooter to get to a gig and it was killing me. So, I asked my Dad,”Can I pack in hairdressing?” and he said he’d think about it. A week later, he came back and said “You can pack your job in as long as you start practising when I leave the house at half past 8. You can have an hour off for lunch and when I get back at 6 o clock, you stop! I thought it was a brilliant idea. The neighbours didn’t think it such a good idea! (Laughs)
So, how did you join Herman’s Hermits?
The manager, Harvey Lisberg came to myself and guitarist Derek Leckenby and said “Peter Noone is looking for two more Hermits because they’d all fallen out!” and we said, “Oh really?” We’d already seen them and didn’t fancy it!
Lisberg said “Just look at the diary first, before you make your minds up!” He opened the diary up with 6 months solid work. I’d only just turned professional and said to “Leck” “This is for me, I’m putting my name down for this!”