The story goes like this: It’s 1965, and Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits walks into a London bar with John Lennon.
Noone is 17 and too young to drink.
So Lennon tells the bartender, “it’s all right, he’s with me.” There’s a two-drink minimum and Lennon knows that Noone can’t buy liquor.
“You get two Cokes and I’ll get two Bacardis,” Lennon said. Then Lennon gave him one of his drinks.
“I was just a cheeky kid and John was a Beatle,” Noone said this week in a telephone interview. Earlier this year, Noone recorded a track called “I Can’t Imagine” as a tribute to Lennon. “He was a friend and like everyone else, I admired his music.”
Noone will perform Saturday at 5 and 8 p.m. in the Savannah Center with Rocky and the Rollers in “An Olde English Christmas.”
Noone enjoys playing The Villages.
“It’s loads of fun and I like to get in a day early, and just enjoy everything in The Villages,” he said. “I’m on the road a lot and this is one of the dates I really look forward to. Rocky and the Rollers have a great band and I’ve known those guys about 20 years.”
It was about 50 years ago that the Beatles, Rolling Stones, the Who and Herman’s Hermits dominated the British Invasion of American record charts.
“We were all very popular and we all knew each other and did a lot of things together,” Noone said. “It was a very creative time.”
Herman’s Hermits was one of the hottest music acts on the planet during the mid-60s. Noone became a cute teen idol and the group’s debut single, “I’m Into Something Good,” came out in the summer of 1964.
“It was originally done by a girl group (the Cookies) and we changed it a bit to fit our style,” Noone said of the tune, written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin.
The single raced into the Top Ten and Herman (Noone) found his face plastered on teen magazines.
“When I started out, I didn’t have to do much,” Noone said. “I used to jump around on stage and the girls kept screaming. I don’t jump like that anymore; I let Mick Jagger do it.”
The spotlight was nothing new for Noone. He was a child actor from Manchester, England and appeared in the British TV series “Coronation Street.”
In 1965, Hermanmania swept America.
The band had three No. 1 records: “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter,” “I’m Henery the Eighth I Am,” and “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat.” The group even starred in a couple of movies, “Hold On,” and “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter.”
The band’s sound and style was different than the Beatles, Stones or Who. Those groups were older and had a rougher edge. Noone was just a kid and The Hermits offered a fresh and light blend of pop, rock and English music hall music.
“Their records were smooth, pleasant pop/rock, roughly the British invasion equivalent of easy listening, which set them apart from most of the rival acts of the period,” Bruce Eder wrote on allmusic.com.
To see a video of “Mrs. Brown…” go to:
“We were different from the other groups and that’s what I think made us popular,” Noone said. Among the group’s hits: “There’s A Kind of Hush,” “Dandy,” “Listen People,” “No Milk Today” and “Just A Little Bit Better.”
Somehow, despite his tender age and vast fame, Noone was able to avoid the pitfalls of rock and roll. He not only survived but has thrived in a career that has last over six decades.
“I didn’t get into music to do stupid things or kill myself,” Noone said. “I knew I wanted to be a singer, have a band and have people hear my music. My parents raised me right. I was very independent and hard working. I had my first band when I was 13. I used to book shows and travel all over.”
Like most English acts of that era, Noone was deeply influenced by American rock and roll. Among the performers he counts as influences: Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers and Jackie Wilson.
“When I was growing up in England, we listened to all kinds of music: blues, jazz and pop,” Noone said. “But my generation really loved American rock and roll.
“America is where all show business started. America gave us rock and roll. We wanted to expand it and make it our style.”
Noone accomplished that goal and is still going strong.
“A big part of the reason is marrying the right woman and we’ve been married 47 years,” Noone said of his wife, Mireille. “She takes care of me and I try to take care of her.”