One-time leggy, toothy young star with no particular place to go; now polished, happy and contented - the married Herman talks to Rave's Dawn James.
Early in November '68 Peter Noone was married to a French girl called Mireille. So ended another pop dream for any fans who might have thought that they could meet their idol, fall in love, and marry him. Peter Noone, better known as Herman, is a star who believes in marriage.
"I wasn't running around looking for a wife, but when I met Mireille I knew she was what I wanted in a woman. I love her, so of course I wanted to marry her. If you really love someone you don't want to live with the girl without being married to her. I know the piece of paper doesn't mean all will be well for ever more, and I don't believe marriage is to do with religion. It isn't holy, it is just that you love each other better when you are married. No one can stand in your way, you are officially each other's. You can book into hotels and be proud to be living together. If you love someone you don't want that wonderful feeling smeared by dirty looks and rude remarks. You want to love and let everyone know it. My wife is beautiful. I'm secure now that I've got her."
A few years ago Herman was a lonely boy. He didn't always smile as readily as he did on television. He didn't know who to trust. He felt trapped by pop and the people who surrounded him.
"I am just a money-making property," he said to me once. "Sometimes I'd like to give it up and disappear."
Swift success in America made it impossible for him to disappear. Popularity engulfed him.
"I earnt piles of money, but I didn't feel any better. People who were not my real friends crowded in on me. Money didn't help. I could spend about anything I liked but it only bought me suits, and cars, and things that would wear out. Money is only good for what it can buy, and it can't buy love and friendship. It chases them away. I don't put great value on money at all. Of course I'm glad I have got enough, but it isn't how much a thing costs that counts."
Since his marriage Herman has started doing cabaret work.
"I like to play at least a week in one place. I couldn't ever go back to doing one night stands seven nights a week. They were fun at first, but now I need to be in one place a lot longer.
"I think the Hermits and I have improved with the years, and that we are making better records. Today acts like ours have a problem because anyone who is anyone has gone on to better things. At first all you are concerned with is a hit. Then another couple. Then you get established and the gradual up-lift has to start. You can't afford to stand still, but neither can you do anything sensational. You have to jog along so you fit into the pattern of things but so that people say of you 'They are ever so good now', having compared you with the other 'ever so good' acts."
Herman wants to do American cabaret.
"Well apart from the scope it offers, you spend anything up to six weeks in one place, often a very sunny place. What a way to earn a living!" he said.
How has he changed since he met Mireille?
"I trust people more now. I take a long time to decide about people's actions, and then I don't condemn them for them. I think a certain amount of tolerance comes with age anyway. I haven't got a lot more friends now, a few of Mireille's of course, but I don't need friends because I've got a wife and there is no more lonliness ever."
Herman is aware of politics and the feelings among young people who march and demonstrate about things they feel deeply over. But he feels helpless to do anything about world affairs.
"Whatever I say or do would not make any difference," he said. "I could never go into politics because I couldn't compromise. Politicians have to compromise all the time. I can't say half truths, or pretend I believe in something just to gain popularity. That is where my public image is pretty well fair. I wouldn't do anything to deliberately gain popularity, but I wouldn't like people to believe untruths of me. That would upset me. I don't rape old ladies, or kick children, and I'd hate people to think that I did."
What influence on pop does he feel the recent influx of drugs, illegitimate children and divorce in pop had?
"It has probably done a lot to create interest. It all sounds like something out of a Hollywood film hand-out on the stars of the thirties. The few people who take drugs are plain daft. The rest of the people in pop are very normal. Many ordinary people get divorced, and live together and have babies they didn't plan, only they don't talk about it. They pretend they are respectable and they mingle with their neighbours. I've not met many in pop who I think are anything special or glamorous." Although Herman has been labelled a dollar millionaire, and his money has been carefuly invested, he claims that he still needs to work.
"I intend living about another fifty years yet, and I couldn't live on what I've got already. I bought a seaside hotel for my Mum and Dad, but I don't yet own a house of my own. Mireille wants me to buy an apartment in London. I shall spend any amount on it as long I get what she wants. If I can get it for £10 I'll be happy. If I have to pay £10,000 the same goes. You can't put a price on the place you decide to make your home. You've got to feel it is right for you. Till we see the place we can't decide on the sort of furnishings or anything. But I'll let Mireille see to them, we usually like the same things, and they are a wife's department. Of course we want to have children. That is her department too!" He laughed. It sounded good. He sounded happy. An awful lot of water has flowed under the bridge since Herman was a leggy toothy young star, not sure where he was going, who with or why. Today he is a sensible young man, still leggy, a bit toothy, and with palest blue eyes. But suddenly everything is fitting into place because of a golden haired French girl called Mireille Noone.
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