The sound is incredible.
It hits the eardrums and then grows in intensity.
There seems to be a fluttering. Your head feels like it's vibrating. A sense of unreality comes over you.
A rocket blasting off for the Moon? A jet plane takeoff? The explosion of a nuclear device?
None of these.
The sound was screams from the throats of girls and the cause of it were five long-haired young men from Manchester, England, the latest rage in the teen-age music world, Herman's Hermits.
This was at the Roy C. Ketcham High School gymnasium in the town of Wappinger last night when Herman's Hermits gave two shows for the benefit of the Hudson Valley Youth Symphony Orchestra.
A startling contrast, youth symphony and rock and roll!
Dr. William Abruzzi, Wappingers Falls physician and a leading light in the Hudson Valley Symphony Orchestra, booked Herman's Hermits as a means of raising funds.
He had a good thing going for him - both shows were sellouts: 3,000 tickets at $3 each.
Of course, Herman's Hermits went away with the major share of the $9,000 receipts. Isn't it nice to be only 17 and yet well on your way to being a millionarie? But Dr. Abruzzi said the Youth Sympony will realize sufficient funds "to put us on our feet for at least a couple of years."
The first show, scheduled at 6 o'clock but under way at about 6:45, was attended mainly by the younger set, the vast majority of them girls - young girls, pre-teens and early teens.
Strong throatsAnd, let me tell you, girls with strong throats.
Herman's Hermits walked from the locker room and climbed onto a platform and the piercing sceams exploded.
It's a phenomenon of the 1960s - that's the best way to explain it.
I asked one girl why she screamed.
She looked puzzled.
"Aren't you supposed to?" she asked.
Herman's Hermits include Peter Noone, 17, the lead singer (he's Herman!), Karl Green, 17, Derek Leckenby, 20, Barry Whitwam, 18, and Keith Hopwood, 18.
They come from Manchester, England, and have been performing for about 14 months.
"Herman" was a singer with a group known as the "Heartbeats" before the "Hermits" were organized.
One thing about him: unlike many rock and rollers, he has a good voice. The group backs him with a good beat. Their music is lively, not raucous, and some of it is extremely listenable, ("Mrs. Brown, You Have a Lovely Daughter" for one, "Silhouettes" for another).
The group was due from New York City at 5 pm but didn't arrive until nearly an hour later at Dr. Abruzzi's office, riding in two air conditioned limousines.
At first glance, the boys were not impressive. All looked to be sorely in need of some sleep.
Slumps, Closes Eyes"Herman" slumped onto a couch and promptly closed his eyes.
Dr. Abruzzi had arranged for a press conference prior to the first show and the Hermits dutifully answered questions which undoubtedly have been put to them hundreds of times.
What do you think of the Beatles?
"Very good," said Derek.
"They're o-kye," said "Herman" who apparently likes his English accent.
How many shows have you done in the U.S.?
"I've lost count," said Barry.
"I'd say 70 or 80," volunteered one of the group's managers.
Dr. Abruzzi offered some iced tea to the boys.
Iced tea for the English? Anyway, they declined with thanks, although "Herman" said he'd like some hot tea. But time was pressing and this was foregone.
Herman's Hermits head back to England on Monday (far richer than when the boys landed eight weeks ago), but they'll be back July 13.
And, undoubtedly, thousands of girls - the Beatles call them "screamies" - will be waiting.
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