Variations on a Theme

When Herman's Hermits, The Blues Magoos and The Who performed recently, the moderate sized concert hall was filled to near capacity with typical teeny-boppers sporting Herman's Hermits sweatshirts and buttons, presents for their idols, and carrying posters. One poster caught my eye in particular. It was made in the shape of a flower and the words "We Luv You Herman" were plastered across it.
    The concert commenced with the Blues Magoos. Their act consisted of a psychedelic light show as well as their scheduled list of songs. The five boys from the Greenwich Village area were robed in outfits of a leather-type fabric in various bright colors. The songs they voiced were mainly cuts from the Magoo's albums on the Mercury label, "Psychedelic Lollipop" and "Electric Comic Book." An extreme amount of talent was displayed in their performance of "Tobacco Road" which lasted well over 5 minutes.
    Next on the agenda were The Who, four young boys from London. From their act, one remembers best the guitarist. He had a collapsable guitar which at the end of their performance, he broke into tiny bits and threw out at the audience. Drumsticks were also strewn among the crowd by their drummer, Keith Moon.
    After a short intermission during which time the stage was cleared and set, the main attraction of HERMAN'S HERMITS was presented to the people. The group of five chaps from in and around the Manchester district in England were dressed in outfits typical of the British styles. Herman sported a green-gold metallic shirt with suspenders and a wildly flowered print jacket along with off-white trousers. Their set included a cut from the Beatle album, "Sgt. Pepper," and some of the songs which made them famous, including "Mrs. Brown," and their latest smash single, "Museum."


Picture of Herman and me taken in their dressing room.

    I had made arrangements earlier in the night, with the manager of the Blues Magoos, to meet the various acts. So, as scheduled, I was given about half an hour's time with the stars between shows. The backstage conditions were pleasant, however nothing fancy. The walls were decorated with the gifts, posters and telegrams everyone had received from fans, friends and acquaintances.
    The first person I encountered was Peter Noone (leader of the Hermits) and I approached him with the usual line, "Hello Peter. I've been looking forward to meeting you." He was most cordial to me.
    At that time one of the Who came into the room with a bunch of lillies that someone had sent him. Peter Noone looked at them and remarked, "Who would ever send flowers to a group? Why flowers?" I, in turn, said, "Flower Power." Ralph, one of the Blues Magoos then said, "Maybe!" and everyone around got a laugh from the incident.
    Food and drinks were delivered to the fellows and I had, dangling in my hand, a pen with a long tip. Peter Noone, without saying a word, took it from my hand and stirred his beverage. After he offered me a sip, he remarked, "Tastes good doesn't it Loui?"
    Out on the balcony, looking over the ocean, and standing alone, was Derek Leckenby (guitarist of the Hermits). I went over and joined him. He, also, was most friendly. We were talking about concerts the Hermits had previously performed and some strange occurances they had encountered. By the way, the rumor of the Hermits breaking up is all nonsense. (That information came directly from the Hermits themselves.)
    I was speaking now with the lead singer of the Who. He was still clad in his outfit of pink trousers, a ruffled shirt and a pink paisley jacket. He wore an odd-looking tie made of large beads and a tassel.
    The whole group of musicians and managers was a happy bunch. There seemed to be no conflict among the groups. Everyone was his true self, no put-ons and the gathering was very informal. There was a lot of cutting up between them and, at the same time, a lot of serious talk.
    It was time for the guys to prepare themselves for their next performance, so all outsiders were asked to leave. I walked into the night, in a state of psychedelic bliss, happy and contented. As I was finding my way back to my hotel room, I carried a smile across my face from cheek to cheek. It seemed that all passersby smiled back to me and understood how I felt.

A crowd of about 7,000 teenagers and some parents gathered at the hall for the Herman's Hermits, Blues Magoos and The Who concert. The show was sponsored by a radio station and the disc jockeys were on stage adding spark to the night.


Picture of Keith Hopwood of the Hermits reading the article I wrote on the Hermits.

    The three groups performed the same acts that they did at the shore and were clothed in the same outfits with the exception of Herman. He was clad in a clashing costume consisisting of flowered pants, a white shirt, a psychedelic printed tie and a jacket in bright, assorted colors.

Herman's Hermits, The Blues Magoos and The Who checked into their hotel about five hours before showtime and left early the following

 
morning. The next day, we were talking to the attendants who encountered the groups there. They said that the groups were as typical as teenagers and young adults are, and, on the whole, were very pleasant individuals. There was a lot of kidding and joking among the groups.
    In the restaurant, Esther, the waitress who served Herman, said that she felt special toward him when she brought him the sirloin steak sandwich and the chef's salad bowl he ordered.
    The manager of the hotel remarked to us about how the Hermits and the other groups were so friendly to the fans who gathered in the lobby to get a glimpse of them as they were departing from the hotel. He said that although they were in a hurry to catch a plane, they stopped to give autographs and get their pictures taken.
    Yes, everybody likes the Hermits!
    I bought a ticket and entered the hall. The Blues Magoos had finished their act and the jocks were clowning around as kids in the balcony shouted, "I want Herman. Get off that stage!!!"
    The Who came on and totally destroyed everyone's mind, as well as several pair of drumsticks and a guitar someone in the audience had brought for the occasion. Roger Daltrey sang "Happy Jack," "A Quick One While He's Away," and "Boris the Spider" from their second album. He's a super-cool guy, very hip - an interesting singer and sharp dresser. That night he wore an Indian print tunic over a ruffled shirt and pink slacks. Keith Moon, drummer, is really something to watch in action. He goes at those drums (painted irridescent pink, purple, and orange) with a kind of impassioned violence. It used to be quite expensive for them in the beginning - breaking up their instruments to culminate each performance. They've solved that now tho with a guitar that, once disassembled, snaps back together again. Smoke fumed from behind the electronic amplification system billowing in multi-colored clouds above the stage.
    House lights lit for the intermission revealed the usual collections of signs:
    "Laura & Andi LUV Herman"
    "Hermits Forever"
    Pete Noone came on in a burst of flash bulbs wearing a flowered pajama-like outfit and sang "With A Little Help From My Friends." The police patroled through the audience making everyone get off their chairs as a TV camera filmed the whole scene. Karl Green wore his tan striped jacket - the one he has worn at practically each of the twelve Herman's Hermits shows I've been to. Pink and blue lights centered on the boys as the audience shrieked and they, amazingly enough audible above the din sang "Wonderful World," "Dandy," "No Milk Today," and "New York Mining Disaster." A loud sigh arose from the crowd as Pete sang "There's A Kind of Hush". Pete unsuccessfully attempted to elicit quiet from the audience for "I Understand." Always one with a head for business matters, he remarked, "Someone must be making a fortune off these flash cubes." The audience was encouraged to clap their hands over their heads, Herman fashion; to "Mrs. Brown." At one point the Hermits ceased playing altogether and listened as the audience sang it out to them. Some kids at the back of the hall had thrown their raincoats on the floor and were dancing.


Picture of Derek Leckenby, guitarist of the Hermits, and me.

    At the hotel we spoke to Ralph, Pete Noone's road manager and Normal Taylor. At that time the tour which had started one and a half months earlier had already covered 135,000 miles. Ralph took us to the room of the Hermit Pete had jokingly introduced on stage a "Long lecherous Leckenby." Ralph, Lek and Norman had many amusing tales to relate about various incidents that had occured in the course of their travels.
    After two shows at a shore resort, it seems that Keith Moon decided to refresh himself with a dip in the ocean. He jumped off the pier.
    The Hermits' tour had their reservations at Edmonton, Canada's best hotel turned down at the last minute. The hotel they had to stay in had no T.V. sets and deliberately refused the boys room service. Did they take this sitting down? No! Karl Green and Ralph, among others, in the spirit of the times went into the lobby and picketed the hotel.
    The plane in which the boys had been touring had some engine trouble. Everyone inside the jet was singing. At their emergency landing in Chatanooga, Tenn., they were quite surprised to find that the police, press and television people had all been called out.
    The security at their hotel was so tight that a brother of one of the Blues Magoos had trouble getting to see his own brother.
    One gets the feeling that the show continues, as enacted by the people all around them, twenty-four hours a day.

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