Herman and Hermits to work apart, but no split

    THE thought of Herman dressed up to the nines in top hat and tails, high stepping it across the board on Broadway is something that raises a grin, but the eventuality of it happening is not too remote. If that was what he had to do to achieve his ambition, then he'd do it.
    So many people say: "I want to be an all-around entertainer" that it becomes as hackneyed as "We're just good friends." Herman didn't put it quite that way when we met for lunch and he as able, as so many others are not, to explain why and what he has in mind.
    "All actors want to be singers and all bank managers want to be robbers. I was an actor but I still haven't mastered stage presence. I've still got a lot to learn," he told me.
    "Really, I want to be an entertainer. Nothing specific - I don't want to be an actor. I don't want to be a singer. If I have to put on my tap dancing shoes, that's still entertaining."
    We got round to talking along these lines when I questioned Herman about the latest show biz rumour, that he and the Hermits are to part company.
    "I had an offer to work on my own for fourteen weeks and the Hermits thought if I was doing that, they ought to get an act together and work without me.

On the dole
    "There's no question of splitting up, the Hermits could do two one-nighters a week to earn some money because when I'm working on my own they're more or less on the dole.
    "I still get offered things on my own. I did 'Pinocchio' which opened up a new market. I've been offered a show on Broadway, but it would have to be the right kind of show for me.
    "I represent Herman's Hermits and in a Broadway show they can't have Herman's Hermits. So it all keeps coming back to when am I leaving the group and everything?
    "I'd like to keep two things going. If I get six months in America on my own then I'll do that but still do singles with Herman's Hermits."
    We don't see as much of Herman's Hermits as we used to a couple of years ago and Herman puts that down to the sort of work he wants to do. If it isn't the right kind, he won't accept it. Summer seasons are being offered but he can't stand the thought of that.
    "I couldn't stick fourteen weeks in Blackpool," he said with alook of pain on his face. "It's ideal for someone like Jimmy Tarbuck who can play golf all day, but I'd go mad. Being stuck in one place for a long time is terrible.
    "I didn't mind the pantomime at Streatham because if you're in London you can go home every night and still eat well and live well.
    On the lack of tours in America, a place where Herman's Hermits have earned fortunes, he explained: "We could have done a tour in late '69 in America but at the time there was a big transition going on, the music business was splitting up a lot.
    "There was a lot of what they call Underground music coming up and a lot of the groups like the Monkees and the Archies.
    "We decided not to do a tour unless it was guaranteed to be a big success and it looked as though we'd only get a small percentage. We didn't know enough about American promotion so in the end we decided to leave it for a year and see if a demand was created.

      "There was also a possibility of a Canadian college tour but there's the problem of the audiences being very split.
    "There's some who like our kind of act and those who like Peter, Paul and Mary and then those who like Led Zeppelin type of people, which is always very dodgy because if you go there and don't do good business, you won't get asked again.
    "We're not in such a position that we have to dash over there to get money. In fact we're all rather well off so we can afford to wait. Our kind of booking is at a venue in a big town that is specifically for the family audience because Herman's Hermits are a family type of entertainment.
    "I went through a stage where I thought the most important thing was to make money and be damned with the success, whether there was a thousand people there or ten thousand people I'd still get paid. Now I think it's better to do a show for ten thousand. We'll just wait for the demand to be there."
    He sipped his glass of red wine, thought for a moment and went on: "There's a lot of things that I can do. I don't have to be a member of Herman's Hermits, there are other ways to earn a living.
    "Acting? Yeah, but I have to be myself. I can't see myself doing Shakespeare. I prefer to be Pinocchio. I was like that at one stage of my life, every kid goes through Pinocchio.
    "If I find the right musical for me to do that would be okay, anything that's really interesting. I'm not an actor. I can act parts that I've lived through.
    "I've really done a lot in twenty two years. I could play a drunk and things like that, things I am or have been I could play. There could easily be a musical about Peter Noone that would have bar sets and night club sets but I could never be a Henry VIII because I don't believe in those parts."
    It's almost a year now since Herman's had a hit and I wondered if he had abandoned his plan to record straighter records than his usual sing-along songs. "Years May Come, Years May Go" is a return to the style he had before "My Sentimental Friend" and "Here Comes The Star."
    "Yeah, I have," he admitted. "I used to say I didn't want to do sing-alongs things, but I don't mean that now. We didn't get 'Top of The Pops' on the last one so it didn't get that boost it needed and there were so many records out at the same time it just got lost.

Rio Festival
    "This new one was in the Rio song festival which I didn't know until I read it in your paper. Mickie Most brought me the record and said 'That's going to be a No. 1,' he often does that and I thought he was sending me up.
    "It was really awful with this trumpet going (brief impersonation of a trumpet) and it sounded like Eddie Calvert. When he said it was for us I nearly fell over.
    "Then he got Jack Fishman to put new lyrics to it. Originally it was about a guy standing on the top of a mountain calling to his girl over the valley and there were all echoes. I couldn't believe it.
    "It was a choice between 'Temma Harbour' and this one, but Mary Hopkin had to have the best, so we got left with this. Actually, I don't mind it now, it's ideal for all those cabaret places where you can get the people singing along."

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