First step on the road to fame. Peter Noone as Len Fairclough's son in Coronation Street.
...straight from school into the world of big spenders

The way Peter Noone went chasing his ambitions there was a danger all his future would be behind him.
    Pop singer at 15. (They let me join the group because me father said he'd be guarantor for all the equipment. Guitars, amplifiers - they were all on H.P. All on the 'drip'.") There were hit records at 16, then hit after hit so that now he has sold 50 million single records.
    Before he was 21 he had signed a contract with a film company for one million dollars, and on his 21st birthday he made a night of it by getting married.
    Recently he was the subject of This Is Your Life. It's as well he has been busy; he is only 24 now. It could have been a very short programme.
    He used to be Herman of Herman and The Hermits fame. The name went because he had a horror of still being a Herman in middle age. "It'd be daft," he says.
    He is open about his past. "I was a right little maniac." He said it as he sat hand in hand with his French wife Mireille who is two years older than him. Her English is fractured, but the missing words are covered by smiles. One word she has picked up is her husband's use of "me." "I vonder vair I should put me coat?" she asks.
    His features are still impish. When he talks about his wild expensive days, before meeting Mireille, it seems slightly incongruous that Herman, who was then even more imp-like and innocent looking, was rushing round and being the right little horror that he says he was. He might have taken part in the wild life, but it doesn't all seem to have been for real.
    There is a nice line he comes out with when he mentions his involvement with "groupie" girls in New York. "I didn't know they were 'groupies.' I thought they liked me." He says it was something that was inevitable. Just a phase that he had to go through. "It was expensive - you wouldn't believe how expensive - but in the end it made me grow up so fast it wasn't true.
    "Wnenever I see a young kid now with a big hit record I know just what he's going to do. I know, I've done it. "I was 17 and they kept throwing money at me..."
    And Peter Noone admits that, innocent-looking or not, money fascinates him. Even now he faithfully fills in his football pools coupon each week. "We came from a very all-right area of Manchester. The sort of area where kids get a bike each Christmas. But I wanted to make money."
    While he was at music college he appeared on Granada Television carol-singing. "And they paid me! Later the same guy came round the college again and I appeared in a series. And they gave me more money. Then I got the part of Len Fairclough's son, Stanley, in Coronation Street and they really paid me a lot of money. And I thought: 'that's it. I'll be an actor.'
    "But for two years no work came in. So to make money I'd sell programmes at Old Trafford and on Saturday nights I'd sell newspapers - the pink and the green."
    He became a pop singer when he joined a local youth club. When bookings came in, he became Peter Novack and The Heartbeats. "But that sounded very corny. A touch of the gold lamè jackets. So then I chose Herman because it sounded like a joke."
    His first record was I'm Into Something Good. The wild days for Peter Noone had begun. They began with cars. "The money came in and I had to have a car. Or rather cars."
    He bought a Jaguar, then a Cadillac, then a Chevrolet, then a Rolls-Royce. Now he drives a Volvo. "It suits me and Mireille. A very reliable car. I've had all the flash ones. I'm lucky I've done it."
    "Those days," he says, I didn't have a thought in my head except that I should look the part. I'd come straight from school into the world of big spenders.
      "That's why I drank. I thought the more you drank the more you were one of the boys. From 17 until 20 - the big money days - I regularly drank a bottle of vodka a day. I hardly drink at all now."
    When his records took off in America, the group was playing dates totalling £4,000 a night, and flying from one venue to the next. "The Beatles went by bus, but we went by plane," he remarks.
    "Two things have been on my side in this business," he says. "Luck and good health. And I needed good health the way I was going." Rather than have a permanent home, he would book hotel suites for months at a time. "When you stop and think how much money I did in for no real reason, it's incredible."
    He says he doesn't regret it. "I'm pleased that I had the chance, but I'm even more pleased that I've been through it and have still got money. I was one of the lucky ones. There are others in the pop business who do in their money and go back to the factory bench. I've got my life planned now. You have one inning and me and Mireille are going to enjoy it. I've money saved now. No, I can't tell you how much. But enough to enjoy it."
    The most Expensive Day Ever cost him £2,000. He was staying in America at the Beverly Hills Hilton. "I remember I had the suite next to the late Gulbenkian and I wondered whether to invite him in for a drink. What a flash little horror I must have been.
    "That day a friend of mine, a drummer in a group, was getting married, and at the time the group didn't earn much so they couldn't afford a reception. So after the wedding I invited everyone back to the hotel. Hundreds came.
    "Everybody remembers that day. I was pleased I could do it. If you saw the couple, they were so in love and everything, you would have done the same, too ..."
    He bought his parents a new home - a 20-bedroomed hotel in Herne Bay, Kent. The gesture ended in a bankruptcy court when his father admitted spending £23,000 in the two years he had managed the hotel. His son now says: "It taught me a lot. My parents and me go our separate ways over things at the moment. I wouldn't bother doing that again unless I was there on the doorstep watching where the money was going.
    "I look after my money now. When I was 20, I'd hardly anything left. I've saved more, now, that I ever had when I was playing America for the big money. But we spend still. Every time I have a break we go on holiday. "We have a wonderful life. I know it, don't tell me. But I want it to go on, so now I'm careful."
    He has left the group behind him. At Christmas he was Dick Whittington in pantomime at Bristol. Soon he will tour with musicians of his own choice.
    "I was looking at my gold discs," he says, "and it was like going back to another era. Ringo's got all of his on the toilet wall. I'll put mine there.
    "Hit records? So much luck. I made Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter. It was made in three minutes - it sold seven million. Daft. "I want to go on being a singer, but I want it to be worthwhile. What I do I want to mean.
    Marriage, he thinks, calmed him down. "The group knew it was the real thing when Mireille came on tour with us. We'd had this rule - no women were to come along. But this was different."
    Mireille says: "He was a very nice, unusual boy. He is a kind, sensitive boy. He is very ... original. Yes? He is like an old man in the business. Always he thinks of security. An old head up there I think."
    Peter Noone says: "We go everywhere together. We get on. She even came as my dresser while I was in pantomime.
    "I know we've the good life. I know I've been lucky; I never stop knowing. Now we're holding on to what we've got."

Peter Noone (second from left) in those wild, Herman and The Hermits, top-of-the-pops days.
Noone is chosen to sing at the Royal Variety Performance.

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