Peter Blair Denis Bernard Noone was born in Davyhulme, Manchester, on Guy Fawkes Day 1947. He attended St. Bede's College and at 11 went on to Manchester School of Music to study drama, speech-training, music and singing. It was while there that he began getting acting parts in such T.V. series as "Knight Errant" and "Coronation Street" (in which he played Len Fairclough's son, Stanley) as well as in various B.B.C. and I.T.V. plays.
But his keenness on pop music drew him nightly into the local clubs, and in particular to wherever a group called The Heartbeats was appearing. His future career was decided the night their singer failed to turn up and he was asked to deputise. He was then about 16.
The reaction of both the group and (perhaps more important) the audience was immediate. He was "adopted" into the Heartbeats straight away - and almost at once two changes took place.
First his similarity in character to Sherman of the T.V. series "The Bullwinkle Show" caused him to be nicknamed "Herman". And a new name, to fit with Herman was chosen for the group. First it was Herman and The Hermits. Then, for the sake of alliteration, Herman's Hermits.
Reaction was immediate. It was literally a case of what Manchester thought one day, London thought the next. For Columbia Records brought them down to record "I'm Into Something Good"/"Your Hand In Mine" - which swiftly rose to the top of the Hit Parade and went on to win the
coveted Gold Disc Award for selling over a million copies. It proved to be only the start of a
string of such Awards for "Just A Little Bit Better", "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat", "Silhouettes", "Wonderful World", "Henry The Eighth", "Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter", "No Milk Today", and "There's A Kind of Hush" have all topped the million mark. So have their albums "Introducing Herman's Hermits", "Herman's Hermits On Tour" and "The Best of Herman's Hermits".
The impact of their sales in America (where their discs are issued by MGM) led to their first tour in the summer of 1965. By now, they have almost lost count of their transatlantic tours. Further, not content that they should play to live audiences of up to 100,000 fans, MGM decided to widen their audience by capturing them on film. Now their two Hollywood pictures have been followed by the recently completed and specially written "Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter" in which they co-star with Stanley Holloway.
Speaking at the time about the picture, Herman explained: "I'm playing a fellow who works in an advertising agency. Karl (Green, that is) is a road digger. Barry (Whitwam) is in a steel factory. Keith (Hopwood) is a telephone engineer. And Lek (Derek Leckenby on his passport) works in a jelly factory! It's a gas, with wonderful colour and costumes and a terrific supporting cast.
"Music? Well, there were a lot of different writers. Including young Graham Gouldman. He's the one who wrote our very successful "Listen People" as well as "No Milk Today" - which was inspired by seeing a note on a friend's doorstep saying just that!
"And just to show how 'with it' everybody concerned with the picture is, the guy who wrote the script is the one who wrote our song, "Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter", Trevor Peacock. He's done a lot of pop music television shows as well."
Almost immediately after completion of the picture (and the boys' first real holiday for almost three years), Herman himself flew to New York to spend one month working on the 90-minute T.V. spectacular "Pinocchio" in which he stars with Burl Ives - and plays the title role.
This is scheduled for British and American screens at Christmas, 1968: a symbolic example of the popularity of this excitingly exhilarating group on both sides of the Atlantic (as well as in Australia, the Far East and the Continent of Europe).
Derek Leckenby (lead and rhythm guitar) is 24 years old and was born in Leeds on May 14th, 1943. Derek is nicknamed and always known as "lek". He moved to Manchester when very young and attended grammar school. From there Lek went to manchester University where he studied Civil Engineering for two years. Lek had owned a guitar for some time and had taught himself to play. One evening, Barry Whitwam came round to his flat while he was studying for his exams. He said he knew that Lek had a guitar and that they were a guitarist short in the group. Lek stood in and later joined up. He carried on with his studies but, unfortunately, failed his exams. Lek would like to take up studies some time in the future and it is his ambition to earn a degree in Civil Engineering. Lek likes reading, particularly biographies and autobiographies.
Barry Whitwam (drums) is 21 years old and was born in Manchester on July 21st, 1946. He first started to play when a local group had a vacancy. Two people were after the job, but Barry bought a kit first and was taken on. He had nine months training in a ladies' salon before giving it up for the group. When this group broke up he joined Herman and The Hermits. They changed the name to Herman's Hermits the night he joined. Barry had two years of lessons on the drums but has taught himself a lot. Likes messing around with boats and cars.
Keith Hopwood (lead and rhythm guitar) is 21 years old and was born in Manchester on October 26th, 1946. Keith attended grammar school and on leaving worked as a telephone engineer. He bought his first guitar at 14 and joined a local group at 16, playing with them for six months. Just as he was packing this group up he was asked to join The Hermits. Likes records and clothes.
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