Fifty years after the British Invasion changed pop music, one of the movement’s most prominent figures, Herman’s Hermits, will make its Aspen debut at Belly Up tonight.
Front man Peter Noone was 15 years old when he began performing as “Herman,” singing the enduring mid-60s hits “I’m Into Something Good,” “I’m Henry VIII, I Am” and “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter,” among others.
The band’s success in the U.S. landed the youngster on the cover of Time magazine in May 1965 and saw his outfit-topping fellow Brits, The Beatles and Rolling Stones on the Billboard charts.
Now 66, Noone said he believes the songs have endured not only as baby boomer nostalgia pieces, but as pop creations that transcend generations.
“I think that my songs contain the magic and mysterious ingredient, which may be great tunes and a romantic theme, which both have some appeal for all ages of fans of popular music,” he said via email from Europe.
Unlike scores of child stars, Noone grew into adulthood without crashing and burning. Noone was already a well-known TV actor at age 12, on the British soap opera “Coronation Street,” and an international pop star just a few years later. Asked about the familiar pitfalls of child stardom and how he avoided them, Noone said he believes most young performers are coddled by their handlers and left without adult-life skills.
“(They) always have someone doing everything for them, like booking hotels, buying plane tickets, making sure they eat organic food and basically running the person’s life for them,” he said. “I was totally independent, and my parents refused to let anyone interfere.”
His teachers at English Martyrs’ Catholic School and St. Bedes College, he said, stressed that failure was a part of life and emboldened him to aim big and be willing to fail.
“No one interrupted my mission, and I failed regularly, with only myself to blame,” he said. “I was taught that if I wanted to own my successes I had to own my failures. I have far more failures than successes, but I don’t tell anyone about my failures and I shout out my successes really loudly.”
The child stars that fail in adulthood, he argued, blame their agents, managers and parents rather than looking at themselves.
Though his songs with Herman’s Hermits left his biggest impression on the culture, Noone also went on to produce records by the likes of David Bowie and to star in Broadway productions. In recent years, he’s hosted the popular weekly Sirius XM show “Something Good with Peter Noone” and returned to touring with Herman’s Hermits. He is the only original member in the lineup playing Aspen — original drummer Barry Whitwam has a different outfit that also tours as the Hermits. Noone has never played Aspen before, but has become a frequent visitor in recent years, skiing here with his wife and daughter.
As Noone and the Hermits followed The Beatles into the U.S., he said he aimed to avoid the pandemonium that followed the Fab Four everywhere they went.
“I chose the name Herman,” he said, “because I believed, naively, that no girl would ever scream the name ‘Herman!’”
Five decades on from his chart-topping days, Noone said playing the songs he popularized as a teenager is still fun and remains satisfying.
“Imagine yourself onstage singing the first line of a song that is yours and seeing people smile the smile of a pleasant memory,” he said, “then you see 100 percent of the audience sing along — knowing all the words to both verses.”