Hermits are into something good at Ipswich Regent, drummer Barry Whitwam talks Sensational 60s Experience
- Credit: Archant
Event’s Martin Hutchinson talks to Herman’s Hermits drummer Barry Whitwam, visiting Ipswich as part of The Sensational 60s Experience.
Herman’s Hermits very nearly didn’t come into existence, as the original band - with a different name - broke up.
“We were originally called The Wailers and had taken the gamble of giving up our day jobs,” says drummer and sole remaining founder member Whitwam.
“But our records weren’t successful and we split up. Then myself, Derek Leckenby and Ian Waller decided to rejoin on the proviso that we change the name of the band.”
Thus was Herman’s Hermits born, with ex-Coronation Street actor Peter Noone fronting the band.
“He looked like a character from an American comic book called Sherman,” says Barry. “Next, we got Mickie Most to come and see us play at The Beachcomber Club in Bolton, and he signed us up.”
Things quickly got into motion for Whitwam and the boys.
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“The next week, we were performing in Manchester and learnt I’m Into Something Good. We drove overnight to London and got to the EMI Studios in London’s Manchester Square at 9.30am. We were set up by 10am and out at noon, having recorded that song and the flip side.”
But it nearly wasn’t released.
“No, Mickie wasn’t keen, it was his wife who really liked it.”
That was in April 1964 and in September it was at number one in the charts.
That was just one of the highlights for Whitwam in the 50-year career of Herman’s Hermits, who are headlining the Sensational 60s Experience tour travelling the country. .
“There have been so many ups. We’d just done an American tour in 1965 and finished up in Hawaii and we got a call from Colonel Tom Parker saying Elvis Presley wanted to meet us. (Elvis was filming the movie Paradise Hawaiian Style at the time) so me and Peter spent two hours with him one afternoon. He wanted to know why five lads from Manchester were selling more records than he was,” he laughs.
At the time, the band was actually selling more records in the US than The Beatles. Among their 23 Top 20 singles were There’s a Kind of Hush, Something is Happening and Silhouettes.
Noone went solo in 1971, but the rest played on.
“We can’t wait to get out on the tour and play,” says Whitwam. “We have three singers in the band, so we have tremendous harmonies and we are still getting the 60s sound – it’s important to have that.”
Also on the bill for the tour are The Swinging Blue Jeans, known for Hippy Hippy Shake and You’re No Good; The Ivy League, whose hits included Tossing and Turning and Funny How Love Can Be; Dave Berry, known for The Crying Game, Mama and Little Things plus Union Gap UK who will be performing the hits of The Union Gap including Young Girl and Lady Willpower.
This is also the only 1960s package tour doing the rounds boasting its’ own compere in the form of Alan Mosca of Freddie and The Dreamers, whose anecdotes are becoming legendary.
“There’s a lot of travelling, but it’s great fun,” says Whitwam. “In fact, we enjoy it so much that we will be on the next tour, which will take us into 2017.”
As to the continued popularity, he sums it up simply.
“The songs were very popular and luckily we still look good. We play the songs well and the people really enjoy it.”
The Sensational 60s Experience, featuring Herman’s Hermits, The Swinging Blue Jeans, The Ivy League, Dave Berry, Union Gap UK and hosted by Alan Mosca, will be appearing at the Ipswich Regent on Friday, March 13.