Hermits stateside for Riverfest, other shows
07/31/2008, 10:41 am
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Mike Murphy, firstname.lastname@example.org, 815-431-4031
Photo: Photo provided
Members of Herman's Hermits Starring Barry Whitwam (from left) Eddy Carter, Barry Whitwam, Geoff Foot and Kevan Lingard relax during their Australia tour of 2007. The group has not performed in the United States in three years.
It beats working for a living.
That's what the front man of Herman's Hermits starring Barry Whitwam says about his occupation as the only member of the British Invasion rock 'n' roll group who still remains in the band.
"We don't have day jobs," Whitwam said in a recent telephone interview from his Manchester , England , home. "I've never had a day job, other than (as a) ladies' hairdresser for 18 months in 1962 and 1963. We just play rock 'n' roll and good old songs from Herman's Hermits."
That's what Whitwam and the three other Hermits will be doing Saturday at Ottawa 's Riverfest. They'll play two sets, each preceded with music by The Britins, a Wisconsin-based Beatles tribute band.
A drummer and lifelong Manchester resident, Whitwam, 62, still regularly tours with the other three Hermits -- Geoff Foot, Eddy Carter and Kevan Lingard -- in Europe, Australia and Asia. The United States hasn't been part of the Hermits' regular schedule.
"Over the last three years we've had a break from the states. Now we're going to try to test the waters again. It's a legal thing with (former Herman's Hermits lead singer) Peter Noone," Whitwam said.
"He's doing all the gigs we were, but now we're going to give it another try, just for two weeks, and we'll probably enjoy it like we used to. It's a fantastic place, America . We'll play the Wisconsin State Fair. We still hold the record for the international stage for attendance. No one's broken it yet."
Noone is the face most people associate with the Hermits, but he left the band in 1971. Now an American citizen, Noone fronts Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone.
"In America , we have to call ourselves Herman's Hermits starring Barry Whitwam. It's a legal thing between me and Peter Noone. To the rest of the world, we're Herman's Hermits," Whitwam said.
Whitwam's Hermits are Noone-less, yet nonetheless still draw crowds.
"We travel the world every year. We go around the world and see people enjoying themselves and it's great job satisfaction, after an hour-and-a-half show seeing people standing up, giving you a round of applause and cheering for more. You can't beat it," Whitwam said.
The Hermits formed in the early 1960s, with Whitwam, Noone, Karl Green, Keith Hopwood and Derek "Lek" Leckenby performing together. A pair of other British Invasion groups -- the Hollies and Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders -- also emerged from Manchester .
Herman's Hermits, however, hit it big early. Their mid-1960s hits included "I'm Into Something Good," "I'm Henry the Eighth, I Am," "There's A Kind of Hush (All Over the World)" and "Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter," among others.
Whitwam, the last of the original Hermits, never got off the merry-go-round.
"We had a local band, but I didn't think it would last (more than) a couple of years," he said. "Then Herman's Hermits was formed April 1, 1964, and we get a hit record, and I thought, 'Well, how long is this going to last?'
"And I keep wondering 'Well, how long is this going to last?' and I keep still saying it, and it's 44 years later. It's been a great career for me. And I still enjoy it. I love playing live performances, seeing people enjoying themselves and talking to the people after the show; It's great. There's nothing I'd rather do in my life."
The Hermits recently released "Journey," a CD consisting of 12 re-recorded old hits, five original songs and 10 live tracks from a concert in Germany .
"Twenty-seven songs all squashed onto one (disc)," Whitwam said. "It was only recorded last year, and it was good. They said they only had a couple of spare seconds on the disc. They say you can pack 84 minutes onto a disc, and we did that."
The Ottawa show will include many of the old hits, including "She's A Lady," a Foote composition that was a European hit for the group in 1970s. "Lady" was on "Whale of the Tale," the last original Hermits album and one that never was released.
A medley of American pop classics from the late 1950s and early 1960s -- including "Oh Carol" (Paul Anka), "Dream Lover" (Bobby Darin) "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" (the Shirelles) and "Runaround Sue" (Dion) -- also will be featured.
The Hermits are friends with the Britins, who will play before and after them Saturday.
"The Britins have been working with the Hermits going back at least 15 years," said Michael Stempski of the Britins. "This is the only show we are doing with the Hermits this year due to conflicting schedules. We usually do two to four (concerts) when they come to town because the bands work so well together."
The Hermits and the Britins have played in and around Wisconsin for years, but Whitwam said Saturday will mark the band's first appearance in Ottawa .
"Like everybody else, I thought Ottawa was in Canada ," he said. "But I'm looking forward to it. Ottawa sounds like a great place."
HERMAN'S HERMITS STARRING BARRY WHITWAM will play Saturday night at Ottawa Riverfest.
PERFORMANCES WILL take place at 8:30 and 11 p.m. Saturday at the Taste of Ottawa stage on Albin-Stevens Drive .
THE BRITINS, a Beatles tribute band, will play the Taste stage at 7 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. Admission will be free to all Herman's Hermits and Britins shows.