Originally known as the Heartbeats, Hermans Hermits were discovered in 1963 by manager Harvey Lisberg and his partner Charlie Silverman. After restructuring the group, the line-up emerged as Peter Noone (5 November 1947, Manchester, England; vocals), Karl Green (b. 31 July 1947, Salford, Manchester, England; bass), Keith Hopwood (b. 26 October 1946, Manchester, England; rhythm guitar), Lek Leckenby (b. Derek Leckenby, 14 May 1946, Leeds, England, d. 4 June 1994, Manchester, England; lead guitar) and Barry Whitwam (b. 21 July 1946, Manchester, England; drums - formerly a member of Leckenbys first group, the Wailers). A link with producer Mickie Most and an infectious cover of Earl Jeans US hit, Im Into Something Good gave the quintet a UK number 1 in 1964. By early 1965, the group had settled into covering 50s songs such as the Rays Silhouettes and Sam Cooke s Wonderful World, when an extraordinary invasion of America saw them challenge the Beatles as a chart act with over 10 million record sales in under 12 months. A stream of non-stop hits over the next two years, including the vaudevillian Mrs Brown Youve Got A Lovely Daughter and Im Henry VIII, I Am, effectively transformed them into teen idols. Director Sam Katzman even cast them in a couple of movies, When The Boys Meet The Girls (co-starring Connie Francis) and Hold On!
Although their music-hall-inspired US chart-toppers were not issued as singles in the UK, they enjoyed a run of hits penned by the leading commercial songwriters of the day. A Must To Avoid and No Milk Today were inventive as well as catchy, although by 1968/9 their repertoire had become more formulaic. The hits continued until as late as 1970 when Noone finally decided to pursue a solo career. Thereafter, Hermans Hermits drifted into cabaret. Although a reunion concert did take place at Madison Square Garden in New York in 1973, stage replacements for Noone were later sought, including Peter Cowap, Karl Green, Garth Elliott and Rod Gerrard. Noone eventually settled in California, where he presented his own music show on television, and rekindled an acting career which had begun many years earlier on the top UK soap opera, Coronation Street. Hopwood left the band in 1971 and set up his own company, Pluto Music. Leckenby died in 1994 following a long fight with cancer.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.