The quintet from Manchester, England was made up of Peter Noone, Derek Leckenby, Keith Hopwood, Karl Green and Barry Whitwam. The group’s sound was styled similarly to the America surf rock they enjoyed listening to. Lead vocalist Peter Noone, who was only 15 years old when the group got together, took the nickname “Herman” after the character Sherman in the Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons. Following their first hugely successful 1964 release in the UK “I’m Into Something Good,” the young, clean-cut group went on to play a pivotal role in British Invasion.
After their song “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” reached number one on the U.S. Billboard charts in the summer of 1965, Herman’s Hermits was set to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show. Noone recalls “They played us because we were British. But Ed Sullivan liked Herman’s Hermits which was very good for us. And he gave us great introductions, but he always got everybody’s name in the band wrong.”
On June 6th 1965, Hermania, a younger rival to Beatlemania, infected The Ed Sullivan Show. It was evident in the screams of the studio audience as Ed Sullivan introduced the group. Herman’s Hermits opened with their hit, “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” on a set that resembled an English street. Throughout the song a young, innocent looking Peter Noone made coy facial expressions and shot playful glances to the crowd. It was clear he knew what he was doing as he later stated, “On stage I make myself look as young as possible and then all the girls in the audience go ‘aahh, isn’t he nice’.” Noone got the desired effect as teenage girls screamed throughout the whole performance.
The band followed with the British music hall song “I’m Henry the Eighth, I Am,” and Sam Cooke’s “Wonderful World.” During the performance of “I’m Henry the Eighth, I Am,” Peter really exaggerated his Manchester accent for the American audience. Following that evening’s performance, the song really took off and by August it was number one.
Herman’s Hermits returned to The Ed Sullivan Show on June 19, 1966. During the commercial break before they took the stage, the teenage girls in the audience were screaming and getting all worked up. Ed jokingly remarked, “Oh to be young.” After the break, the boys, with matching suits and shaggy hairdos, performed “Isn’t That Just a Little Bit Better” and “Jezebel.” Peter Noone picked up right where he left off with his charming smirks and waves to the crowd. At the end of the second song, the lights cut out and there was a collective groan from the audience who had hoped the band would do one more song.
Herman’s Hermits returned to The Ed Sullivan Show one last time on September 18, 1966. They took the stage with each member dressed in different colored pinstripe suit. The suits worked perfectly with the bright and colorful set, which looked like something straight out of Swinging London. The band opened with their newest hit “Dandy,” with an upbeat Peter walking around the stage singing a few lines with each band mate. Then the lights faded out for “L’Autre Jour”, which Noone sang in French and English. Herman’s Hermits closed out their final Sullivan show with “My Reservation’s Been Confirmed” before taking a bow to the screams of their adoring fans.
By the late 1960’s, with the rise of similar acts such as Davy Jones and the Monkees, Herman’s Hermits popularity was on the decline and the group decided to split. While the span of Herman’s Hermits run didn’t last as long The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, their eleven top ten hits makes them one of the most successful groups of The British Invasion.