In Music

Peter Noone: from teen idol to "American Idol"

Peter Noone, a.k.a. Herman of the '60s pop band Herman's Hermits, is on his way to Milwaukee for a trio of shows this week at Potawatomi Bingo Casino's Northern Lights Theater.

You may have seen Noone a few weeks ago on "American Idol" when the hit TV show used the British Invasion as the theme of the song selections. Noone appeared as voice coach for the male contestants, whom he affectionately refers to as "his boys" -- yes, including continuous contestant Sanjaya -- whom he says "is a nice kid. I hope he does well."

Noone is an accomplished performer with an all-ages appeal who skyrocketed to stardom in his teens as the front man of Herman's Hermits, who scored big successes in America and Britain with songs like "I'm Into Something Good," "Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter," "I'm Henry VIII, I Am" and "There's a Kind of Hush."

Noone has spent the past 40-plus years entertaining in concert, on TV, on film and on Broadway; pretty good qualifications for an "American Idol" coach. Still, he says it's the first time he's been considered an "expert" at anything.

He was flattered to be invited to tutor the young talent on the show, especially considering the other stars who've also been vocal coaches this season -- Tony Bennett, Diana Ross and Gwen Stefani. Noone calls his participation in "American Idol," "a very good experience."

On the show, Noone chatted on-camera with host Ryan Seacrest and cheerfully --- and insightfully -- pointed out to Simon Cowell that "American Idol" is not a singing competition, but a voting competition. That bold but accurate observation not only scored him a dastardly and disgusted look from Cowell, but also got him quoted in Time magazine.

Noone understands the appeal and attachment viewers feel to their favorite contestants; he felt the same when he started watching the show to bone up for his guest spots.

"American Idol" airs in 30 countries and his appearance caused a surge of visitors to his Web site, lots of online downloads and more recognition in airports by fans of all ages.

If you saw his performance of "A Kind of Hush," on the show you got a good glimpse of what a Noone concert is like. His fun-filled live performances showcase his singing and his charming and cheeky wit. Noone can channel a mean Johnny Cash for a few refrains, balanced by a silly Mick Jagger impersonation.

Noone is Web savvy and he uses his site to connect his fans worldwide, to blog as one of his many alter-ego characters, and of course, sell CDs.

Noone admired the sects of Grateful Dead Deadheads and Jimmy Buffet Parrotheads and found that the Internet was an effective way to create his own following, called Noonatics.

Noonatics meet for dinners and pre-concert parties, at which Noone often appears.

Noone is particularly proud of his fans for taking initiative to raise money to help fellow '60s performer, Mike Smith, lead singer of The Dave Clark Five. Smith has been hospitalized in London since sustaining a spinal injury in 2003.


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