Herman's Hermits / The Who in Cleveland
It's funny these days to remember that The Who's first
U.S. tour was as opening act for Herman's Hermits.
Well, I guess if Jimi Hendrix could open for The
Monkees it's not that strange.
Some of us in Akron were able to get import British
'45s, so we actually were pretty up-to-speed on The
Who, and thought they were the greatest band going.
When the concert came to Cleveland, I was allowed to
go. My friend Greg Bury of The Brambles drove, as I
was still too young to go by myself. I didn't know any
of the Kent folks on this blog yet, as Kent was still
a few years away for young David.
As we had little interest in Herman's Hermits, and
were crazy for The Who, we decided to bail on the
concert at intermission and see if we could follow
them back to their hotel. Amazingly enough, this
worked and we found ourselves pulling up to the lobby
of the Statler-Hilton in Cleveland.
Upon entering the lobby, we found a dozen or so young
fans like ourselves and Roger Daltry holding forth on
a sofa. We heard that John Entwhistle was downstairs
in the adjacent club ( Otto's Grotto, I believe it was
called), and most of our party repaired down there. I
couldn't because I was under 18.
But Greg and I spied Peter Townshend as he was heading
for the elevator, and he was nice enough to stop for a
minute and shake hands and let us tell him we thought
he was great.
Not long after, Peter Noone arrived, and planted
himself in the bar off the lobby. In his wake, a bunch
of teenybopper girls appeared (they must have been
young if they seemed young to me) and wanted to go
talk to "Herman" but were afraid to enter the bar
because they "weren't allowed".
So they waited patiently, and after an hour or so of
mooning and twittering, were rewarded by the sight of
Mr. Noone and a few manager-type associates heading
from the bar into the lobby toward the elevators. We
had been nearby listening to Daltry, who was dressed
splendidly in a flowing paisley capelike jacket,
regale his fans with god-knows-what kind of b.s.
We weren't paying that much attention to Herman's
group, but at that point an interesting thing
happened: a very pissed-off shout loudly echoed
through the lobby, which was "I'm gonna kick your
fucking blooming ass!!!". As all heads turned, we saw
dear sweet Herman (who was not exactly a small guy,
cute press shots notwithstanding) throwing a
roundhouse punch at some drunk guy in a suit.
Apparently this fellow was a hotel guest drinking in
the bar who didn't know or care who Peter Noone was
and had spent the last hour insulting him because he
had long hair. By then Herman had had a few himself
and was ready to mix it up.
Quickly his handlers restrained Noone, who was
frothing and screaming and trying to break loose to
fight this guy, and (no doubt envisioning the morning
papers) they hustled him bodily into the elevators and
upstairs. But not before some 50-ish, short bald man
in a suit with a cigar in his mouth, who appeared to
be about 5 feet tall and was undoubtedly on the
business side of the Hermit's team, said "Why don't
you try that with me, sport !", and pushed the drunk
ass-over-teakettle down a short flight of stairs.
Simultaneously, I noticed two things: one was the
completely horrified expressions on the young
teenybopper girl's faces as some kind of dream
shattered before their eyes, and the other was Roger
Daltrey, now standing on top of the back of the couch,
waving his outstretched arms and singing as loud as he
could a slightly sarcastic rendition of The Beatle's
tune "All You Need Is Love".
After that, everyone pretty much called it a night.