PLAINS TOWNSHIP — “Mrs. Brown, you’ve got a lovely daughter.
Girls as sharp as her are somethin’ rare.
But it’s sad. She doesn’t love me now.
She’s made it clear enough. It ain’t no good to pine.
…. Walkin’ about, even in a crowd, well,
You’ll pick her out. Makes a bloke feel so proud …”
OK, you don’t even need the word “bloke” to recognize this is a British song.
That’s because the engaging young voice that made “Mrs. Brown” famous probably had one of the most unmistakenly fresh-out-of-Manchester accents to ever accompany a song to the top of the Billboard chart.
To a reporter’s American ears Peter Noone, lead singer of Herman’s Hermits, still sounds very English, 53 years after “Mrs. Brown” was No. 1 in the United States and Canada. But not everyone would agree.
“When I go back to England, people say, ‘Oh you sound like an American’,” said Noone, who has lived in California for years. “When I’m in America, people say I have an English accent … Some people say that when you’re in fifth grade, wherever you are, that’s the accent you’ll have for life.”
Noone, who will sing during a concert that starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Keystone Grand Ballroom at Mohegan Sun Pocono, recalled during a recent telephone interview that when he was a fifth-grade lad, he lived in Manchester with his grandparents while his parents attended university.
“My mum went to Cambridge and dad went to Edinburgh,” he said, explaining their studies had been delayed by World War II. “Dad did accountancy and my mother must have done almost the same thing because they were both CPAs.”
Noone believes he inherited his parents’ knack for handling numbers.
“You have to be a bit of an accountant to be in a band,” he said. “You have to rent a van and do all that stuff. I was good at that and I became the leader of the band because I had a credit card.”
A teenage Noone and his band mates adopted the name Herman’s Hermits one night when they were rehearsing in a pub. “The guy who owned the pub came up, and we were doing a Buddy Holly parody. He said, ‘Who are you doing?’ and we said, ‘Can’t you tell it’s Buddy Holly?’ and he said, ‘No, you’re more like Sherman from The Bullwinkle Show.”
Somehow “Sherman” evolved into “Herman” and the pub owner further suggested “you can call yourself ‘the bloody hermits’.”
Herman and the Hermits achieved great success, joining fellow countrymen who were known as The Beatles, The Kinks and The Rolling Stones in a “British Invasion” that had American teenage girls screaming with excitement.
“It just got bigger and bigger,” Noone said. “I remember we had one girl — I think her name was Margaret — and she would sit at the front of the stage and listen to us. Later there were three people, then 20, then 500, then 1,000. Then 10,000.”
Some of the hits the ever-expanding circle of fans enjoyed were “I’m Into Something Good,” “Silhouettes,” “There’s a Kind of Hush” and “I’m Henry VIII, I Am.”
About that last number — if you thought “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter” was a really British song, you’ve got to hear the heavily Cockney way Noone sang about being ‘En-er-y the eighth,” dragging the first name out to three syllables and dropping the “H.”
He wasn’t singing about being part of the Tudor royal family, of course. Rather, he was in character as a bloke who “married the widow next door. She’s been married seven times before. And every one was an ‘En-er-y. She wouldn’t have a Willy or a Sam. I’m her eighth old man, I’m ‘En-er-y. ‘En-er-y the Eighth I am.”
You can expect to hear those favorites from the ’60s if you attend the concert at Mohegan Sun Pocono.
“We do all the Herman’s Hermits songs and lots of other fun songs — a Monkees song, a Stones song, a Beatles song,” he said, adding he got to know people from those other bands.
“Everybody who was in a band in England would run into each other,” he said. “It’s a very small country. People don’t realize that until you go there.”
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT