So, we have the second number one from Herman’s Hermits with Peter Noone still singing lead and playing the part of Herman. Now, he singing as if he were Henry or from the way it is pronounced in the song, “Henery,” or to be more precise, it is sung as a cockney person would pronounce it, “‘Enery.” This song goes back to 1910 when it was sung in the British music halls during vaudeville. It was written by Fred Murray and R.P. Weston and first sung by music hall star Harry Champion. Champion was a music hall composer, singer and Cockney comedian who lived in London during the first half of the Twentieth Century.
When Champion sang the song in the early 1900s, he changed the line that says, “She wouldn’t have a Willie or a Sam” from “Willie” to “William” because willie was British slang for penis. It’s interesting to note that Herman’s Hermits sang it as it was originally written, using the term Willie.
Herman’s Hermits never had a third number one, but they were very successful until about 1968 when they stopped charting in the United States. It was in 1968 that they starred in their second motion picture, based on their first number one, Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter. In the movie the group sings seven songs, one of which is the title song and also “There’s a Kind of Hush” which was their last Top 10 song in America the year before. The film is not recognized as a particularly good piece of filmmaking.
Peter Noone stayed with the group until 1973 when he could see that Herman’s Hermits were done and so, he left the group and started a solo career. Their parting was not particularly amicable. Peter sued to retain the name Herman’s Hermits but lost, so the Hermits went on alone without Peter. Peter moved to New York where he ran a clothing boutique for a few years. In 1980, he formed another group called The Tremblers, but they only lasted a year or so.
Today, Peter rides the oldie circuit singing Herman’s Hermits’ songs. As I mentioned in the former article, I saw him sometime in the mid 2000’s and, honestly, all you need is Peter Noone and you have Herman’s Hermits. He was certainly the voice of the group and he really didn’t need the other guys to sing the old great songs.
“I’m Henry VIII, I Am” debuted on the pop charts in America on July 10, 1965 and spent one week at number one.
This video is only about 45 seconds long, but it’s the best I could find that shows Herman’s Hermits at their peak of popularity in 1965. I think this is a promo for the Ed Sullivan video pack that is shown at the end. It’s enough to get a feel for how the song sounded in 1965.