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Sunday, April 11, 2021

In Market: Mrs. Brown still has a lovely daughter

I’m Henry the VIII, I am

Henry the VIII, I am, I am…

If you now have this song twisting around your brain like a tuneful anaconda, you probably grew up in the sixties. Second verse, same as the first.

I’m Henry the VIII, I Am was a pop song, via 1900s British vaudeville, by a slightly off-kilter British invasion band, Herman’s Hermits. Led by a 16-year-old Peter Noone, the Hermits weren’t raising pop music to a high art sheen like the Beatles or frightening parents like the Rolling Stones. Still, the group, who, unlike the other British invasion bands, were all the age of the teenagers who were buying their singles, made an impact.

The band churned out nearly a dozen top-10 hits from 1964 to 1967 – plenty of hits for a band that had the social conscience of a puppy – including I’m Into Something Good, Wonderful World, and another vaudeville retread: Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter.

Noone, 69, is still touring and, in a recent interview with The Washington Post, said the band “had this fun, amusing, don’t-take-ourselves-serious (attitude). It was like self-deprecation music. We knew that we were not sexy, so we couldn’t go ‘since my baby left me,’ so we did My Boy Lollipop. People got the joke. And we’d sing Mother-in-Law, because a 15-year-old singing Mother-in-Law is a really great joke.”

Herman’s Hermits were no joke to another 15-year-old in Fort Worth in 1966: Paschal sophomore John Fletcher. Fletcher’s father managed KXOL, which was one of the top AM radio stations in the area and often sponsored concerts in town. The Hermits were coming to town and Fletcher wanted to see the band that had the hottest platters his father’s station was spinning.

Fletcher was told that if he, his brother and a couple of friends would hand out some KXOL bumper stickers before the show, they would get seats to the show. Fletcher expected some seats in the back. Fine with him, as long as he got to check out the band.

I’ll let him tell what happened:

As show time approached, I asked the program director, Don Day, where our seats were. He told us each to grab a folding chair and follow him. We walked past the 20th row and I was impressed… then past the 10th and then the fifth. Don then put our chairs INSIDE THE BARRICADE so we were sitting in front of the front row.

I found myself occasionally waving at the band when they passed on the revolving stage.

The seats were great, but the impact on the young sophomore’s reputation…well that was what every high school guy dreams of…

I recall seeing some of the really “cool girls” in my class sitting on the seventh row and they were yelling to find out how we were able to secure these seats. I was somewhat of a nerd back then but for those two hours, I was a really cool guy.

Flash forward 50 years and Fletcher hears that Herman, aka Noone, is playing the Arlington Music Hall.

The seats weren’t as good, but the music was, Fletcher says. He met Noone and told him the story.

“I told him that for a day or two he made me very popular in school,” Fletcher said.

“He thought the story was cool and he remembered the concert venue, Will Rogers Coliseum,” said Fletcher.

“I told him it was 50 years ago and he told me to say it was ‘a while ago.’”

Noone still has a bit of that self-deprecating humor that served him well so many years ago. From the stage, he told this story: “I’m in the airport at Love Field, where we flew in 50 years ago, and two girls walk up to me and ask to have their photo made with Nick Nolte.

“Just think … somewhere in a bar in New Jersey is Nick Nolte and women are asking him to sing, Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter!”

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Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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