Friday, March 12, 2010

Fond Memories of Herman's Hermits and Fats Waller

When the Beatles burst onto the American Pop scene in the early sixties, they shifted the appearance of pop stars as well as the style of music. The Monkees, the Dave Calrk Five and Herman's Hermits were among the groups that sported haircuts that resembled the Beatles. Although some scoff at the less well known groups as Beatles knockoffs, there was a lot of talent in that wave of music that deserves to be remembered.

Herman's Hermits is an English band that was founded in 1963 as Herman and the Hermits. They hailed from Manchester in the north of England. "I'm Into Something Good" was their sole British Number One hit, although other songs got plenty of play on both sides of the "big pond". In America, "Mrs Brown You Have a Lovely Daughter" and "Henry the Eighth" hit #1 on the charts.

I still remember parroting the words as a second grader and being vaguely aware that there was also a king of England by that name. To a child, it was a catchy song, but nowhere nearly as compelling as "Puff the Magic Dragon", which became wildly popular as a children's song. I still remember hearing it sung on children's television shows such as Bozo the Clown. I was quite shocked when I found out later that the song was allegedly about the effects of marijuana. I still don't quite believe it. If you really want to hear a song about marijuana, you can listen to Fats Waller sing "The Reefer Song"
The song was made back in 1943. Marijuana was illegal back then, but had only been illegal until 1937, some six years before the song was recorded. It is funny to liten to it and hear "the munchies" described in 1940's slang. My father was a big time fan of Fats Waller. He used to go to jazz clubs in Harlem back in the 40's. He told us that it was from those days that he knew the distinctive smell of "weed. I wonder what he would have said about the Reefer Song.

Fats Waller, like Herman's Hermits did not achieve the enduring fame of other musicians of his time such as Louis Armstrong. But it would be great if there were a Fats Waller revival as well as a Herman's Hermits revival. I can remember plenty of great music from my youth. I wish some of the people who promote music would do so as well.

Fats Waller Don't Let it Bother You

There's a Kind of Hush

No Milk Today

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