The drummer boy who never grows up!

Jul 2016 The drummer boy who never grows up!

By Barry Whitwham

The Beat editor David Parker asked Herman’s Hermits stalwart Barry Whitwham to tell readers about his 50 years on the drums.

This is Barry’s story, straight from the drummer’s sticks.

Where to start?

In January – my 70th year and Herman’s Hermits 52nd year, we hit the ground running, starting with a five weeks tour of Germany, closely followed by the second half of the 2015/16 Sensational Sixties Experience Tour with our good friends Chris Farlowe, Steve Ellis, New Amen Corner, Union Gap UK, and Alan Mosca.

During a break between dates, we managed to fit in a tour of Denmark and Norway from April 19 to May 1. Pat and I then went on a well-deserved three-week holiday to our secret hideaway in Puerto Pollensa, Mallorca: then, back to a few UK gigs and the final Sensational Sixties Experience Tour date in Chatham on June 10.

We had more UK bookings to fulfil between then and my 70th on July 21, and will then will be leaving for a four-week tour of Australia on July 26. Upon returning, we will indulge in another three-week holiday in Mallorca, and then the new Sensational Sixties Tour begins on October 6 at Cheltenham Civic Centre.

This year the line-up will be Herman’s Hermits, joined by Chris Farlowe, The Ivy League, New Amen Corner, The Swinging Blue Jeans, The Fortunes, and Alan Mosca. The first half ends on December 10 in Stoke. The second half begins in March, 2017.

Before we start the tour, I will have visited every joke shop I can find in Australia to update my bag of tricks, in an attempt to outdo New Amen Corner’s fiendish sense of humour – they have an unending store of frighteningly original practical jokes, and I admit to finding it extremely difficult to top theirs, after we finally stop laughing.

The Sensational Sixties Experience is the brainchild of Billy McGregor and Alan Wearmouth of Stageright Promotions, who do a fantastic job, attending every show and outselling all other Sixties shows on the circuit. It is a pleasure to work with them on this – our seventh – tour; and long may it continue, as every year they manage to maintain the highest standard of Sixties music by recruiting old favourites from previous tours and new additions, the new line-up being a great example of this.

Having admitted to my age on this next birthday, I can also admit to experiencing difficulties after a major operation on my right shoulder this time last year. After the op, I was told to rest for six weeks, because I went in for a minor operation, having fitted the date in between gigs, to wake up to be told by the consultant he had had to carry out a full Rotator Cuff procedure and to repair damage to tendons and bicep which had become frayed – and no drumming!

This proved extremely difficult as my next three gigs were in 10 days’ time. Naturally, we could not let anyone down at such short notice, so I gently took the wheel again, dispensed with the sling, which should have been worn for the six weeks, invested in a shoulder support from Amazon, and hit the road.

Unfortunately, these half a dozen or so gigs were followed by a five weeks tour of Australia, two shows a night, including drum solos, which I managed by lowering all cymbals and removing one of the Tom Toms in front of me.

On returning from Australia, we indulged in another three weeks in Mallorca to recuperate in preparation for the start of the last year’s Sensational Sixties Tour which started at the beginning of October: but, by November, I feared I needed another operation as not much seemed to have improved. Surprise!

The consultant guessed I had not followed his instructions and admitted that my bicep had completely torn away from the staples he had put in and, unfortunately, he could do no more, and hesent me away with a slapped wrist and a large invoice.

Anyway, the show goes on and we still enjoy every minute of it. As a wise man once said: “If you love the job you do, then you are not actually working”; and how true that is – we still love ‘the job’ and look forward to meeting our loyal fans and readers of The Beat.

Cheers, Barry