Don Meets: Herman's Hermits and The Hollies

In 1966 the Concert business was still quite primitive, facilities often had poor sound systems, security was light and the performers mostly had to fend for themselves. Fresh out of the Air Force in 1966 I was at KELP in El Paso, TX, a highly rated Top 40 Rocker, where I would carry-on and play rock and roll in the nighttime. The station "partnered" with a Production Company to present a concert with a group of English Invasion bands, including Herman's Hermits and the Hollies. Part of the deal was that we'd promote the show on the air, and the disc jockeys would emcee the show in the Arena where the Rodeo was held, acoustics were also not a priority, nor the feint odor of manure.

To give you an idea how much things have changed, The Program Director, Charlie Russell, called me in and said, "Donnie, I want you and Danny (Michael Mckenzie, my radio partner as the Dare Brothers), to pick up the Hollies at the Holiday Inn." So at the appointed time we show up knocking on the door at the hotel, and finally it's answered by Graham Nash, wearing only little, black bikini brief. Apparently it was an English thing we were still in tidy whiteys and boxers. Graham muttered something like, "What do you want?" and I announced, "Hi, we're the Dare Brothers to pick you up, the show's in two hours." Alan Clark, a cofounder of the group, popped his head up from under a pillow and grumpily said, 'Where the hell are we, and who are the hell are these guys?'

They got dressed impressively quickly, pulling on the jeans from the night before and sniffing shirts to find one appropriate in public. I don't remember much about the ride, except that at some point one of them said, 'Where's Mexico?' I pointed out the window and said, 'About two miles down there,' the only reply was, 'Really?' Obviously, this darn America was full of surprises.

We pulled up behind the building and walked inside, there was no security, when Charlie came over and said, "You're doing the opening with Herman and the Hermits, they are in that room over there." So we desert the Hollies, walk over to the dressing room and stroll in, and there's Peter Noone. He was in his early twenties, I don't think he was shaving yet, and was like a big, friendly puppy dog, greeting us with a happy face and saying how much fun he was having. We had a photographer following us and I asked if he would mind having a Photo Op?

Would he? Peter picked up a hat from a chair, plopped it on his head, threw his arms around us and began mugging. We had a great time, and then someone came in and said, "Donnie, it's time." I had seldom appeared before thousands of people before, and suddenly got some butterflies in my tummy, but I grabbed McKenzie's arm and said, "Come on."

The Arena was jet black when we walked onstage, and when the spotlight suddenly hit us it was blinding. I was surprised that there was some polite applause, but it was probably the audience showing relief that the show was finally starting. I stepped up to the microphone, introduced us and said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, We're into something good, Let's give a big welcome to Herman and the Hermits." as we ran off to the side of the stage, Peter Noone coming towards me socked me on the arm and grinned.

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