Dave Berry is back on the road with Herman’s Hermits 50 years after he toured with them for the first time.
And the irony of the association still amuses him.
“I was asked to be a stabilising influence on the younger lads,” Dave recalls. “But I had just been in Hamburg for two months, and I had just toured with the Rolling Stones! I was hardly the person to be a stabilising influence!” he laughs.
But there’s no doubting the stability of his career, still going strong after all these years and still enjoying the great friendships he forged in the 1960s.
On the bill for the current tour are also The Swinging Blue Jeans, The Union Gapuk, The Ivy League and Alan Mosca from Freddie and The Dreamers, with dates including Brighton Theatre Royal on Tuesday, November 18 (tickets 0844 8717650).
Dave, whose hits included The Crying Game, Memphis Tennessee, Mama, Little Things and My Baby Left Me, remembers: “I actually toured with the Stones three times, twice in ’64 and once in ’65. We were both on Decca, and though my recording career was very pop, my roots were in r’n’b.
“I was fortunate... though I don’t like to use the word fortunate, because you have to work hard in this business to stay afloat. But I was fortunate that Decca were very, very good to me. I recorded more than 100 tracks with Decca (over seven years).
“Most of my contemporaries were on three-year contracts,” Dave explains. The point was that there were plenty of people who hoped that the bands would simply go away and that the world would go back to the likes of band leader Ted Heath.
“So most people just had three years of hits, and that was that. Things would move on. But I went to do a big show in Amsterdam along with the Supremes and the Ronettes, and I had great success in Europe. I had five records in the Dutch and Belgian charts in ’65-66, and so Decca wanted to re-sign me.
“Really that decade was the best time ever. It was all so new. We were all touring together. The management of the artists were all new, all young guys. You had Andrew Loog Oldham with the Stones and Brian Epstein with the Beatles, and I think we realised at that time that it was a very special time.
“But we were not accepted by everybody. I wasn’t joking when I said that most of the old school hoped that we would all just go away. The old-style managers and agents didn’t really see a future for pop music for me and my contemporaries. We weren’t very welcome at hotels or travelling around. Most of the hotels back then were used by business people. They didn’t want us. We used to have to book under different names, and then they wouldn’t be very pleased when they discovered that we were a band!”
Things were certainly different back then, with not much chance of a drink on a Sunday: “The licensing laws were a joke!”
So it wasn’t all bliss. But on the music side, they were having a ball.
“I always managed to keep my feet on the ground, though. I don’t know why. I suppose it was in my character. All the band were from where I lived. We were all a unit, from Sheffield pretty much like the Arctic Monkeys are now. Maybe that kept us rooted.”
Plus there was the camaraderie between the bands. Loog Oldham managed the Stones and also looked after Dave’s publicity. There was a natural link between him and the Stones.
“We would be at parties, and there would be Brian Jones on the piano, or sometimes we would all be jamming upstairs in a hotel room.”
Dave remembers Brian Jones as a very quiet person: “I used to get on all right with him, but you always felt from the beginning that he was not destined to belong to the Stones for very long.
“He had put the band together, but you always felt that he was the outsider.”