Harvey Brian Lisberg – star maker & impresario
NEW MEMOIR by Harvey Lisberg with Charlie Thomas:
I’m Into Something Good: My Life Managing 10cc, Herman’s Hermits & many more!
When 22-year-old accountant Harvey Lisberg heard the Beatles’ ‘Please Please Me’, he had an epiphany: he could be Manchester’s answer to Brian Epstein. He had a musical ear, a knack for numbers and a gambler’s instinct for taking a punt. Within a year he had taken local group, Herman’s Hermits, to number one with ‘I’m Into Something Good’. Soon, Hermania was a global phenomenon. Harvey had found his vocation.
In this uproarious, frank and moving autobiography, he reveals the excesses of life on the road with Herman’s Hermits; the frustration of championing unknowns Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber; the highs and lows of managing the brilliant 10cc; the utter madness of looking after snooker bad boys Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins and Jimmy ‘Whirlwind’ White and much, much more.
Many other artists benefitted from Harvey’s guidance during this time, including Tony Christie, Barclay James Harvest, Sad Café and the Chameleons.
I’m Into Something Good is his account of a life that started in Salford and ended up in Palm Springs; a life in which he travelled the world, met heroes and villains, fulfilled his dreams, spent a fortune on good living, family and friends, and never took himself or his achievements too seriously.
‘Harvey came along and turned us into stars. He believed in us when no one else cared.’ Peter Noone, Herman’s Hermits
‘Harvey was one of the very first to recognise potential in Andrew and myself. He spotted ‘Joseph’ as a winner way before it became one.’ Sir Tim Rice
‘He virtually invented modern management. In terms of the UK’s music history, there really is no one like Harvey.’ Tony Wilson
‘A really good read.’ Lol Creme
Publication Date: 30.03.23
Extent: 304 pages
***Please note, if out of stock at our warehouse, this title can be purchased at all good high street and online booksellers***
MY GENERATION DOCUMENTARY: HERMANS HERMITS
GODS OF SNOOKER Part 3 on 23 MAY 2021 featured a piece on my foray into snooker in the early 1980’s when I signed superstars Jimmy (Whirlwind) White and Alex (Hurricane) Higgins – see below.
‘Herman and the Hermits’ transition into ‘Herman’s Hermits’:
Between ’63 – ’64 I managed ‘Herman and the Hermits’ comprising Peter Noone, Keith Hopwood, Karl Green, Alan Wrigley and Steve Titterington for whom I had already arranged sessions in London with Mickie Most but which hadn’t really worked out and they split.
In March ’64, I approached Derek Leckenby and Barry Whitwam from another local Manchester band called the Wailers, who, on showing them our busy diary, agreed to join forces with Peter Noone, Keith Hopwood and Karl Green to form ‘Herman’s Hermits’.
I paid for an airplane ticket for Mickie Most to come up again to re-appraise the new line-up at The Beachcomber in Bolton, and he left me with a demo of ‘I’m Into Something Good’ for the band to learn and record at his studio in London on the following Sunday.
So Herman’s Hermits recorded ‘I’m Into Something Good‘ (Goffin, King) as their debut single on 26 July 1964. It reached No.1 in the U.K. on 30 September 1964 and stayed there for two weeks. The song peaked at No.13 in the US later that year and No.7 in Canada.
Around the beginning of 1965 I brought my act Herman’s Hermits to the table and took a 50% stake in the Manchester, U.K. promoter Kennedy Street Enterprises who had booked The Beatles first tour.
This paid dividends when between April and May 1965, a hat-trick of Manchester-based acts, all signed for management to our Kennedy Street agency, enjoyed an unprecedented (and not since repeated) consecutive 6 week spell at No. 1 on the US Hot 100.
Freddie and the Dreamers spent two weeks at the top with their manic song “I’m Telling You Now” (10–24 April):
Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders one week with “Game of Love” (24 April-1 May) – introduced by my old pal Brian Epstein (manager of The Beatles) and feat. Eric Stewart (later of 10cc) on lead guitar:
. . . and Herman’s Hermits another three weeks with “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” (1–22 May) a feat not since repeated:
On the back of my success with Herman’s Hermits circa. mid 1964, I suddenly had access to various chart-topping bands and was able to elevate and promote my newly-signed in-house song writer, Graham Gouldman, who started writing hit after hit for The Yardbirds, The Hollies, Herman’s Hermits, Jeff Beck, Cher and many other big acts.
“A combination of things happened. I met Harvey [Lisberg, who managed Herman’s Hermits during their heyday]. We just hit a lucky… I say lucky… You’ve got to have a gift. That’s one thing. The fact that Harvey was so pushy and came out with such outrageous ideas at times… some of them worked and that’s his genius. I’d met Harvey a few months’ before. I was working in an outfitters’ shop and got the sack. My parents were freaking out. Harvey was the only person who said, ‘This is great. I’ll pay you a retainer to write songs’ and within six months I had a record with the Yardbirds. Gouldman is referring to “For Your Love” which he wrote while still a teenager. Harvey wanted The Beatles to record ‘For Your Love’. I said: ‘The Beatles don’t record other peoples’ songs.’ He said, ‘Yes they do.. And I said, ‘Yeah but those are established songs [like “Twist And Shout” and “Long Tall Sally”].’ They were doing those in their act for years. Fact was, the Yardbirds were doing a Christmas show with the Beatles, supporting them at Hammersmith Odeon at the end of ’64. And Harvey sent the song to the publisher. He knew the Yardbirds were looking for material and he played them ‘For Your Love’ and that was it.”
Eric Clapton played lead guitar on For Your Love only during the song’s middle break section and at that point quit the band because the pop tune was not aligned with his blues purist pursuit.
The Yardbirds introduced not one, not two, but three of Rock’s most skilled guitarists: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page all in the top 5 of Rolling Stone magazine’s list of 100 greatest guitarists.
Graham Gouldman‘s contribution as their hit songwriter broke the band on the world stage with not one, not two but three top 5 smash hits namely For Your Love, Heart Full Of Soul and Evil Hearted You.
Towards the end of their short career, The Yardbirds fired Jeff Beck and began experimenting with another Graham Gouldman penned song called You Stole My Love. Here’s their instrumental demo:
ORIGINALS, COVERS, MASH-UPS AND SYNCS OF INTEREST . . .
Listen People: Steve Marcus
In the mid-1960’s Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd-Webber came to see me at my Manchester office to help them place a song of theirs with Herman’s Hermits called ‘I fancy You’ (later retitled ‘Any Dream Will Do‘) with its simple couplet “I fancy you; I think you’re lovely”.
On hearing this and the other recordings for their musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat I signed them for three years to a development deal on a retainer of about £5/week each.
No one else got it and just after our deal ended at the end of the 1960’s they had overnight success with Jesus Christ Superstar.
Peter Noone featuring David Bowie – Oh! You Pretty Things
The single was written by David Bowie who featured on piano on the record and on Top Of The Pops he was prettily fitted out in a dress and a hat with flowers and it got to No. 12 in the U.K. in June 1971.
In December 1971, some six months later, Bowie released his own version for his Hunky Dory album but the endorsement of a major star (Peter Noone) and the approval of a big record company executive (Mickie Most) had been a turning point in Bowie’s career who previously had been struggling for years to go mainstream.
I first met Neil Sedaka in 1970 on a visit to Don Kirshner‘s office in New York in a quest to find the next single for Tony Christie. One of the songs he played me was Amarillo and I took it. In November 1971, Amarillo became a huge hit all across Europe but, incredibly, rose no higher than no. 18 in the UK. The post-millennium reissue mimed by Peter Kay was the best selling U.K. single of 2005 selling more than 1,000,000 copies and still the song resonates to this day:
In 1973, Elton John founded The Rocket Record Company named not after Neanderthal Man, but his signature hit Rocket Man. In 1974 he signed Neil Sedaka and released his comeback album Sedaka’s Back to a receptive U.S. audience with original recordings from Solitaire (1972) and The Tra-La Days Are Over (1973) both engineered and recorded by Eric Stewart at Strawberry Studios with the nascent 10cc as session musicians on tracks like That’s When The Music Takes Me . . . and Love Will Keep Us Together . . .
. . . whose subverted title, inspired Joy Division‘s iconic hit Love Will Tear Us Apart, recorded at Strawberry Studios in 1980. This mash-up using Captain & Tennille‘s cover version of Love Will Keep Us Together (U.S. #1 in 1975), demonstrates why some people think the inspiration wasn’t just limited to the title, but maybe the whole song?
GG / 06 . . . Son of Man (about the evolution of Hotlegs into 10cc)
- Q: Eric?
- A: Yeah!
- Q: How did you actually form the band?
- A: Well . . .
- . . . the B-side we were knocking off [Oh! Darling] turned into something good [Donna – the proposed B-side to Waterfall]. Donna was 10cc’s first single reaching No, 2 in the U.K. in 1972.
Their follow-up Rubber Bullets had opening lyrics inspired by Elvis Presley‘s ‘Jailhouse Rock‘ which had just been re-released in the U.K. reaching No. 6 in Dec 1971. The BBC thought Rubber Bullets was inflammatory with The Troubles in Northern Ireland and limited airplay but in spite of that the song still hit No.1 on the U.K. charts:
A couple of years later the opportunity arose to manage them when they found themselves rudderless without a manager. So I put together a fantastic proposal with my old friend Peter Grant who by then managed Led Zeppelin – you can read all about it in my book, I’m Into Something Good: My Life Managing 10cc, Herman’s Hermits & many more!
The Things We Do For Love was the only 10cc song that reached a higher chart position in the U.S. than the U.K. It was released in 1977 two years after Godley and Creme left the band.
Godley and Creme . . . Cry (1985) was an international hit with faces morphing into each other using simple soft-edged wipe transitions.
This visual effect was later refined using digital coding in Michael Jackson’s Black or White (1991) by ‘Thriller‘ director, John Landis, an old school friend of the late Andrew Gold, co-founder with Graham Gouldman of Wax, who I managed from 1983 to 1990’s.
The Worst Band In The World (1973). 10CC was christened by U.K. Records owner Jonathan King who in a dream saw “10cc – The Best Band In The World” on the hoarding of the Hammersmith Odeon. That was the cue to subvert it to “The Worst Band In The World” . . .
10CC . . . Old Wild Men (1973) was released about 50 years ago and was a prophetic look at what they might (and perhaps have) become!
Kelsey Lu – I’m Not In Love | Euphoria [sub-titled (legendado)] – 2019
10CC . . . Art For Art Sake (live).