WHEN you have had a career spanning 54 years, you are bound to have a few stories to tell.

Barry Witwam, drummer with Herman’s Hermits, has hundreds of them picked up over the course of close to 10,000 live shows.

Next month Barry and the band will be part of the Sensational Sixties Experience which returns to Manchester Opera House.

The band have recently returned from a tour of Australia.

“We did 28 shows in 34 days and I had a drum solo to do every night,” he said. “I was knackered by the time we got back to the UK but we just love it. It’s when you meet the fans after the shows and they tell you the impact that your music has had on them.

“When we toured in America we would get guys coming up who said they were in Vietnam and that our records would be the last thing they heard before they went into battle. That’s an amazing thing to hear.”

Alongside the Beatles and the Stones, Herman’s Hermits were at the forefront of the so-called British invasion of America in the Sixties.

“It’s funny but you get all these programmes now about British bands in America but they hardly ever mention us. I think it’s because we weren’t heavy enough. It’s almost as though the British are ashamed of us. They are full of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks and the Who but they hardly ever mention Herman’s Hermits.”

Ironically it was Herman’s Hermits who introduced America to The Who, asking them to support them on tour. For Barry, it proved to be a painful experience.

“If you’ve seen the film Spinal Tap, I’m the original exploding drummer,” he laughed. “They used to blow up Keith Moon’s drumkit at the end of The Who’s set. We were in Hawaii on the last night of the tour and they had all this gunpowder left over.

“I didn’t know it but their tour manager put the gunpowder under my drum stool and at the end of our set he set it off and blew me up.

“The heat was incredible. It melted the shirt off my back and singed all my hair. When the smoke cleared I was covered in soot.”

It was on that tour that Barry celebrated his 21st birthday with the Who’s mercurial drummer.

“We were at the Holiday Inn in Flint, Michigan,” he said. “There were 200 cakes at the hotel from fans.”

Needless to say this proved a recipe for disaster and led to a massive food fight.

“We were covered in cream, there were bits of cake everywhere,” he said. “Then Peter Noone (Herman’s Hermits’ lead singer) and I decided to have a fire extinguisher fight in the car park.

“We didn’t realise that the chemicals stripped paint off parked cars. Twenty-five cars needed repainting after that.”

As they checked out of the hotel the band’s manager had to pay $25,000 to cover all the damage and Herman’s Hermits were banned from every Holiday Inn.

“As fas as I know I’m still banned,” said Barry, “but I have stayed there since.”

Also in Hawaii, Barry got the chance to spend a couple of hours with Elvis Presley who was filming the movie, Paradise Hawaiian Style.

“He was a lovely fella,” said Barry. “He had such charisma. When he came towards you, you could see an aura around him.”

For the last 10 years, Herman’s Hermits have been part of the Sensational Sixties Experience which this year includes The Swinging Blues Jeans, the New Amen Corner, Mike Pender of The Searchers and Chris Farlowe.

“That feeling you get on stage, that adrenaline rush, you get addicted to it,” said Barry. “That’s what keep us going.”

The Sensational Sixties Experience, Manchester Opera House, Saturday, November 10. Details from 0844 8713018 or www.atgtickets.com/manchester