Gary James' Interview With Herb Fame Of
Peaches And Herb
Peaches And Herb enjoyed a string of hits in the late 1970s beginning with "Shake Your Groove Thing" which went Gold and went to number five on the Billboard charts. The follow-up song did even better. It went all the way to number one on the Billboard charts and was nominated for a Grammy for Song Of The Year in 1980. That song was "Reunited". And the hits kept coming! Next up was "I Pledge My Love". What's the story behind Peaches and Herb? We spoke with Herb Fame, the Herb of Peaches And Herb, about the duo's success.
Q - Herb, you have the perfect name for a singer, Herb Fame. I take it that when you were starting out that's what you were looking for; fame.
A - That's correct. Absolutely. (laughs) As a kid, when you find you can do something and you work with it and work with it and work with it, you think about the fame. You don't think about the money. That's what I was looking for when I was a young, young man.
Q - If you are famous, doesn't it necessarily mean that money will follow?
A - Not necessarily so. There are a lot of famous people who don't have a dime.
Q - That's true. Most likely they were taken advantage of by business people.
A - Yeah, well the thing about getting into this business in the beginning when you're young, you're not thinking about business. You're only thinking about what you want to do. People that know that sometimes take advantage. Not everyone, but the majority of people that's in this business, when you come in young, all the paperwork is to their advantage.
Q - I would hope that's changing.
A - Well, a lot of them coming up are listening to, I guess people like me or other artists that explain to them that the first thing you have to think about is business. Then when you think about business you get a lawyer that's in your corner, it has to be an entertainment lawyer who understands the entertainment business.
Q - If you're not in a city like Los Angeles or New York or Las Vegas or Nashville, finding that entertainment lawyer may be difficult.
A - Well, life is difficult. The point is you have to be aware of what you're doing and how you're doing it. That's most important. Again, they will take advantage of you.
Q - You were actually kicking around a long time before the public really heard about you. You gave up the music business at one point and became a police officer. Why a police officer?
A - (laughs) I'm from Washington, D.C. I was riding down the street one day and I was contemplating giving up this business. I was tired of the running from hotel to hotel. I saw a sign saying Recruiting D.C. Policemen, so I went in and took the exam. Fortunately I passed it. So I decided to just be a cop.
Q - Were you on road patrol?
A - I don't know if you could call it road patrol, but I was in the patrol division which gave tickets and fought crime out there, locked up people and tried to keep the peace.
Q - You then decided to get back into the music business in 1976. What happened? What was behind that decision?
A - I decided to come back into the business in 1978. When I quit music I stopped listening to music. I just listened to sports. I started listening to music again. It just hit me, go back! So I made arrangements to come back in the business. Thank God it worked again for me.
Q - Right. What music were you listening to that convinced you to give music another try?
A - On the radio, R&B, Pop. Anything that was out there. At the time my favorite artists were like everybody else, The Temps (Temptations) The Manhattans, stuff like that. I just decided to come back.
Q - 1978 was a good year for music.
A - Yeah. As far as I'm concerned my friend, any year is a good year for music. Music soothes a lot of people. Music makes you happy. Music keeps a lot of people from doing dangerous things. Music is life. Most people enjoy music. Most people.
Q - That's why I can't understand how you gave up music for a steady diet of sports.
A - (laughs)
Q - There's nothing wrong with sports.
A - Yeah, but I love sports too. I love football and watching the Redskins. I love baseball, my Nationals and I love the Wizards, who are the basketball team and the Capitols, who are the hockey team. My wife will tell you if there's a ball, I will watch it. I love sports.
Q - Then your (record) producer, Freddie Perron, who found you "Shake Your Groove Thing", he thought of you when he discovered that song?
A - I'm not too sure about that. If he said that, then that's what he meant, but we were doing another album with the guy who discovered Peaches And Herb, Van McCoy. It didn't work out. So we were in New York and we ran into Freddie, who was just starting his label which was MVP which was a subsidiary of Polydor. We decided to take a shot with Freddie. We were the first artists on his new label and the first thing out of it was "Shake Your Groove Thing".
Q - That was a bit hit for you.
A - Yes.
Q - Who came up with the name Peaches for your singing partner?
A - Well, my original partner, that was her nickname
Q - You're talking about Linda Greene, right?
A - No. That's not my original partner. My original partner in 1965 with I got started was Francine Barker. She was on my first records, "Let's Fall In Love", "For Your Love", "Close Your Eyes", Two Little Kids" and "Love Is Strange". That's Francine.
Q - And who was on "Shake Your Groove Thing"?
A - Linda Greene.
Q - Linda Greene was the second Peaches?
A - That's correct.
Q - She enjoyed, along with you, the success of your hit records and then what happened to her?
A - She is in California. Her and her husband go around and do shows for under-privileged people and try to stray them off of drugs. That's what she does now.
Q - Why did she leave? Did she get tired of touring and recording?
A - Well, all I can tell you my friend is, I can't speak for her 'cause I don't know what was on her mind. You would have to ask her. But the group eventually went their separate ways. I went my way and she went her way. But we still talk from time to time and we're still friends. You never know what makes a person do whatever they do. She may have been tired. She may have been just sick of music. I don't know. You would really have to ask her.
Q - Years ago I interviewed Mike Uzzett of Nantucket. He told me Peaches auditioned for Nantucket. Do you know anything about that? Did she ever mention that to you?
A - I have no idea. I have no idea what she had done before I met her. The only thing I can speak on is what transpired when I was working with her. Whomever I work with, I never get personal. I never get in their lives. I never have and I never will. I'm not that kind of person. I deal with you and me, one on one. I don't deal with what you did before me. It really doesn't matter.
Q - So, you've had different Peaches with you over the years. Does anyone ever ask if that's the original Peaches or the Peaches on the record? Does that ever come up?
A - Yeah, it comes up all the time. How many have you worked with and all that stuff. My thoughts have always been as working with anyone, when you get tired of working, I'll see you later. I don't try to hold anyone because I don't want anyone on stage with me that's unhappy, because you can see that.
Q - Do you own the name Peaches And Herb? You have that trademarked?
A - I own the name exclusively, so no one can use that name but me.
Q - Are you still performing today?
A - We still perform. If you on the website www.peachesandherb.com you'll see all the places we work.
Q - You must be one of these guys that really enjoys singing and performing. Correct?
A - That's correct. I love going out there. I love hearing the audience. I love performing for the audience. I also love having the audience perform before me.
Q - What do you mean?
A - We include the audience in our show.
Q - What do you mean, sing-a-longs?
A - Yeah. Sing-a-longs. I bring 'em up on stage and we do certain things with 'em. I don't believe people should just have to sit there and watch you all the time. Include them. Make them part of the show.
Q - They must like to sing along with you!
A - (laughs) I hope so anyway. We have fun with 'em. I also have to let you know that I recorded a CD. It's songs that women made famous. I'm dedicating it to women like Gladys Knight, Roberta Flack. I did songs that they had originally recorded. It should be out this Summer (2016) under the name, of course, Herb Fame. The title of the CD is "From Her Through Me", meaning that I'm singing songs that women made famous. Normally you find women singing songs guys made famous. I'm reversing that. I'm doing songs that women made famous.