“Anytime you can do what you love to do and not what you have to do, you’ll have joy in your life,” says Herb Fame, explaining how he’s lasted over 50 years in the music business.
Fame, (real name Feemster) is one-half of the duo known as Peaches and Herb. The twosome will be joining other soulful stars of the ‘60s in Jerry Blavat’s “Disco, Rock ‘n Roll, and Soul,” Saturday, Jan. 25 in Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center.
Fame started singing in church when he was just about seven, and later joined neighborhood groups to continue to show off his talent. After high school he went to work at a record store where record producer Van McCoy showed up one day.
“Van gave me my first big break,” Fame recalls. “I started singing for him, he liked what he heard, and said he’d come back with his manager the following week. Artists who used to make records would come around to check on their record sales so I thought this was a good place for me to be.”
And he was right. McCoy did return, and in 1965 decided to team Fame with another artist he knew, Francine Barker, the original Peaches. The new team became known as Peaches and Herb, and recorded their first records, including “Let’s Fall In Love,” “For Your Love,” “Close Your Eyes,” and more.
Over the years, Fame explained, Barker left and more “Peaches” followed. “But I don’t get into that,” he says. “When one Peaches wants to leave or one goes, they go. I just find myself another partner. I don’t count how many there have been.”
Professionally, Fame says there are so many good things in his life that have accumulated over the years for Peaches and Herb, “and I feel blessed for all there’s been. There are thousands and thousands of people who would love to be in this business but haven’t managed to accomplish it, so I’m grateful that it has happened to this act.
“And we hope audiences keep coming back to see and hear us,” Fame continues, “because we can sing, and we can perform, and we can talk and sing about love. And love is the universal language. You have to love just to get things accomplished.”
And yet Fame left his love for the business behind briefly to join the Washington, D.C. police force.
He says, “I was riding down the street one day when I was thinking about leaving the business. I was getting tired of running from hotel to hotel and all the hype. The business is very strange and you never know who you’re going to meet And I happened to see a sign wanting to recruit policeman. So I took the test, passed it and became a cop.”
But a few years later Fame missed the music and decided to go back into the business. And now he and his current “Peaches” continue to please audiences everywhere.
“I still love watching people react to what we do. And in Philly we’ll be doing two of our biggest hits, ‘Reunited’ and ‘Shake Your Groove Thing.’ Then, depending on how much time we have, we’ll add as many of our songs as we can.”
With so many great singers out there with so few making it, has it all been luck?
“Maybe so, but my word is blessed. Believe in yourself and ignore the people who say you can’t make it. Don’t let anyone discourage you,” the hitmaker says.
Last year, Fame put out a CD on his own and dedicated it to his wife. It’s titled “From Her Through Me.”
And who knows? He says, ”Even at the age of 79, there may be a lot more for me to do.”