The Hollies

  • British rock band formed in 1962 from Manchester England. There have been many members over the years. The group during the 60s consisted of Allan Clarke (vocals, harmonica, guitar, songwriting), Graham Nash (vocals, rhythm guitar, songwriting – replaced in 1969 by Terry Sylvester), Tony Hicks (lead guitar, backing vocals, keyboards, sitar, banjo, mandolin, songwriting),  Eric Haydock (bass guitar – replaced in 1966 by Bernie Calvert, who also played keyboards), and Bobby Elliott (drums).
  • The group started as the duo of Clarke and Nash. They were great friends in grade school, and they started performing together in the late 50s, playing folk and jazz music. They modeled themselves as a British version of the Everly Brothers, going by the name Ricky and Dane Young. As Ricky and Dane, they joined a band called The Fourtones. By 1962, they quit this group, and joined another Manchester band, called The Deltas. This band included Haydock and other musicians on guitar and drums. In December that year, just before a gig, they renamed themselves The Hollies, in honor of Buddy Holly, as well as the Christmas season.
  • In early 1963, a record producer saw them perform at a club, and he arranged for an audition with a record label. The guitarist left before the audition, and he was replaced by Hicks, who had been playing in a band with Elliott and Calvert. The record company liked them, and signed them to a contract. Their first single was a cover of The Coasters’ (Ain’t That) Just Like Me, released in May 1963. It was a modest success in the UK, reaching #25 on the UK charts. Two more cover songs were released that year, each charting even higher on the UK charts. During this time, Elliott joined the group.
  • Given their growing success, a debut album, Stay With The Hollies, was released in early 1964. It reached #2 in the UK album charts, and the doo-wop song Stay reached #8 on the UK Singles chart. In the U.S., a different debut album was released, called Here I Go Again. The U.S. album had many of the same songs (mostly covers of R&B hits by other artists), but it also included Just One Look and the title track, Here I Go Again. These were the first singles to chart (barely) in the U.S.
  • They continued to released songs that were popular in the UK – 9 singles were in the top 10 from 1964 to 1966, with I’m Alive topping the UK chart. Finally, in 1965, they broke into the US top 40 with Look Through Any Window, and in 1966, they scored their first top 10 hits with Bus Stop at #5 and Stop Stop Stop at #7, with new bass guitarist Calvert now with the band. Stop Stop Stop was their first hit written by Clarke, Nash and Hicks. In 1967, another 2 songs written by the trio charted well in the U.S. – On A Carousel and Carrie Anne. 
  • By 1967, tensions were growing between Nash and the rest of the band. Nash wrote Marrakesh Express, which was rejected by the band, and then the band decided to record an album of Bob Dylan cover songs, while Nash disapproved. In August 1968, Nash left, moving to Los Angeles to concentrate on writing. Of course, he met David Crosby and Steven Stills, and the supergroup Crosby, Stills and Nash was created (their first single was Marrakesh Express, their first of many hits). Terry Sylvester was recruited to replace Nash.
  • The Hollies continued to produce hits after Nash’s departure. Their second single with Sylvester performing was He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother – it reached #7 in the U.S. and #3 in the UK. As they entered the 70s, they had 2 more major hits. Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress reached #2 in the U.S. (their highest charting single) and The Air That I Breathe reached #6 in 1974.
  • In total, the Hollies released 23 studio albums, 7 EPs, and 67 singles. Their 3 part harmony became a signature sound, and ultimately it got them into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, where they were inducted in 2010. They continue to perform today – Clarke retired in 2000, and Hicks and Elliott continue to perform with the band today – they already have 14 concerts scheduled for 2019, 57 years after the band was formed!
  • The Hollies is one of the last groups of the 60s British Invasion, and along with the Rolling Stones, they are the last to still perform. Songs like He Ain’t Heavy, The Air That I Breathe, and Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress were big sing-a-longs for me growing up. Here’s a clip of the band performing The Air That I Breathe in the 70s – enjoy the harmonies and the long hair!

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