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The Hollies are an Englishmarker rock group from Manchestermarker formed in the early 1960s. Known for their distinctive vocal harmony style (which influenced many other groups) they became one of the leading British groups of the era, and they enjoyed considerable popularity in many other countries although they did not achieve major US chart success until 1966. Like the Rolling Stones and Steeleye Span, they are also notable as one of the few British pop groups of the 1960s that has never officially broken up and which continues to record and perform to the present.

History

Formation

Member Graham Nash told Public Radio International (Bob Edwards show; 15 February 2009) that the group decided just prior to a performance to call themselves the Hollies because of their admiration for Buddy Holly. The original lineup included Allan Clarke as lead vocalist, Graham Nash as guitarist and vocalist, Vic Steele (real name Vic Farrell) on guitar, with Eric Haydock and Don Rathbone rounding out the group on bass guitar and drums. Steele left in May 1963 shortly before they signed to Parlophone in 1963 as label-mates of the Beatles. The group released their first album in the United States in 1964 as part of the first wave of British Invasion releases. They are commonly associated with Manchester, as some of the original Hollies grew up in the city. Tony Hicks then Bobby Elliott who both played in a Nelsonmarker-based band, the Dolphins, joined the band in quick succession in 1963. Bernie Calvert who replaced Haydock in 1966 was also a Dolphin member.

1960s

The Hollies had a squeaky-clean image, and were known for their bright vocal harmonies. Their EMI debut single "Ain't That Just Like Me," released 1 May 1963, hit #25 on the UK Singles Chart. Their second single, a cover of The Coasters' "Searchin," hit #12.

They scored their first British Top 10 hit in early 1964 with a cover of Maurice Williams and The Zodiac' "Stay", which reached #8 in the UK. It was lifted from the band's Parlophone debut album "Stay With The Hollies", released on 1 January 1964, which went to #2 on the UK album chart. A version of the album was released in the US as Here I Go Again, on The Hollies' then-U.S. label Imperial. They followed up with a cover of Doris Troy's "Just One Look." During the mid-1960s the cover versions were supplanted first by written-to-order songs provided to them by such writers as Graham Gouldman and then by songs written by the group's in-house songwriting trio of Clarke, Hicks and Nash, who soon began providing the hits.

By one measure, The Hollies were the third most successful British 'singles' group of the 1960s, scoring twenty UK Top 40 placings between 1963 and 1969. This would place The Hollies behind only The Shadows (24 UK hits from 1960, not counting their appearances backing Cliff Richard), and The Beatles (21 UK hits, 1962-1969, counting double A-sides as one hit).

However, despite their numerous chart placings, The Hollies scored only one #1 UK hit in the 1960s ("I'm Alive" (1965)), placing them well behind consistently chart-topping acts such as The Beatles (17 number-ones) and The Shadows (5 number ones) in terms of successful British chart groups. Other "British Invasion" acts such as The Rolling Stones (15 chart entries, 8 number-ones), The Kinks (18 chart entries, 3 number-ones) and Manfred Mann (17 chart entries, 3 number-ones) also lead The Hollies in terms of #1 hits. The Hollies had considerable chart success in Europe and also scored numerous hits in Australia through the sixties and into the early 1970s, but they were only moderately successful in North America.

Nonetheless, by most commercial measures The Hollies were one of the top dozen or so UK bands of the 1960s and they scored a remarkable run of success in their home country: of the 29 singles they released between 1963 and 1974 only one failed to make the UK charts.. The Hollies were regularly referred to in the British music media as the "third group" after the Beatles and the Stones. When asked about this in a contemporary interview Allan Clarke commented "We realise, although we'll never admit it to ourselves that it's an impossible task to attain the sames status as the Beatles and the Stones did, but that doesn't stop us trying.".

The hits continued with "Here I Go Again" (May 1964, UK #4); the group's first self-penned hit "We're Through" (Sep. 1964, UK #7); "Yes I Will" (Jan. 1965, UK #9); the Clint Ballard, Jr.-penned "I'm Alive" (May 1965, UK#1, US #103); and "Look Through Any Window" [Sept. 1965, UK #4] which also broke The Hollies into the US top 40 for the first time [#32, Jan. 1966]. However "If I Needed Someone" (Dec. 1965), the George Harrison song originally recorded by the Beatles on Rubber Soul, charted significantly lower, only reaching #20 in the UK.

They returned to the UK Top 10 with "I Can't Let Go" (Feb. 1966, UK #2, US #42) and "Bus Stop" (UK #2, US #5, 1966) (written by future 10CC member Graham Gouldman). Their only non-charting single in this period was the Burt Bacharach-Hal David song "After The Fox" (Sep. 1966), the theme song from the Peter Sellers comedy film of the same name, which was issued on the United Artists label.

From this point until Nash's departure, the single A-sides were all Clarke-Hicks-Nash collaborations; "Stop Stop Stop" (Oct. 1966, UK #2, US #7), known for its distinctive banjo arrangement; "On a Carousel" (Feb. 1967; UK #4, 1967, US #11, Australia #14,), "Carrie Anne" (May 1967, UK #3, US #9, Australia #7) (the song from which actress Carrie-Anne Moss got her name, having been born when the song was on the charts). The last Hollies single of the '60s to feature Graham Nash was "Jennifer Eccles" (Mar. 1968, UK #7, US #40, Aust. #13).

The rhythm section included drummer Bobby Elliot and bass guitarist Eric Haydock. Bernie Calvert replaced Eric Haydock in 1966.


Some of their songs had folk rock elements (e.g., Would You Believe?), but psychedelic influences were clearly evident by the time of the albums Evolution and Butterfly. "King Midas in Reverse" (Sep. 1967, UK #18), another Clarke-Hicks-Nash song, was influenced by prevailing trends in psychedelia, and backed with a lavish orchestral arrangement by John Scott featuring strings, brass and flutes.

Like most British groups' during this period, The Hollies' US releases almost always featured different track listings from their original UK albums. The Hollies second album "In The Hollies Style" (1964) did not chart and none of its tracks were released in the US. The Hollies’s third album simply called Hollies hit number 8 in the UK in 1965. Their fourth Would You Believe made it to #16 in 1966. Released in the US as Hear Here and Beat Group, they failed to crack the top 100. Meanwhile a US Imperial Bus Stop album made of songs clipped from earlier albums climbed to #75, the group's first US album to enter the Top 100.

While all their albums included original compositions, these were usually listed under the pseudonym "L. Ransford". Released in October 1966, For Certain Because (UK #23, 1966) was the group's fifth album, their first album consisting entirely of original compositions by Clarke, Hicks and Nash. Released in the U.S. as Stop! Stop! Stop! it reached U.S. #91 and spawned a U.S. release only single "Pay You Back With Interest" which was a modest hit reaching U.S. #28. Another track "Tell Me To My Face" was a moderate hit by Mercury artist Keith and would also be covered a decade later by Dan Fogelberg and Tim Weisberg on their "Twin Sons Of Different Mothers" album.

Their next album Evolution was released on 1 June 1967, the same day as The Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was also their first album for their new U.S. label Epic. It reached UK #13 and U.S. #43. The U.S. version included the single "Carrie Anne". The Hollies' psychedelic sound experiments continued through their next album Butterfly, released in the U.S. as Dear Eloise/King Midas In Reverse but neither version charted. It would be the last album that featured Graham Nash until the 1980s. A Parlophone collection of some of the group's earliest singles was released as The Hollies Greatest and went to #1 on the UK charts in 1968. An Imperial Hollies Greatest Hits was a #11 hit in the U.S. a year earlier.

On Valentine's day 1968 the Hollies played a gig at the Whisky A Go Go in Los Angeles which attracted a lot of fellow musicians and would be instrumental in Graham Nash's leaving the group later that same year. Stephen Stills remembered, "Then David and I went to the Whiskey A Go-Go in Sunset Strip [Los Angeles] to see the Hollies doing a benefit showcase. We saw Graham Nash and we were thinking whether we should steal him. I thought he was fantastic, but Jesus, that band was so good, I thought they're never going to want to part with Nash."

Graham Nash's departure

When Nash left in 1968 due to creative differences, in particular over the plan to record a full album of Bob Dylan songs, he relocated to Los Angeles, where he joined forces with former Buffalo Springfield guitarist Stephen Stills and ex-Byrds singer David Crosby to form one of the first supergroups, Crosby, Stills & Nash. A newspaper reported on his departure, "His decision to split from the band [...] centers on the question of touring, and on artistic disagreements; specifically whether The Hollies were to record an album of Dylan songs." . Nash had told Disc magazine, "I can't take touring anymore. I just want to sit at home and write songs. I don't really care what the rest of the group think."

He was replaced by guitarist-singer Terry Sylvester, formerly of The Swinging Blue Jeans. This lineup had a hit in 1969 with "Sorry, Suzanne", which reached #3 in the UK. In time, too, Sylvester proved a capable substitution for Nash as part of the group's songwriting team.

Their next single after Nash's departure was the Tony Hazzard-penned "Listen To Me" (Sep. 1968, UK #11, which was backed by "Do The Best you Can", the last original Nash-Clarke-Hicks song to appear on a single. Their next album was Hollies Sing Dylan which soared to the #3 position on the UK chart while the U.S. version Words And Music By Bob Dylan was ignored. The next album Hollies Sing Hollies did not chart in the UK, but the U.S. version called He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother included the hit single by the same name and reached U.S. #32.

Nash's departure saw The Hollies again turn to outside writers for their single A-sides, but the group's British chart fortunes rallied during 1969 and 1970 and they scored four consecutive UK Top 20 hits (including two consecutive Top 5 placings) in this period, beginning with the Geoff Stephens / Tony Macaulay song "Sorry Suzanne" (Feb. 1969) which reached #3 in the UK, followed by the emotional civil rights–themed ballad "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother", which featured the piano playing of Elton John, and which reached #3 in October 1969.

1970s

Their next single, "I Can't Tell The Bottom From The Top", reached UK #7 in April 1970. The UK hits continued with "Gasoline Alley Bred" (Sep. 1970, UK #14, Australia #20) and the hard edged rocker "Hey Willy" (UK #22 1971).

Group member Allan Clarke left the group in 1971 for a solo career. With the end of their EMI/Parlophone contract they signed with Polydor and Swedish singer Mikael Rickfors sang lead on the single "The Baby" (UK #26, 1972). Meanwhile EMI lifted a track from their album Distant Light, which had Clarke on lead vocal and lead guitar, the Creedence Clearwater Revival-inspired song, "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress"; EMI released it as a rival single, and although it fared relatively poorly in the UK (#32) it reached #2 in the US and #1 in Australia. Clarke rejoined in 1973 and they returned to the UK Top 30 with another swamp rock-style song penned by Clarke, "The Day That Curly Billy Shot Down Crazy Sam McGee" (UK #24, 1973).

In 1974 they scored what was to be their last major hit with the love song "The Air That I Breathe" (previously recorded by Phil Everly on one of his solo albums) which reached #2 in the UK and Australia and made the Top 10 in the US. It was their last UK hit for over a decade and subsequent singles like "Son of a Rotten Gambler", "I'm Down", "Boulder to Birmingham" and "Sandy" failed to chart in the UK.

1980s–2000s and beyond

In 1980 the Hollies returned to the UK charts with the stirring single "Soldier's Song" which was a mild hit in 1980 reaching number 58 in the UK. They also released an album of Buddy Holly covers aptly named "Buddy Holly".In 1981 Calvert and Sylvester left. The Hollies released "Holliedaze", a medley edited together from their hit records, which returned them to the UK Top 30. Nash and Haydock briefly rejoined to promote the record on Top of the Pops. They continued to record and tour throughout the mid-1980s, last hitting the US Top 40 with a remake of The Supremes' "Stop in the Name of Love", which reached No. 29 in 1983, from the album What Goes Around. A live album featuring the Clarke-Hicks-Elliott-Nash re-grouping, Reunion, followed that same year.

After its use in a TV beer commercial (for Miller Lite lager) in the summer of 1988, "He Ain't Heavy" was reissued in the UK and reached No. 1, thus establishing a new record for the length of time between chart-topping singles for one artist of 23 years. By this time bassist Ray Stiles, formerly a member of 1970s chart-topping glam rock group Mud, had joined the permanent lineup. A re-issue early in 1989 of "The Air That I Breathe" only made No. 60. During the same year, the group wrote and recorded the title song to the ITV charity series Find a Family; the single (named "Find Me a Family") peaked at No. 79. In 1993 another new single, "The Woman I Love", written by Nik Kershaw, reached No. 42 in the UK.

The Hollies still tour with two original members, Hicks and Elliott. After Clarke's retirement in 1999, he was replaced by Carl Wayne, former lead singer of The Move. Wayne only recorded one song with them, "How Do I Survive?", the last (and only new) track on the 2003 Greatest Hits. After his death from cancer in August 2004, he was replaced by Peter Howarth. The Hollies' first new studio album since 1983, Staying Power was released in 2006.

The group released their new album Then, Now, Always, in late March 2009. The album featured 11 new tracks, featuring Peter Howarth on lead vocals on all but the title track, where Tony Hicks sang, and "Coming Home" which was sung by Steve Lauri. The Hollies embark on a new tour in spring and summer 2010, taking them to England, Norway and Germany. Coinciding with a possible inclusion in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2010, a new greatest hits 2-CD is sheduled.

The Hollies in the USA

The Hollies were one of the last of the major British Invasion groups to have significant chart success in the United States. Their first single was not issued in the US and it was not until "Look Through Any Window" that the band reached the Top 30. Many of their other singles that had been hits in the UK, including "I'm Alive", "Yes I Will" and "We're Through" were virtually ignored in the US. From 1965 until they signed to Epic in 1967, the band had their most concentrated success in the US. After the initial Epic single "Carrie-Anne" reached #9, the band records continued to sell poorly in the US, with the exception of "He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother", "Long Cool Woman" and "The Air That I Breathe".

On September 24, 2009, the Hollies were nominated for induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Famemarker.

Band members

1962–73

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1974–88

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1989-present

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Line-ups

! bgcolor="#E7EBEE" | 
1981(Appeared on Top of the Pops in 9/81 to promote "Holliedaze")


1962 - 1963


1963
  • Allan Clarke - lead vocals, guitar, harmonica
  • Graham Nash - guitar, vocals
  • Tony Hicks - guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, keyboards, vocals
  • Eric Haydock - bass
  • Don Rathbone - drums


1963 - 1966
  • Allan Clarke - lead vocals, guitar, harmonica
  • Graham Nash - guitar, vocals
  • Tony Hicks - guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, keyboards, vocals
  • Eric Haydock - bass
  • Bobby Elliott - drums


1966 - 1968
  • Allan Clarke - lead vocals, guitar, harmonica
  • Graham Nash - guitar, vocals
  • Tony Hicks - guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, keyboards, vocals
  • Bernie Calvert - bass, keyboards
  • Bobby Elliott - drums(Dougie Wright, Clem Cattini, then Tony Newman, subbed for Elliot in early 1967)


1968 - 1971
  • Allan Clarke - lead vocals, guitar, harmonica
  • Terry Sylvester - guitar, vocals
  • Tony Hicks - guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, keyboards, vocals
  • Bernie Calvert - bass, keyboards
  • Bobby Elliott - drums


1971 - 1973
  • Mikael Rickfors - lead vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, harmonica, percussion
  • Terry Sylvester - guitar, vocals
  • Tony Hicks - guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, keyboards, vocals
  • Bernie Calvert - bass, keyboards
  • Bobby Elliott - drums


1973 - 1974
  • Allan Clarke - lead vocals, guitar, harmonica
  • Terry Sylvester - guitar, vocals
  • Tony Hicks - guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, keyboards, vocals
  • Bernie Calvert - bass, keyboards
  • Bobby Elliott - drums


1974 - 1981
  • Allan Clarke - lead vocals, guitar, harmonica
  • Terry Sylvester - guitar, vocals
  • Tony Hicks - guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, keyboards, vocals
  • Bernie Calvert - bass, keyboards
  • Bobby Elliott - drums
  • Pete Wingfield - keyboards
  • Paul Bliss - keyboards(1978 German tour, in place of Wingfield)
  • Allan Clarke - lead vocals, guitar, harmonica
  • Graham Nash - guitar, vocals
  • Tony Hicks - guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, keyboards, vocals
  • Eric Haydock - bass
  • Bobby Elliott - drums


1981 - 1982
  • Allan Clarke - lead vocals, guitar, harmonica
  • Alan Coates - guitar, banjo, vocals
  • Tony Hicks - guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, keyboards, vocals
  • Alan Jones - bass
  • Bobby Elliott - drums
  • Brian Chatton - keyboards


1982(on record)
  • Allan Clarke - lead vocals, guitar, harmonica
  • Graham Nash - guitar, vocals
  • Tony Hicks - guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, keyboards, vocals
  • Alan Jones/ Steve Stroud - bass
  • Bobby Elliott - drums
  • Brian Chatton - keyboards
  • Paul Bliss - keyboards


1982(on tour)
  • Allan Clarke - lead vocals, guitar, harmonica
  • Alan Coates - guitar, banjo, vocals
  • Tony Hicks - guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, keyboards, vocals
  • Steve Stroud - bass
  • Bobby Elliott - drums
  • Peter Arnesen - keyboards


1983
  • Allan Clarke - lead vocals, guitar, harmonica
  • Alan Coates/Jamie Moses(subbed for Coates on 1983 Australian/New Zealand tour) - guitar, vocals
  • Tony Hicks - guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, keyboards, vocals
  • Steve Stroud - bass
  • Bobby Elliott - drums
  • Peter Arnesen - keyboards
  • Paul Bliss - keyboards


1983(U.S. Summer Tour)
  • Allan Clarke - lead vocals, guitar, harmonica
  • Graham Nash - guitar, vocals
  • Alan Coates - guitar, vocals
  • Tony Hicks - guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, keyboards, vocals
  • Steve Stroud - bass
  • Bobby Elliott - drums
  • Peter Arnesen - keyboards
  • Paul Bliss - keyboards


1983 - 1984
  • Allan Clarke - lead vocals, guitar, harmonica
  • Graham Nash - guitar, vocals
  • Alan Coates - guitar, banjo, vocals
  • Tony Hicks - guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, keyboards, vocals
  • Steve Stroud - bass
  • Bobby Elliott - drums
  • Denis Haines - keyboards


1984 - 1986
  • Allan Clarke - lead vocals, guitar, harmonica
  • Alan Coates - guitar, banjo, vocals
  • Tony Hicks - guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, keyboards, vocals
  • Steve Stroud - bass
  • Bobby Elliott - drums
  • Denis Haines - keyboards


1986 - 1990
  • Allan Clarke - lead vocals, guitar, harmonica
  • Alan Coates - guitar, banjo, vocals(Jamie Moses subbed for Coates on a 1986 European tour)
  • Tony Hicks - guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, keyboards, vocals
  • Ray Stiles - bass, vocals
  • Bobby Elliott - drums
  • Denis Haines - keyboards


1990 - 1991
  • Allan Clarke - lead vocals, guitar, harmonica
  • Alan Coates - guitar, banjo, vocals
  • Tony Hicks - guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, keyboards, vocals
  • Steve Stroud - bass
  • Bobby Elliott - drums
  • Dave Carey - keyboards


1991 - 2000
  • Allan Clarke(John Miles filled in for Clarke in early 1999) - lead vocals, guitar, harmonica
  • Alan Coates - guitar, banjo, vocals
  • Tony Hicks - guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, keyboards, vocals
  • Ray Stiles - bass (Steve Stroud subbed for spring 1996 shows)
  • Bobby Elliott - drums
  • Ian Parker - keyboards, woodwinds, backing vocals


2000 - 2004
  • Carl Wayne (Ian Harrison filled in for Wayne in January 2003 & August 2004) - lead vocals
  • Alan Coates - guitar, banjo, vocals
  • Tony Hicks - guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, keyboards, vocals
  • Ray Stiles - bass, vocals
  • Bobby Elliott - drums
  • Ian Parker - keyboards, woodwinds, backing vocals


2004 - present
  • Peter Howarth - lead vocals, guitar
  • Steve Lauri - guitar, vocals
  • Tony Hicks - guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, keyboards, vocals
  • Ray Stiles - bass, vocals
  • Bobby Elliott - drums
  • Ian Parker - keyboards, woodwinds, backing vocals


Discography

See The Hollies discography


Notes

  1. Go-Set Charts site search, accessed 19 July 2009
  2. The Hollies Official Website
  3. Press articles reproduced in The Hollies 2004 Tour Book
  4. Go-Set national Top 40, 12 Apr. 1967
  5. Go-Set national chart, 9 Aug. 1967
  6. Go-Set national Top 40, 8 May 1968
  7. Zimmer, Dave. 2008. Crosby, Stills & Nash: The Biography. p. 69
  8. Press article reproduced in The Hollies tour Book 2004
  9. DISC magazine article reproduced in The Hollies tour Book 2004
  10. Go-Set national chart, 20 Feb. 1970
  11. Go-Set National Top 40, 20 September 1972
  12. Go-Set national Top 40, 1 June 1974


References

  • Artist Profile. (2004). The Hollies. Retrieved 1 September 2006, from Rockphiles Web site: www.rockphiles.com
  • Rock and Roll Biographies. (2000). The Hollies. Retrieved 31 August 2006, from Classicbands Web site: http://www.classicbands.com/hollies.html


External links




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