The Hollies: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Hollies

Background information
Origin North West, England
Genres Beat music, psychedelic rock, rock
Years active 1962–present
Labels Parlophone
Tony Hicks
Bobby Elliott
Ray Stiles
Steve Lauri
Ian Parker
Peter Howarth
Former members
(see also List of band members)
Graham Nash
Allan Clarke
Denis Haines
Terry Sylvester
Eric Haydock
Allen Coates
Vic Steele
Don Rathbone
Bernie Calvert
Mikael Rickfors
Carl Wayne

The Hollies are an English rock group, formed in Manchester in the early 1960s, though most of the band members are from East Lancashire. Known for their distinctive vocal harmony style, they became one of the leading British groups of the era. They enjoyed considerable popularity in many countries, although they did not achieve major US chart success until 1966. Along with the Rolling Stones and The Searchers, they are one of the few British pop groups of the early 1960s that has never officially broken up and which continues to record and perform to the present. The Hollies were inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.[1]




The original lineup included Allan Clarke as lead vocalist, Graham Nash as guitarist and vocalist, Vic Steele (real name Vic Farrell, 1945) 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 as label-mates of the Beatles. Tony Hicks, who replaced him, and Bobby Elliott, who replaced Rathbone, joined the band in quick succession in 1963; both had played in a Nelson-based band, the Dolphins, Bernie Calvert, who replaced Haydock in 1966, was also a Dolphin member.

The group's first U.S. album release came in 1964 as part of the first wave of British Invasion acts. They are commonly associated with Manchester, as some of the original Hollies grew up in the city. In a 2009 interview, member Graham Nash said that the group decided just prior to a performance to call themselves the "Hollies" because of their admiration for Buddy Holly.[2]


The Hollies had a squeaky-clean image, and were known for their bright vocal harmonies. Though initially known for its cover versions, the band moved towards written-to-order songs provided to them by such writers as Graham Gouldman. Soon after, the group's in-house songwriting trio of Clarke, Hicks and Nash began providing hits.

Their EMI debut single "Ain't That Just Like Me" was released in May 1963, and 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 Zodiacs' "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 "Just One Look" (February 1964,UK #2), and 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), which featured Jack Bruce on Bass guitar & Burt Bacharach himself on keyboards and was 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,[3]), "Carrie Anne" (May 1967, UK #3, US #9, Australia #7[4]) (the song from which actress Carrie-Anne Moss got her name, having been born when the song was on the charts). An attempt to make a more ambitious, less poppy piece with "King Midas in Reverse" only made #18 in the UK charts and this relative failure was a factor in Nash deciding to leave the group. The last Hollies single of the '60s to feature Graham Nash was "Jennifer Eccles" (Mar. 1968, UK #7, US #40, Aust. #13[5]).

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. The Searchers and Paul & Barry Ryan each had a minor UK Chart hit with Their song "Have You Ever loved Somebody" in 1967....while Graham Nash co-wrote John Walker's first solo hit "Annabella" that year...and later in 1968 Nash took a guest vocal on The Scaffold's UK Chart topper "Lily The Pink" (which referenced The Hollies 1968 hit "Jennifer Eccles")

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".

Graham Nash's departure

When Nash left in December 1968 it was due to a number of issues. Nash was by then feeling something of a prisoner of his early pop success; like John Lennon and George Harrison he too disliked the screaming of fans drowning out the songs in concerts. He felt imprisoned within The Hollies "pop group identity" too, when he wanted to write more personalised songs of a reflective nature not necessarily utilising vocal harmonies, and was clashing with producer Ron Richards over material. 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. Nash told Disc magazine, "I can't take touring any more. I just want to sit at home and write songs. I don't really care what the rest of the group think." [6].

Graham Nash was replaced by guitarist-singer Terry Sylvester, formerly of both The Escorts, a second generation Merseybeat group who had a minor UK chart hit in 1964 with "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" and from 1966-1968 was with The Swinging Blue Jeans. This revised Hollies lineup had an immediate 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 last single prior to Nash's departure was the Tony Hazzard penned "Listen To Me" (Sep. 1968, UK #11), which featured Nicky Hopkins on piano, and was backed by "Do The Best You Can", the last original Nash-Clarke-Hicks song to appear on a single. The Hollies, like The Beatles, also donated a unique song to a charity album in aid of The World Wildlife Fund around this time. The Clarke-Nash song "Wings" joined the original version of Lennon's "Across The Universe" on the album "No One's Gonna Change Our World" issued by EMI on a budget label in 1969. Their next album was Hollies Sing Dylan which reached 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.


Their next single, "I Can't Tell The Bottom From The Top", again featured the young Elton John on piano and reached UK #7 in April 1970, charting in twelve countries. The UK hits continued with "Gasoline Alley Bred" (Sep. 1970, UK #14,Australia #20[7]) while Tony Hicks song "Too Young To Be Married" -- only an Album track in UK & USA -- was a No. 1 single Australia, New Zealand, and Malaysia, also reaching no.9 in Singapore too. Allan Clarke's hard edged rocker "Hey Willy" made UK #22 in 1971, charting in eight other countries.

Like Graham Nash earlier, by 1971 Frontman Allan Clarke was also growing frustrated, and he too began clashing with producer Ron Richards over material, and was eager to cut a solo album. He too departed from The Hollies in December 1971, a move which surprised both the band's fans and the public in general. With the end of their EMI/Parlophone contract they signed with Polydor and Swedish singer Mikael Rickfors formerly of the group Bamboo (who had supported The Hollies in Sweden in 1967) was quickly recruited and sang lead on the single "The Baby" (UK #26, 1972) and the album "Romany" (which reached No. 84 in the USA). 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[8]. A further Clarke sung track was also lifted from "Distant Light" as a USA single "Long Dark Road" making No. 26. A second Rickfors-sung single, "Magic Woman Touch," (1972) failed to chart in the UK, becoming their first official single to miss since 1963, although it did chart in seven other countries, reaching the Top Ten in Holland, New Zealand and Hong Kong. A second Rickfors-led Hollies Album "Out On The Road" (1973) was recorded and issued in Germany, however no UK or USA release was made as Rickfors then stepped down -- giving this lost Hollies Album legendary status among the band's fans, and high prices on the original German release. Rickfors departed as Allan Clarke rejoined the group in late summer 1973 and they then 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 new singles 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[9] and made the Top 10 in the US.

1980s–2000s and beyond

In 1980 the Hollies returned to the UK charts with the single "Soldier's Song" which was a minor hit in 1980 reaching number 58 in the UK. They also released an album of Buddy Holly covers aptly named "Buddy Holly". In Summer 1981 Calvert and Sylvester left. The Hollies issued their last Polydor single "Take My Love and Run" in November 1981 but this failed to chart. Just before that in August 1981 they released "Holliedaze" on EMI, a medley edited together by Tony Hicks from their hit records, which returned them to the UK Top 30. At the request of the BBC, Nash and Haydock briefly rejoined to promote the record on Top of the Pops. They continued to record and tour throughout the mid-1980s. Graham Nash joined them for the recording of an Alan Tarney song "Somethin' Ain't Right" on 10 September 1981 which led to a proper reunion album "What Goes Around..." issued on WEA Records in July 1983. The Hollies last hit the US Top 40 with a remake of The Supremes' "Stop in the Name of Love", which reached No. 29 in 1983, taken from the album What Goes Around. A live album featuring the Clarke-Hicks-Elliott-Nash re-grouping, Reunion, was recorded at Kings Head Park, Ohio, during a USA tour that followed that same year, finally being issued first in 1997 as "Archive Alive", then retitled "Reunion" (with two extra tracks) in 2004.

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.

The Hollies were awarded an Ivor Novello Award in 1995 for Outstanding Contribution to British Music.

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. A New Zealand "Hollies Greatest Hits" compilation made Number One in that country in 2001, dislodging The Beatles' "One" Collection from the top spot. While re-establishing the band as a touring attraction over 2000 to mid-2004, Carl Wayne, however, only recorded one song with them, "How Do I Survive?", the last (and only new) track on the 2003 Greatest Hits (which reached no. 21 in the UK Album chart). After Wayne's shock 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 studio album Then, Now, Always, in late March 2009, featuring Peter Howarth on lead vocals.

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. In 1966 "Bus Stop" reached No.5 in the USA, while their own song "Stop Stop Stop" made no.7, 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" (no.7), "Long Cool Woman" (no.2) and "The Air That I Breathe"(no.6).

On September 24, 2009, the Hollies were nominated for induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame[10], and on December 18, 2009, were announced as inductees, to be inducted on March 15, 2010. [11]

Terry Sylvester announced on The Strange Dave Show[12] that the band will be reuniting with Graham Nash and Allan Clarke for a live performance at the induction ceremony. In a recorded interview broadcast on BBC Radio 2 (Radcliffe and Maconie) on Monday 15 February 2010, Tony Hicks expressed his regret that this live reunion would not, in fact, take place, as the band had a previous commitment to play at the London Palladium on the same day.

Band members

See List of The Hollies band members


See The Hollies discography


External links

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address