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Hollies

The Hollies are an English pop and rock group, formed in Manchester in the early 1960s, though most of the band members are from throughout East Lancashire. Known for their distinctive vocal harmony style, they became one of the leading British groups of the 1960s and 1970s. 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 have never officially broken up and that continue to record and perform. The Hollies were inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.

History

Formation

The original line-up included Allan Clarke as lead vocalist, Graham Nash as guitarist and vocalist, Vic Steele (born Victor Winston Farrell, 8 May 1945, Manchester) on guitar, with Eric Haydock on bass guitar and Don Rathbone on drums (born Donald Rathbone, October 1942, Wilmslow, Cheshire). Steele left in April 1963, shortly before they signed to Parlophone as label-mates of The Beatles. Tony Hicks, who replaced Steele, and Bobby Elliott, who replaced Don 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 member of The Dolphins.

The group’s first US album release was in 1964 as part of the first wave of British Invasion acts. It has been suggested that Haydock named the group after the green garland for Christmas. 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 and wrote that same year “We called ourselves The Hollies, after Buddy, and Christmas.”

1960s

The Hollies 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.

The group was discovered and signed by EMI’s Ron Richards, who produced most of The Hollies’ music between 1963 to 1979. Their EMI debut single “Ain’t That Just Like Me” was released in May 1963, and hit No.25 on the UK Singles Chart. Their second single, a cover of The Coasters’ “Searchin,” hit No.12. They scored their first British Top 10 hit in early 1964 with a cover of Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs’ “Stay”, which reached No.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 No.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-US label Imperial.

They followed up with “Just One Look” (February 1964,UK No.2), and the hits continued with “Here I Go Again” (May 1964, UK No.4); the group’s first self-penned hit “We’re Through” (Sep. 1964, UK No.7); “Yes I Will” (Jan. 1965, UK No.9); the Clint Ballard, Jr.-penned “I’m Alive” (May 1965, UK#1, US No.103); and “Look Through Any Window” (Sept. 1965, UK No.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 No.20 in the UK.

They returned to the UK Top 10 with “I Can’t Let Go” (Feb. 1966, UK No.2, US No.42) and “Bus Stop” (UK No.2, US No.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 electric bass & 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.

The Everly Brothers 1966 album ‘Two Yanks in England’ consisted largely of covers of original Hollies compositions, with members of the group (notably Clarke, Hicks & Nash) and guitarist Jimmy Page assisting the American duo on the album.

From this point until Nash’s departure, the single A-sides were – with the exceptions of ‘Jennifer Eccles’ (Clarke-Nash) and ‘Listen To Me’ (Tony Hazzard) – all Clarke-Hicks-Nash collaborations; “Stop, Stop, Stop” (Oct. 1966, UK No.2, US No.7), known for its distinctive banjo arrangement; “On a Carousel” (Feb. 1967; UK No.4, 1967, US No.11, Australia No.14,), “Carrie Anne” (May 1967, UK No.3, US No.9, Australia No.7) (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 No.18 in the UK charts and this relative failure was a factor in Nash deciding to leave the group. The last original Hollies single of the ’60s to feature Graham Nash was “Jennifer Eccles” (Mar. 1968, UK No.7, US No.40, Aust. No.13), while Nash’s final sixties Hollies single was ‘Listen To Me’ issued in September 1968.

Like most British groups during this period, The Hollies’ US releases usually 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 No.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 No.75, the group’s first US album to enter the Top 100. Several of The Hollies’ early albums included group compositions, usually listed under the pseudonym “L. Ransford”.

In October 1966, For Certain Because (UK No.23, 1966) was the group’s fifth album, their first album consisting entirely of original compositions by Clarke, Hicks and Nash. Released in the US as Stop! Stop! Stop! it reached US No.91 and spawned a US release only single “Pay You Back With Interest” which was a modest hit reaching US No.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 US label Epic. It reached UK No.13 and US No.43. The US version included the single “Carrie Anne”.

Discography

Studio Albums

1964 Stay with the Hollies – http://bopping-elf.co.uk/hollies/hollies-stay-with-the-hollies/

1964 In the Hollies Style – Coming soon 18/10/2015

Butterfly – http://bopping-elf.co.uk/hollies/hollies-butterfly/

Distant Light – http://bopping-elf.co.uk/hollies/hollies-distant-light/

Compilations

Greatest Hts – http://www.bopping-elf.co.uk/hollies/

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