Among all of the British Invasion bands, the Hollies hold the record for longevity, playing continuously from 1962 through the present. And the band’s two best known members, Graham Nash and Allan Clarke, go back even further. They became friends as five-year-olds in 1947, when Clarke was the new kid in school and Nash was the only person who would sit next to him.
By the time they were teenagers, Clarke and Nash were performing an Everly Brothers-style act around Manchester. In the early Sixties they played with a revolving group of musicians, until late 1962, when the Hollies took the stage at Manchester’s Oasis Club. They were a hit, and for their second gig, the Hollies filled the Beatles’ slot at the Cavern in Liverpool. Playing a repertoire of their own material mixed with American R&B, they signed a contract with EMI and recorded a cover version of the Zodiac’s “Stay,” which went to #8 on the UK charts. They followed it up with another R&B cover, “Just One Look.”
The Hollies first original ‘A’ side, “We’re Through,” written by Nash, Clarke and and guitarist Tony Hicks, reached the #7 spot on the British charts in the fall of 1964. More than a year later, the Hollies had their first US hit record, “Look Through Any Window,” which peaked at #32 in January of 1966. That same year, Bernie Calvert replaced original member Eric Haydock. While Calvert lacked Haydock’s reputation as a superb bass player, it was his arrival that coincided with the Hollies’ breakthrough as a top-tier band. Their next single, “Bus Stop,” reached #5 in Britain and the US.
The Hollies’ next album, For Certain Because, won praise from music critics. They continued to perform live and released a string of hits in early 1967: “Stop! Stop! Stop!”, “Carousel,” and “Carrie Ann,” which reached the #3 spot in Britain and #9 in the US.
By 1968, Nash was feeling constrained by the band’s management, and he left the band when the Hollies announced their next album would be devoted to Bob Dylan songs. Nash joined Stephen Stills of the Buffalo Springfield and former Byrd’s member David Crosby to create one of the most successful groups in rock and roll history.
Nash was replaced by Terry Sylvester, a member of the Liverpool band, The Swinging Blue Jeans. The Hollies had two hits in 1969: “Sorry, Suzanne”, which reached #3 in the UK and “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.”
The start of the Seventies was marked by the departure of Allan Clarke, who wanted to begin a solo career. A dispute with his bandmates – on whether to release “Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)” as his record or the Hollies’ – was the final straw. But by 1974, Clarke was back and the release of “The Air That I Breathe” would be the Hollies’ last big hit for many years. The group spent the remainder of the Seventies playing small venues and touring.
Graham Nash decided to rejoin the Hollies in 1983, but his return failed to boost the group’s fortunes. EMI re-issued “He Ain’t Heavy” in 1988 and once again, the record topped the British charts, almost 20 years after the original release reached #1. Despite that success, the Hollies’ more recent albums and singles were going nowhere, and the band decided to stop recording for a time in the early Nineties.
By 2000, Clarke and Nash had left the band again, but the Hollies continue touring and released a new studio album in 2006.
They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March, 2010.
Where Are They Now?
Graham Nash and David Crosby released an album in 2004. In 2006, Nash worked with Crosby and David Gilmour on the tiitle track of Gilmour’s third solo album, On an Island, which topped the charts in Great Britain. Nash’s 65-song career-retrospective box set, Reflection, came out in 2008. He appeared on the 2008 season finale of American Idol singing “Teach Your Children” with Brooke White.
Allan Clarke released several solo albums in the 1980s and retired from the music business in 2000 to spend more time with his wife, who had survived a bout with cancer.
Guitarist Tony Hicks and drummer Bobby Elliott continue touring with the Hollies.
“Carrie Anne, 1969”
Medley of hits, Belgium, December 2006
US Singles Releases
Stay — 1963
Just One Look (#98) — May 1964
Here I Go Again (#107) — August 1964
We’re Through — 1964
Yes I Will — 1965
I’m Alive (#103) — August 1965
Look Through Any Window (#32) — November 1965
I Can’t Let Go (#42) — March 1966
Bus Stop (#5) — July 1966
After the Fox — 1966
Stop Stop Stop (#7) — October 1966
On A Carousel (#11) — March 1967
Pay You Back With Interest (#28) — May 1967
Carrie-Anne (#9) — June 1967
Just One Look (reissued — #44) — September 1967
King Midas In Reverse (#51) — October 1967
Dear Eloise (#50) — November 1967
If I Needed Someone — 1967
Jennifer Eccles (#40) — March 1968
Do The Best You Can (#93) — September 1968
Listen To Me (#129) — November 1968
Sorry Suzanne (#56) — April 1969
He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother (#7) — December 1969
I Can’t Tell The Bottom From The Top (#82) — May 1970
Gasoline Alley Bred / Dandelion Wine — 1970
Survival Of The Fittest / Man Without A Heart — 1971
Hey Willy (#110) / Row The Boat Together — September 1971
The Baby / Oh, Granny — 1972
Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress (#2) — June 1972
Long Dark Road (#26) — November 1972
Magic Woman Touch (#60) — January 1973
Jesus Was A Crossmaker — 1973
Slow Down — 1973
The Day That Curly Bill Shot Sam McGee — 1973
The Air That I Breathe (#6) — April 1974
Sandy (#85) — April 1975
I’m Down (#104) — October 1975
Another Night (#71) — June 1975
Stop In The Name of Love (#29) — May 1983
Casualty — September 1983