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Members include Bernie Calvert (born on September 16, 1942, in Lancashire, England), drums; Allan Clarke (born on April 5, 1942, in Lancashire, England; left group temporarily, 1972), lead vocals; Bobby Elliott (born on December 8, 1942, in Lancashire, England), bass guitar; Eric Haydock, drums; Tony Hicks (born on December 16, 1945, in Lancashire, England), lead guitar; Graham Nash (born on February 2, 1942, in Blackpool, England; left group, 1968), songwriting, guitar; Don Rathbone, bass guitar; Terry Sylvester (born on January 8, 1947, in Liverpool, England), vocals, guitar. Addresses: Management--Jimmy Smith, Hill Farm, Hackleton, Northamptonshire NN7 2DH, England, e-mail: jimmysmith@hackletonfarms.freeserve.co.uk. Website--The Hollies Official Website: http://www.hollies.co.uk.

One of the more notable groups to emerge from the British Invasion of the early 1960s was named for an archetypical American pop singer. The Hollies--named in honor of Buddy Holly--got their start in Manchester, England, and it was in their native country that they were most successful. Indeed, according to Irwin Stambler in the Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock & Soul, "the group never achieved the reputation in the U.S. it maintained in England and most other countries in the western world, but their music ... certainly affected trends in America."

The Hollies were founded by two childhood friends in Lancashire, England. Allan Clarke was a singer/guitarist who teamed up with an aspiring singer/songwriter named Graham Nash. As students in the 1950s they worked together in a singing act as the Two Teens and gained acclaim as the youngest performers to appear at the respected Manchester Cabaret Club. Clarke and Nash entered the engineering field together, performing part-time in an act called the Guytones, which later expanded into a quartet, the Four Tones. By the early 1960s the two had brought in bass guitarist Don Rathbone and drummer Eric Haydock to perform as the Deltas. A re-formation in 1963 led to the group that was then called the Hollies.

Only one thing was missing from the new group, however. "Nash and Clarke felt they needed an exceptional lead guitarist to provide the basis for a top-flight group," wrote Stambler. They found one in Tony Hicks, one of the most respected guitarists in Manchester. Hicks was reluctant to commit to a full-time band as he was gainfully employed as an electrical apprentice at the time. But he was convinced by Nash and Clarke to take a leave of absence from his job and travel to London with the group to make a test recording. The well-received test made Hicks a member of the Hollies.

Almost before the group was established, changes began appearing in the band. Rathbone left and was replaced by Bobby Elliott, formerly of the group Shane Fenton and the Fentones. Over the years, other departures and replacements would result in a virtually all-new Hollies. But the original band proved a success in England's clubs, rivaling the early Beatles in popularity.

The band's first album, Stay with the Hollies, was released in 1964. In those early days they recorded few original songs, instead covering R&B standards like "Memphis," "Lucille," and "Candy Man." Soon after their first release the band became a major success in England, and their second LP, In the Hollies Style, showcased several Nash-Clark-Hicks compositions along with the R&B covers. The LPs sold well in England, though the band would subsequently be known more for its singles than for its albums. The group's first number-one United Kingdom single, "I'm Alive," came out of their third album, Hollies. In developing their distinctive three-part harmonies, the Hollies gained commercial success that would translate to American audiences when the band's singles began appearing in early 1966. At the height of the British Invasion, the Hollies were welcomed by American audiences on the strength of Clarke's vocals on such rollicking tunes as "Stop Stop Stop," "Look through Any Window," "Bus Stop," and "Carrie Ann." "Here the Hollies were providing something of a satisfying option for pop-oriented listeners [who] found the increasingly experimental outings of groups like the Beatles and Kinks too difficult to follow," wrote Richie Unterberger of All Music Guide.

By 1967 the Hollies' success as a "bubblegum" group was established. The band's pop stardom was becoming a thorn in the side of founding member Graham Nash, who wished to open the band up to more experimentation. "The real drama lies in the LPs, which chart the widening rift between Alan Clarke and Tony Hicks' crass commercialism and Nash's growing independence," noted a contributor to the website Wilson & Alroy's Record Reviews. Nash decided to leave the Hollies in 1968 to explore his artistic options. He went on to great fame as part of the seminal folk-rock combo Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

The post-Nash Hollies were characterized by slightly more mature numbers including "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother." The band tried to jump on the folk bandwagon by recording an album of what Unterberger called "Hollie-ized [Bob] Dylan songs," which fared poorly in the United States but sold briskly in England. By 1969 the group had peaked commercially and artistically, according to Unterberger: "They'd managed a remarkably long run at the top considering that they hadn't changed their formula much since the mid-'60s, adding enough sophistication to the lyrics and arrangements to avoid sounding markedly dated." The group--now consisting of Clarke, Hicks, Elliott, Nash replacement Terry Sylvester, and Bernie Calvert (who took the place of Eric Haydock)--made a comeback of sorts in 1972 with the hit "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress," a nod to the growing influence of the country-flavored rock stylings popularized by Creedence Clearwater Revival. But the uptick for the Hollies proved only temporary, with their declining fortunes worsened by lead singer Hicks's resignation from the group in November of 1972. He was replaced by Sweden's Mikael Rikfors. Hicks returned in 1973 to provide the vocals for the group's final original hit, "The Air That I Breathe," which rose to number six on the American pop charts in 1974.

After releasing several albums of live performances, greatest hits, cover songs, and new compositions throughout the 1970s, the Hollies temporarily disbanded in 1981. But in the wake of the disco era, a dance mix of Hollies tunes became popular, so the band re-formed to cut the album What Goes Around. A 1983 single from that collection, a cover of "Stop! In the Name of Love," would reach into the American top 40. The thirtieth anniversary of the Hollies was marked by the release of a three-disc CD box set. David Browne of Entertainment Weekly found that this comprehensive collection was valuable primarily for the restored versions of the band's best-known songs, which he said "have never sounded better." The rest--the R&B covers, remakes, and new releases--"should please only collectors and diehards."

With the retirement of Clarke, the group known as the Hollies was no more, though, according to Wilson & Alroy's Record Reviews, Hicks "continues to lead a band under the Hollies name." In January of 2001, in a radio interview that appears on the official Hollies website, Hicks said that a new generation had tuned into the sounds of the 1960s and 1970s. But he added that the current Hollies incarnation transcends nostalgia. "You can't bring yourself back to where you were," he noted. "You have to go beyond that. The reaction is clear that we've done that. It is a rebirth. It's fabulous and we're really enjoying it."

by Susan Salter

The Hollies's Career

Group formed in Manchester, England, 1962; released debut album Stay with the Hollies, 1964; released numerous recordings, 1964-; disbanded, 1981; re-formed for touring fronted by Tony Hicks with Carl Wayne, Ian Parker, Alan Coates, Ray Stiles, 1983.

Famous Works

Further Reading



The Hollies Lyrics

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about 14 years ago

Great website. I remember seeing the Hollies around 1966 at Wolverhampton. They were fantastic. I now live in Poland with my Polish Partner. The only memories we have is the Hollies Greatest Hits. She was born one year after I saw them, but thinks their music is great. We play it so much. Thanks for the information, but what became of them all, and was Carl Wayne (of he Vikings) really involved with them? Laurence Bolton

about 15 years ago

Seen most of the shows in the latest 2009 tour - on every occasion the Hollies received a standing ovation. I am still a fan of Clarkie but credit to Peter Howarth, he has an amazing powerful voice and puts his heart and soul in all he does - I can assure you no large ego exists with this guy, a very humble but very talented man. PS Bobby plays drums not base guitar. Thanks to all the rest of the guys, for another great tour. Looking forward to Scotland

about 15 years ago

Seen most of the shows in the latest 2009 tour - on every occasion the Hollies received a standing ovation. I am still a fan of Clarkie but credit to Peter Howarth, he has an amazing powerful voice and puts his heart and soul in all he does - I can assure you no large ego exists with this guy, a very humble but very talented man. PS Bobby plays drums not base guitar. Thanks to all the rest of the guys, for another great tour. Looking forward to Scotland

about 15 years ago

Far to much BUBBLEGUM, Peter Howarth was milking the Hollies Great Hits. He looked & sounded very much like he belonged to SWEET!!from the 70"s. hanging onto there forefathers apron strings. Peter Howarth is a little man with a very large ego !! ALAN CLARKE he ain"t. Peter just can't tell the bottom from the top !!!!!!!

almost 16 years ago

Correct Facts: Allan Clarke temporarily resigned in 1972, not Tony Hicks! Don Rathbone played drums!

almost 17 years ago

I have in my possesion a 45EP of the Holies singing Princes Purple Rain and it is signed on the front sleeve by the group at the time of the recording. I beleive only 1000 of these were printed. Do you know any body that would be interested in bying it? Yours Buddy