The Hollies are an English rock group from Manchester 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.
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 Nelson-based band, the Dolphins, joined the band in quick succession in 1963. Bernie Calvert who replaced Haydock in 1966 was also a Dolphin member.
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 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 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.
Still, 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 refered 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 Bealtes 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); their only British #1 single, the Clint Ballard, Jr. penned "I'm Alive" (May 1965, UK#1, US #103) but "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 "Bus Stop" (UK #2, US #5, 1966) (written by future 10CC member Graham Gouldman) and "I Can't Let Go" (Feb. 1966, UK #2, US #42). 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.
Drummer Bobby Elliot in the 1960s
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