Profile: 'The Hollies'

English pop group The Hollies in a recording studio, 1st September 1973.
Michael Putland/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The two founding members of the Hollies were encouraged to play music for a living the same way most postwar Brits did, through the skiffle craze of the late Fifties. As a group, the Hollies also got their start the same place the Beatles did—Liverpool's Cavern Club, where childhood friends Graham Nash and Allan Clarke had assembled a band of fellow Lancashires. They were also signed to Parlophone in the UK, but unfortunately, also as with many British Invasion bands, their own individual style was subsumed by Merseybeat covers of American R&B hits (their versions of "Stay" and "Just One Look" scored in England).


Nash, Clarke, and guitarist Tony Hicks had already begun to perfect their signature vocal blend and their songwriting, reaching the British Top Ten with the originals "We're Through," "I'm Alive" and "I Can't Let Go" (the latter two zooming straight to #1). However, it was songwriter Graham Gouldman (later of 10cc) who got them onto the American charts, first with "Look Through Any Window," then the Top Ten "Bus Stop." This gained the band greater creative control, resulting in 1967's all original album For Certain Because which finally got them a US hit of their own in "Stop! Stop! Stop!"

Later years

By 1968, the Hollies were in control of their own destiny, dabbling in heavy psychedelia, but a planned album of Dylan covers struck Nash as a step backward, and he soon left to form the world's first "supergroup," Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Ironically, the band soon found their biggest hits from outside songwriters: the power ballads "The Air That I Breathe" and "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother," and also the CCR-styled "Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)," co-written by Clarke and originally intended for a solo project. The group soon splintered; a version of the group containing neither Nash or Clarke tours today.


1962 (Manchester, England)


British Invasion, Pop-rock, Pop, Psychedelia

Principal Members

Graham Nash (b. Graham William Nash, February 2, 1942, Blackpool, Lancashire, England): guitar, vocals
Allan Clarke (b. Harold Allan Clarke, April 5, 1942, Salford, Lancashire, England): lead vocals, guitar
Tony Hicks (b. Anthony Christopher Hicks, December 16, 1945, Nelson, Lancashire, England): lead guitar
Bernie Calvert (b. Bernard Bamford Calvert, September 16, 1942, Brierfield, Lancashire, England): bass guitar
Bobby Elliott (b. Robert Hartley Elliott, December 8, 1942, Bolton, Lancashire, England): drums

Contributions to Music

  • Their Everly-Brothers inspired harmonies were among the finest of the Sixties
  • Were one of the first British rock bands to hit big in their native country, yet the last of the "British Invasion" to make it in America
  • Leads Allan Clarke and (especially) Graham Nash would prove to be among the decade's finest pop songwriters
  • The original Bobby Elliott / Eric Haydock rhythm section was considered the finest in Britain

Other Facts

  • Other Hollies members have included: Eric Haydock (bass, 1962-1966), Terry Sylvester (vocals and guitar, 1968-1981), Mikael Rickfors (lead vocals and guitar, 1971-1973)
  • The group's name was not a tribute to Buddy Holly, as has been rumored, but rather inspired by Christmas holly on Nash's house
  • "The Air That I Breathe" was written by Albert Hammond, father of the Strokes' guitarist
  • Gave Bruce Springsteen an early break by covering his song "Sandy"
  • The group's 1966 cover of the Beatles' "If I Needed Someone" was such a critical and commercial failure it engendered a public squabble between the Hollies and George Harrison


  • Ivor Novello Award (1993)
  • Vocal Group Hall Of Fame (2007)

Recorded Work

Top 10 hits

  • "Bus Stop" (1966)
  • "Stop! Stop! Stop!" (1966)
  • "Carrie-Anne" (1967)
  • "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" (1970)
  • "Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)" (1972)
  • "The Air That I Breathe" (1974)

Other Popular Recordings
"I Can't Let Go," "On A Carousel," "Look Through Any Window," "Dear Eloise," "King Midas In Reverse," "Pay You Back With Interest," "Jennifer Eccles," "Long Dark Road," "Everything Is Sunshine," "Try It," "Listen To Me," "Do The Best You Can," "Sorry Suzanne," "I Can't Tell The Bottom From The Top," "Gasoline Alley Bred," "Magic Woman Touch," "Indian Girl," "4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)," "Another Night," "Stay," "Here I Go Again," "Yes I Will, I'll Be True To You," "It's You," "Running Through The Night," "(Ain't That) Just Like Me," "Hey What's Wrong With Me," "Searchin'," "Just One Look," "We're Through," "Come On Back," "I'm Alive," "If I Needed Someone," "Hey Willy," "The Baby," "The Day That Curly Billy Shot Down Crazy Sam McGee," "Jesus Was a Cross Maker"

Covered By

The Posies, Cub, Semisonic, Tommy Keene, Jon Brion, The Housemartins, The Osmonds, Neil Diamond, Olivia Newton-John, k.d. lang, Simply Red, Hank Williams Jr., Dan Fogelberg, Rockapella, Material Issue, The Loud Family, Roger Whittaker, Rufus Wainwright, Kevin Rowland, Sloan, The Mavericks, Wondermints, Boiled In Lead

Appears in the Movies

"It's All Over Town" (1963)