Music: The Hollies

The Hollies in the late-60's. Clockwise from left: Allan Clarke, Graham Nash, Bernie Calvert, Tony Hicks and Bobby Elliot.

"This is station management with an announcement. I wish to apologize for the disc jockey calling that song, which is, "A Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress" by The Hollies, as "A Long Black Woman In A Cool Dress" and ask forgiveness of any of our listeners who were offended. In cooperation with our friends in the music industry, the disc jockey who made those remarks has been properly disciplined and won't be returning. For that reason, we recommend you do not eat any hamburger processed this week. We take music very seriously here. All the best music, KFVD, Los Angeles."

The Hollies are an English rock and roll group, formed in Manchester in 1962. Named after Buddy Holly, they became known for their their distinctive vocal harmony style, courtesy of lead vocalist Allan Clarke, and guitarist/vocalists Graham Nash and Tony Hicks, with Terry Sylvester taking over Nash's end of the harmonies after the former left the band. The band are also well-known for their longevity, having formed over 50 years ago and never breaking up in that time. In fact, they are still going to this day - albeit without Allan Clarke, who retired in 2000.

Though the Hollies didn't quite achieve the same level of success as their contemporaries The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, they had a wide variety of hit singles in their native England and enjoyed some success internationally. They had a few hits in the United States, but they are perhaps best known in that country for being the band that Graham Nash was in prior to Crosby, Stills, Nash (And Young). The Hollies were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.


Principal Members (Founding members in bold, current members in italic):

  • Peter Arnesen - keyboard, synthesizer, vocals (1979-1983)
  • Paul Bliss - keyboard, synthesizer, vocals (1978-1983, 1990-1991)
  • Bernie Calvert - bass, piano, keyboard (1966-1981)
  • Dave Carey - keyboard (1990)
  • Allan Clarke - lead vocals, guitar, harmonica (1962-1971, 1973-1977, 1978-1999)
  • Alan Coates - guitar, vocals, banjo (1981-2004)
  • Bobby Elliot - drums, percussion (1963-Present)
  • Denis Haines - keyboard (1983-1990)
  • Eric Haydock - bass (1962-1966, 1981)
  • Tony Hicks - guitar, backing and lead vocals, banjo, mandolin, bass, sitar, keyboard (1963-Present)
  • Peter Howarth - lead vocals, guitar (2004-Present)
  • Steve Lauri - guitar, vocals (2004-Present)
  • Graham Nash - guitar, backing and lead vocals (1962-1968, 1981, 1982-1984, 1993)
  • Ian Parker - keyboard, woodwinds, vocals (1991-Present)
  • Don Rathbone - drums (1962-1963)
  • Mikael Rickfors - lead vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, harmonica, percussion (1971-1973)
  • Vic Steele - guitar (1962-1963)
  • Ray Stiles - bass, vocals (1986-1990, 1991-Present)
  • Steve Stroud - bass (1981-1986, 1990-1991, 1996)
  • Terry Sylvester - guitar, backing and lead vocals (1969-1981)
  • Carl Wayne - lead vocals (2000-2004, died 2004)
  • Pete Wingfield - keyboard, synthesizer (1974-1977)


Studio Discography:

  • 1964 - Stay With The Hollies
  • 1964 - The Hollies note 
  • 1964 - Just One Look note 
  • 1964 - Here I Go Again note 
  • 1964 - In The Hollies Style
  • 1964 - We're Through note 
  • 1965 - Hollies note 
  • 1965 - I'm Alive note 
  • 1966 - I Can't Let Go note 
  • 1966 - Would You Believe?
  • 1966 - For Certain Because
  • 1967 - Evolution
  • 1967 - Butterfly
  • 1969 - Hollies Sing Dylan
  • 1969 - Hollies Sing Hollies
  • 1970 - Confessions Of The Mind
  • 1971 - Distant Light
  • 1972 - Romany
  • 1973 - Out On The Road
  • 1974 - Hollies note 
  • 1975 - Another Night
  • 1976 - Write On
  • 1976 - Russian Roulette
  • 1978 - A Crazy Steal
  • 1979 - 5317704
  • 1980 - Buddy Holly
  • 1983 - What Goes Around
  • 2006 - Staying Power
  • 2009 - Then, Now, Always


Associated Tropes:

  • Album Title Drop: A Crazy Steal takes its title from a line in "Hello To Romance".
  • Artistic License Ships: "Row The Boat Together" features a man from Tokyo who claims that he "used to handle a junk back home". Junks were Chinese, not Japanese.
  • The Band Minus the Face: After lead singer Allan Clarke left the band in 1971, they hired an unknown Swedish singer named Mikael Rikfors to replace him. Rikfors was solid in the studio, but live shows were another matter. Rikfors completely lacked Clarke's charisma on stage, and his sound was so different from Clarke's that when the band tried to play their old hits, the results sounded strange and awkward. The albums recorded with Rikfors are highly regarded, but were commercial failures that sounded nothing like the trademark Hollies sound. The band eventually reunited with Clarke, and Rikfors was let go.
    • Clarke retired from the music business in 1999 and was replaced by Carl Wayne, then finally Peter Howarth. They've recorded two albums with Howarth, which have largely been rejected by the fan-base for not sounding much like the Hollies.
  • Belly Dancer: "Stop! Stop! Stop!" is about a man who is so obsessed with a belly dancer that he tries to grab her in the middle of her performance.
  • Born Unlucky: "King Midas In Reverse".
  • Cover Album: Hollies Sing Dylan, an album of Bob Dylan covers, and Buddy Holly, an album of Buddy Holly covers. The group's first album, Stay With The Hollies, contained 14 tracks, only one of which was an original composition.
  • Cross Referenced Titles: The band followed up their album Hollies Sing Dylan, a Bob Dylan covers album, with Hollies Sing Hollies, an album containing entirely original compositions.
  • Cut-and-Paste Translation: Like most British groups of their era, the Hollies were subject to having their UK albums chopped and rearranged for the American market. Unlike the Beatles and the Stones, who eventually gained enough influence to put a stop to it, the Hollies saw this practice continue well into the 1970's. For instance, their US label did not even bother to release their 1976 albums Write On and Russian Roulette separately. Instead, they released Clarke, Hicks, Sylvester, Calvert, and Elliot, which combined seemingly randomly picked songs from both albums - and then for good measure tossed in their cover of Bruce Springsteen's "4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)", despite that song having already been released (even in the US) on their 1975 album Another Night.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: "Very Last Day".
  • Greatest Hits Album: Numerous ones. The Hollies were always regarded as mainly a singles act in the United States. Thus, most Hollies CDs that you'll find in American stores today are compilations of some sort.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: 25th Anniversary Collection includes studio chatter at the beginning of a few songs. Before "Ain't That Just Like Me", Graham Nash playfully whispers "Bastard!" to Hollies producer Ron Richards under his breath, and Richards retorts back "I heard that!" The intro to "Yes I Will" contains an exchange where Tony Hicks complains about a microphone stand being placed too low, to be told by Nash to "sit on a chair, then!"
  • Market-Based Title: Most of their albums were retitled in their US editions with whatever their distributor felt was the most popular song on that album. The most blatant offender was Butterfly, issued in the US as Dear Eloise/King Midas In Reverse.
  • Mood Whiplash: "Dear Eloise" alternates between a slow, melodious beginning and end and a rocked-up interlude between.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: The bass tended to be mixed very low in the Hollies' recordings. According to producer Ron Richards, this was because he didn't consider Bernie Calvert a very good bass player.
  • Non-Appearing Title: Confessions Of The Mind alone contains three of them: "Survival Of The Fittest", "Confessions Of A Mind", and "Separated". "I Wanna Shout" is an example also, depending on which version you come across. Some pressings list the title as "We Wanna Shout", which is the actual sung phrase.
    • Other examples include "Crusader", "Lullaby To Tim", "Ye Olde Toffee Shoppe", "Postcard", "Elevated Observations", "Soldier's Dilemma", "Marigold Gloria Swansong", "Lizzie And The Rainman", "Rubber Lucy", "The Day That Curly Billy Shot Down Crazy Sam McGee", "Mexico Gold", "Hello Lady Goodbye" and "Soldier's Song".
  • Not Staying for Breakfast: Happens to the singer in "Hello Lady Goodbye" when a long-term girlfriend breaks up with him this way, even going so far as to clean her clothes out of the closet and taking her favourite chair with her. The guy tries to get over it by having a one night stand with a woman he meets in a bar, then realizes he's found love again when the woman he took home with him last night is still there in the morning.
  • Record Producer: Ron Richards was The Hollies' George Martin.
  • Self-Titled Album: They had two separate albums called Hollies, released in 1965 and 1974. The latter is often referred to as Hollies '74 to avoid confusion. The 1979 album 5317704 also counts, since in 7-segment font this spells "hOLLIES" upside-down, and the album art reflects this.
  • Something Something Leonard Bernstein: It takes several listens to decipher all the lyrics to "Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)".
  • Statuesque Stunner: "Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)".
  • Step Up to the Microphone: During Graham Nash's days in the band, he usually sang a few songs on each album. Other band members would also get the occasional lead vocal. Terry Sylvester usually sang one or two songs per album, and Tony Hicks sang lead vocals on "Pegasus", "Look At Life", and "Born A Man", as well as co-lead vocals on "Carrie Anne".
  • Umbrella of Togetherness: "Bus Stop".
  • Vocal Tag Team: In the early days, Allan Clarke and Graham Nash would sometimes trade off lead vocals. For an example within a single song, "Carrie Anne" features Nash, Tony Hicks, and Clarke each singing different parts of the song.
    • "Slow Down, Go Down" features Mikael Rickfors singing the chorus and Terry Sylvester singing the verses.