The Hollies

Biography

The long-running and mightily adaptable Hollies are one of the most beloved bands to have emerged from the British beat-group boom that remade pop and rock in the first half of the 1960s. Though less of a songwriting force than The Beatles -- a stance that would figure into founding member Graham Nash's eventual decision to leave and throw in his lot with David Crosby and Stephen Stills -- the Hollies produced many grand singles and a number of albums that are deeply treasured by connoisseurs of the era.

The Manchester-bred quintet's early U.K. hits were watery versions of American R&B discs such as Maurice Williams and the Zodiac's "Stay" and Doris Troy's "Just One Look." When they began melding their vocal harmonies with more thumping band sounds and songs that better reflected their distinctly English sensibility, the Hollies' records became something truly special. Writer-for-hire Graham Gouldman (who also gave "Heart Full of Soul" to the Yardbirds and later became a focal point of 10cc) provided unstoppable smashes like "Bus Stop" and "Look Through Any Window," which snugly fit in the band's repertoire alongside originals such as "Carrie Anne" and "Pay You Back With Interest."

The Hollies' slightly fey quality perfectly fit the psychedelic-influenced pop of 1967, and they made one of the most timeless singles of that genre with "King Midas in Reverse." Nash was unhappy to see it stall at No. 18 in Britain, however, and was further disillusioned when the group rejected his "Marrakesh Express." Upon his departure, the Hollies recruited Terry Sylvester and went on to some of their biggest American successes. They introduced "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother," a standard on the talk show and Vegas circuits, and later hit with the 180-degree turnaround of "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress," which repackaged Creedence's "Travelin' Band" into an anthem with an incomprehensible vocal. Their final big U.S. hit came two years later with 1974's "The Air That I Breathe," another big ballad that proved hard for listeners to resist. Personnel changes continued, with singer Allan Clarke notably in and out in the mid-'70s. Nash rejoined for one album, What Comes Around, in 1983; past glories, though, were hard to regain. Clarke retired in the '90s, to be replaced by Move singer Carl Wayne, who died in 2004. Though now a hobbling concern, the Hollies will forever be remembered by hardcore fans and casual admirers as the makers of a high stack of rock 'n' roll classics.
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