THE HOLLIES ARE FROM MANCHESTER—everyone knows that, right? Hah! I bumped into a young couple at the Bellevue Transit Center. Handsome young man with a very pretty girl. Both in their mid 20s, both spick-and-spanned and nicely attired. When we exchanged “Hellos” I heard the accent and asked them from which part of England they hailed.
“Manchester!” he said.
“Ah,” said I. “The home of the Holies.”
“What?” said she.
“The Hollies—they’re from Manchester,” I responded, wondering what was going on.
They looked at each other and then at me.
“Um, you don’t know who the Hollies are?” I asked.
“No,” came from both of them.
“Wait! I know,” I came back. “Howzabout Crosby, Stills & Nash?”
“Um, nope,” the handsome young man said.
“You know,” I came back. “Suite Judy Blues Eyes? Teach Your Children? Four dead in Ohio?”
“Uh, sorry,” the very pretty girl said.
Without thinking I blurted out, “You don’t know who Crosby, Stills & Nash are?!!?”
And then realized that I was insulting them.
So I changed the subject: “Off to Seattle?”
“Make sure you see the Pike Place Market.”
“Oh yeah. We intend to!”
“Make sure you sample the smoked salmon.”
“When are you going back?”
“Oh well, then I won’t recommend anything else.”
And so I met two obviously intelligent people from Manchester who knew neither the Hollies nor CS&N and probably didn’t give a whit’s behind!
As someone once famous once said, “La-de-da.”
The ‘Ollies 1964: standing from left to right are Allan Clarke, Bobby Elliott, and Eric Haydock; seated are Graham Nash and Tony Hicks. Lets see, aside from those fabgear Beatleboots (Hollieboots?), what stands out for me is the ghastliness of the floral-print wallpaper against the black-and-white checkerboard floor. Ouch!
Look through any window yeah!
In early 1962, Allan Clarke and Graham Nash, both from Manchester, were performing as an Everly Brothers-inspired vocal/guitar duo called Ricky and Dane Young. Eventually, they were joined by local musicians Vic Steele (lead guitar), Eric Haydock (bass), and Don Rathbone (drums). By September, they were billing themselves as the Hollies.
We have kids under thirty come in here who don’t even listen to music. They don’t even know who their peers are listening to, let alone someone from forty years ago!
In January 1963, they performed at the Cavern Club, where the Beatles were showing off the skills that they had honed in Hamburg. The Hollies were seen by Parlophone Records’ Ron Richards (who had produced the hit version of the Beatles’ first single Love Me Do), who offered them an audition.
Steele did not want to be a professional musician at that time (he would later) and left the band. For the audition, they replaced him with Tony Hicks and got the contract.
Hicks hailed from a band that had been gigging in Manchester called the Dolphins, which also featured future Hollies drummer Bobby Elliott (he joined in mid 1963) and bassist Bernie Calvert (1966). The rest is history—at least it’s history if young people learn it and carry it on past the lives of those who lived it . . .
The Hollies’ early recordings did not get a lot of airplay on the radio stations of Northeastern Pennsylvania in 1964-65. The first Hollies record of that hit big in Northeastern Pennsylvania was Look Through Any Window, a record that I fell in love with on first hearing!
Needless to say, I ran out and bought the 45 as soon as I could and it remains one of my all-time faveravers of the ’60s. This video features the Hollies on the Hullabaloo television show lip-synching to that record.
Note three things: 1) Mr. Avalon’s near complete lack of ‘screen presence’; 2) the size of the five Hollies: each weighs in at around 140 pounds; and 3) the British lads are introduced as a team surrounded by props taken from American football, not the football that they would have played back home (or anywhere else in the world then). In fact, it’s possible that not a one of the Hollies had ever seen an American game of football at the time of this filming . . .
You can see the little children all around
Later that day, I stopped in Half Price Books at the Crossroads in Bellevue. The youngish guy—youngish to me, anyway, and who I refer to as the Deadhead-wannabe behind his back—was at the cash register, friendly as ever.
I recounted the above story about the couple from Manchester not knowing the Hollies or CS&N with my usual incredulousness in the face of such events.
The first Hollies record of that hit big in my hometown was Look Through Any Window, a record that I fell in love with on first hearing.
“That’s nothing,” he replied. “We have kids under thirty come in here who don’t even listen to music. Not ever! They don’t even know who their peers are listening to, let alone someone from forty years ago!”
We then discussed such things as the less-than-endearing music that has dominated the tastes of several post-’70s generations of rock and pop music listeners and listening to any music let alone bad music on handheld players with teensyweensy ear-plugs. Hell’s Belles, WHO’S NEXT would sound bad on those!
FEATURED IMAGE: Bobby Elliott, Graham Nash, Allan Clarke, Tony Hicks, and Bernie Calvert. This striking photo was used for the cover of the 1966 album FOR CERTAIN BECAUSE (although in color), which was issued in America as STOP! STOP! STOP! with a different cover photo.
PS: This article was originally published in 2014 as “The Hollies Are from Manchester, England—Aren’t They?” But I needed to make editorial and technical changes, so I’ve reposted it with a new title.