Interview with The Hollies ahead of concert at Buxton Opera House

The Hollies
The Hollies

Longevity in the music business is a rare commodity, very few pop bands last more than five years; some last by splitting up and then reforming (sometimes more than once).

Longevity in the music business is a rare commodity, very few pop bands last more than five years; some last by splitting up and then reforming (sometimes more than once).

But there is a band celebrating over 50 years of music making, and in all that time they have never split up, and two of the band who were there at the start are still there.

I’m talking of course about The Hollies, who are undertaking a UK tour, which includes a date in Buxton next week, to celebrate their massive catalogue of hits.

Getting together around Christmas time 1962, they enjoyed a long string of hits.

No less than 30 hits including such classics as The Air That I Breathe, I’m Alive (their first number one), We’re Through and The Woman I Love, make up their highly impressive repertoire.

“We’d get lynched if we didn’t do the hits, but what’s gratifying is that we’re now getting requests to perform some of the newer songs”

Bobby Elliott

Their most famous hit is the 1969 number two He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother, which became their second chart topper when it was re-released in 1988.

As well as their hit singles, the band produced a number of highly acclaimed albums including their renditions of Bob Dylan songs and an album of Buddy Holly covers (it has been suggested that the name of the band came from the high regard that founder members Allan Clarke and Graham Nash had for Holly).

By the autumn of 1963 Clarke and Nash had been joined by Tony Hicks on guitars, Eric Haydock on bass and Bobby Elliott on drums.

Hicks and Elliott still steer the ship today, superbly complemented by bassist Ray Stiles (ex-Mud), who has been in the band since 1988; Ian Parker on keyboards, who joined in 1990, and Peter Howarth on vocals and Steve Lauri on guitar, who joined the band in 2004.

Much of The Hollies success came from the Clarke, Hicks, Nash partnership, who not only wrote many of the hits, but supplied the band’s trademark three-part harmony (now it’s Hicks, Howarth and Lauri).

Bobby Elliott is confident that the band can continue to ply their musical trade, long after the 50th year.

“Everything is good in Hollieland at the moment,” he tells me.

The band has a very hectic touring schedule which takes them all over the world.

“We’re very popular on the continent and ‘down under’, he said.

The show itself promises to be a hit-fest, as Bobby explains. “We’d get lynched if we didn’t do the hits, but what’s gratifying is that we’re now getting requests to perform some of the newer songs from the recent ‘Staying Power’ and ‘Then, Now, Always’ albums.

“We don’t want to get too clever, you don’t change a winning formula.

“We’ve been blessed with the quality of the songs, plus we’ve had so many hits we can go on stage and do a full two and a half hours,” he added.

The Hollies bring their unsurpassed repertoire of timeless music to Buxton Opera House, Buxton on April 9. Tickets £26.50 and £29.50.