RENOWNED for their unmistakable three-way harmonies, The Hollies can still pack a venue after more than 50 years.
The famous group is back in Australia next month with its The Road is Long tour and the down-under visit can’t come soon enough for iconic drummer Bobby Elliott who spoke to The Senior about life, touring and six decades in the spotlight.
“We’re excited about coming to Oz. We love touring, it’s in our blood. The guys I work with and the crew we’re like family. It’s the greatest fun,” said Bobby who hasn’t lost any of his north of England accent.
The Hollies is unquestionably one of the greatest pop groups to emerge from the 1960’s British rock revolution. From 1963 to the mid ‘70s the band had more hits (18 top ten) than even the Beatles.
In 1963 the world was changing from black and white into technicolour and five working-class northern lads with a unique sound catapulted to fame.
On new years day 1964 The Hollies appeared on the BBC’s very first Top of the Pops along with the Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield and The Beatles.
“We started making records in ‘63 and touring and we’ve toured every single year. We’ve never gone away. People have left the band, we’ve had one or two changes but The Hollies has never stopped touring,” said Bobby.
Noted for their sublime treatments of some of the best-loved songs ever: The Air That I Breathe, Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress), Bus Stop, I'm Alive, Carrie Anne, Jennifer Eccles, Too Young To Be Married, Stop Stop Stop, On A Carousel, the soul-stirring He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother, the band still knows what the audience is craving and gives it in spades.
And at 78, Bobby can still wield the sticks night after night with the best of them.
“It’s exhausting, it’s a challenge, and I know that sometimes when you’ve been away from home for three weeks or longer you think, ‘yes I’d like to get back and maybe mow the lawn or do something ordinary’. But I suppose it’s like a drug, you don’t want to give it up,” said Bobby.
“At the end of the evening we finish with He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother, The Air That I Breathe and Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress and the audience are up on their feet and we take that final bow and it’s a wonderful feeling. You feed off the elation, you can’t buy that feeling.”
The Hollies have never lost their popularity with those who can still remember the ‘swinging sixties’, and now have a new younger generation of followers keen to discover what was so special about the British sound.
It’s a full-on performance with the band doing two hours on stage with a 15 minute half-time interval. Bobby points out that in their younger years they would only play for about 45 minutes.
“I suppose that it’s really the wrong way round – we should be playing shorter as we get older. But it’s such a great experience.”
The band is Tony Hicks and Bobby Elliott (who are the driving forces behind the group), bassist and singer, Ray Stiles, formerly with Mud who has been with the group for 30 years, keyboardist Ian Parker, Chuck Berry, guitarist/singer Steve Lauri and lead vocalist, Peter Howarth.
- The Hollies will play the Crown Theatre, Perth on February 16, the Festival Theatre, Adelaide, February 17, the State Theatre, Sydney, February 19, Hamer Hall, Melbourne February 20, The Star, Gold Coast February 21, QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane, February 22.