"He Ain't Heavy... He's My Brother" is a popular music ballad written by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell. Originally recorded by Kelly Gordon in 1969, the song became a worldwide hit for The Hollies later that year and again for Neil Diamond in 1970. It has been covered by many artists in subsequent years.
Origin of the song 
Scott and Russell had been introduced to each other by Johnny Mercer, at a California nightclub. Despite the fact that Russell was dying of cancer of the lymph nodes and that the pair met in person only three times, they managed to collaborate on the song. The publishing rights to the song were the subject of a legal battle following Russell's death.
Origin of the title 
The first editor of Kiwanis magazine, Roe Fulkerson, published a column in September 1924 carrying the title "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother"; variations on the phrase are attested as early as 1884. The phrase is also associated with Father Edward J. Flanagan, the founder of Boys Town. Flanagan came across a line drawing of a young boy carrying his brother in the Christmas 1941 edition of the Louis Allis Messenger. The caption read "He ain't heavy Mister—he's m' brother!" It was created by Mr. Van B. Hooper who later became the editor of Ideals. The drawing was reprinted in the first issue of Ideals in December 1944. Flanagan felt that the drawing illustrated the work done at Boys Town and received permission from the company in August 1943 to recreate the drawing in color with the caption "He ain't heavy, Father . . . he's m' brother." The phrase became the motto of Boys Town.
In an 1918 publication by Ralph Waldo Trine titled "The Higher Powers of Mind and Spirit" he relates the following anecdote: "Do you know that incident in connection with the little Scottish girl? She was trudging along, carrying as best she could a boy younger, but it seemed almost as big as she herself, when one remarked to her how heavy he must be for her to carry, when instantly came the reply: 'He's na heavy. He's mi brither.'"
It was also reported through the media of the time that the song was written by a Vietnam veteran. He and his company were approaching a town after it had been bombed. A little boy was carrying the dead body of a younger boy away from the burning village. One of the soldiers asked the boy if the dead child was heavy. The child responded, "He's not heavy, he's my brother."
The statement is a use of paraprosdokian, a figure of speech in which the second half of the statement causes the hearer to reinterpret the first part. Often used for comedic effect, this is a rare use of the form as pathos.
Chart performance 
The Hollies' recording, which featured Elton John on piano, was released in the UK on 1 September 1969 and on 1 December 1969 in the US. "He Ain't Heavy" reached #3 in the UK and #7 in the US. The song, paired with "Carrie", was re-released in late 1988 in the UK following its use in a television advertisement for Miller Lite beer. It reached the #1 spot in the UK chart for two weeks in September 1988.
Neil Diamond's version of the song, recorded for his Tap Root Manuscript album, went to #20 on the Billboard "Hot 100 Singles" chart in late 1970.
Neil Diamond version 
The Neil Diamond version was released as a single on 7 November 1970  (UNI Records, 55264, length 2:47). The flip side was "Free Life". The song appears on the Neil Diamond album "Tap Root Manuscript", which was released 21 November 1970. The song was played by KGB-AM radio, San Diego, California, in late 1970, prior to the then-new Walk for Mankind, in dedication to those who would be walking for donations that day.
The Justice Collective version 
In 2012, a version of the song was recorded, and was released on December 17, 2012, by musicians and celebrities going under the name The Justice Collective, including Melanie C, Robbie Williams, Paul Heaton, Paloma Faith, Paul McCartney, Gerry Marsden, Kenny Dalglish, Alan Hansen, Rebecca Ferguson and Beverley Knight for various charities associated with the Hillsborough disaster. The song went on to take the coveted Christmas number one position for 2012 on the UK Singles Chart., beating The X Factor winner James Arthur, who was number one the previous week, and a host of social network campaigns supporting novelty acts such as Eddie Stobart Truckers and the One Pound Fish Man. The single gave Melanie C her twelfth number-one hit on the UK Singles Chart, making her the only female artist to reach number one in a quintet, quartet, duo, solo and ensemble.
After the News International phone hacking scandal, members of The Farm along with Pete Wylie and Mick Jones of The Clash performed at an anti-The Sun concert at the Liverpool Olympia in September 2011. Following this they formed The Justice Tonight Band and toured the United Kingdom and Europe for the next year in order to raise awareness of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign.
Initially, the idea was to re-release the 2009 single "The Fields of Anfield Road" by The Liverpool Collective featuring The Kop Choir; however, this idea was rejected by Peter Hooton as only a relatively small number of people would buy it. Inspired by Everton's Hillsborough tribute on 17 September 2012, the song was played at Goodison Park prior to their match against Newcastle United. It was then decided that a re-recording of this song by various artists including The Justice Tonight Band would be released as the charity single.
Keith Mullen of The Farm recruited Guy Chambers to produce the single and with Chambers offering free use of his Sleeper Studios to record the song. On 25 October, Steve Rotheram, Guy Chambers and Kenny Dalglish announced plans of the single to be recorded by various artists such as Robbie Williams, Rebecca Ferguson, Paloma Faith, Beverley Knight, Melanie Chisholm, Holly Johnson, Mick Jones, Peter Hooton, Chris Sharrock, Glen Tilbrook, Ren Harvieu, Dave McCabe, Paul Heaton, Hollie Cook, Jon McClure, John Power and Gerry Marsden released under the name The Justice Collective.
- Guy Chambers – producer
- Richard Flack – producer, engineer
- Oliver Som – engineer
- Liam Nolan – engineer
- Chris Taylor – engineer
- Jon Withnall – engineer
- Tony Draper – engineer
- Alec Brits – engineer
Per Gessle version 
In March 2013, Per Gessle (guitarist and vocalist of the Swedish pop duo Roxette) released a version of this song on the soundtrack of "Small Apartments", movie directed by Jonas Åkerlund.
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- ^ Epic Records 5-10532 45 RPM
- ^ The parables of Jesus. Books.google.com. 10 September 2010. Retrieved 2012-01-18.
- ^ "UK Top 40 Chart Archive, British Singles and Album Charts". EveryHit.com. 16 March 2000. Retrieved 2012-01-18.
- ^ "Hollies, The – He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother – Austriancharts.at" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Hung Medien.
- ^ "RPM 100" (PHP). RPM 13 (5). 21 March 1970. Retrieved 24 May 2011.
- ^ "RPM Adult" (PHP). RPM 12 (26). 14 February 1970. Retrieved 24 May 2011.
- ^ "Die ganze Musik im Internet: Charts, News, Neuerscheinungen, Tickets, Genres, Genresuche, Genrelexikon, Künstler-Suche, Musik-Suche, Track-Suche, Ticket-Suche – musicline.de" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
- ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – The Hollies – He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" (in Dutch). Mega Single Top 100. Hung Medien / hitparade.ch.
- ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – The Hollies – He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother". VG-lista. Hung Medien.
- ^ "Hollies, The – He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother – swisscharts.com". Swiss Singles Chart. Hung Medien.
- ^ "Archive Chart" UK Singles Chart. Official Charts Company.
- ^ "The Hollies Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot 100 for The Hollies. Prometheus Global Media.
- ^ a b "I Am...I Said, A Fan of Neil Diamond". Iaisnd.com. Retrieved 2012-01-18.
- ^ "Neil Diamond - He Ain't Heavy ... He's My Brother (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2012-01-18.
- ^ "Paul McCartney guests on Hillsborough charity single with Robbie Williams". Guardian UK. 23 November 2012. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
- ^ "Hillsborough charity single featuring Paul McCartney and Robbie Williams is tipped for Christmas No 1". Daily Telegraph UK. 23 November 2012. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
- ^ a b c "Interview With Keith Mullin | Players | Interviews". Blue Kipper. 2012-12-08. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
- ^ a b c Name (required) (2012-11-22). "Listen To ….. & Order ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’ By The Justice Collective | great red north (LiverpoolFC.ca)". Greatrednorth.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
- ^ "Chart Track". Irish Singles Chart. Irish Recorded Music Association.
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- ^ "Archive Chart". Scottish Singles Top 40. Official Charts Company.
- ^ "Promusicae (Week: December 26, 2012)". Retrieved December 26, 2011.
- ^ "Archive Chart" UK Indie Chart. Official Charts Company.
- ^ "Archive Chart" UK Singles Chart. Official Charts Company.
- ^ "Top 100 Singles of 2012". BBC Radio 1. BBC Online. 31 December 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
External links 
|UK and US
- "(Ain't That) Just Like Me" / "Hey What's Wrong With Me"
- "Searchin'" / "Whole World Over"
- "If I Needed Someone" / "I've Got a Way of My Own"
- "Son of a Rotten Gambler" / "Layin' to the Music"
- "Boulder to Birmingham" / "Crocodile Woman (She Bites)"
- "Star" / "Love is the Thing"
- "Daddy Don't Mind" / "C'Mon"
- "Wiggle That Whotsit" / "Corrine"
- "Hello to Romance" / "48 Hour Parole"
- "Amnesty" / "Crossfire"
- "Something to Live For" / "Song of the Sun"
- "Soldier's Song" / "Draggin' My Heels"
- "Heartbeat" / "Take Your Time (new version)"
- "Holliedaze (A Medley)" / "Holliepops (A Medley)"
- "Take My Love and Run" / "Driver"
- "Too Many Hearts Get Broken" / "You're All Woman"
- "This Is It" / "You Gave Me Strength"
- "Reunion of the Heart" / "Too Many Hearts Get Broken"
- "Find Me a Family" / "No Rules"
- "The Woman I Love" / "Purple Rain (Live Version)"
- "Hope" / "Shine On Me"
- "Pay You Back With Interest" / "Whatcha Gonna Do 'Bout It"
- "Just One Look" / "Running Through the Night"
- "Dear Eloise" / "When Your Light's Turned On"
- "If I Needed Someone" / "Yes I Will"
- "Do the Best You Can" / "Elevated Observations"
- "Survival of the Fittest" / "Man Without a Heart"
- "Long Dark Road" / "Indian Girl"
- "Jesus Was a Crossmaker" / "I Had a Dream"
- "Slow Down" / "Won't We Feel Good"
- "Don't Let Me Down" / "Layin' to the Music"
- "Another Night" / "Time Machine Jive"
- "Write On" / "Crocodile Woman (She Bites)"
- "Draggin' My Heels" / "I Won't Move Over"
- "Writing on the Wall" / "Burn Out"
- "If the Lights Go Out" / "Someone Else's Eyes"
- "Casualty" / "Someone Else's Eyes"
- "Non Prego Per Me" / "Devi Avere Fiducia in Me"
- "Kill Me Quick" / "We're Alive"