Allan Clarke (singer)

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Allan Clarke
Allan Clarke - TopPop 1974 4.png
Background information
Birth name Harold Allan Clarke
Born (1942-04-05) 5 April 1942 (age 73)
Origin Salford, Lancashire, England
Genres Rock, Soft rock
Occupation(s) musician
Instruments Vocals, guitar, harmonica
Years active 1958–1999, 2011
Associated acts The Hollies

Harold Allan Clarke (5 April 1942, Salford, Lancashire, England) is a retired English rock singer, who was one of the founding members and the original lead singer of The Hollies. He retired from performing in 1999.


Clarke and his childhood friend, Graham Nash, began singing together in Manchester while still at school. They formed The Hollies in December of 1962 with Vic Steele (lead guitar) and Eric Haydock (bass guitar). In April of 1963, they added Tony Hicks (replacing Steele on lead guitar) and Bobby Elliott (replacing Don Rathbone on drums). In 1966, Bernie Calvert replaced Haydock as bassist. Clarke was their lead vocalist, but also played occasional guitar and harmonica. In the UK, they enjoyed 30 chart singles, plus two further chart entries with re-releases, 17 of which made the Top 10, with two – "I'm Alive" (1965) and "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" (1988 re-issue) – reaching No. 1.[1]

In the US charts they achieved 23 chart singles, six of which hit the Top 10. Many of the group's songs were co-written by Clarke, usually with Hicks and Nash, until the latter's departure at the end of 1968. They used the pseudonym "L. Ransford" initially for their song-writing credits, then 'Clarke-Hicks-Nash' from mid-1966 onwards. In 1966, Clarke, along with several Hollies band mates, assisted in The Everly Brothers recording of their album, Two Yanks in England, which featured Everly cover versions of mostly Hollies songs co-written by Clarke.

Clarke-Hicks-Nash composed The Hollies albums: For Certain Because (1966), Evolution, and Butterfly (both 1967). Their UK hit singles compilation The Hollies' Greatest Hits topped the UK Albums Chart in August 1968.[1]

After 1967, Clarke began writing solo songs under the team banner, notably: "Lullaby To Tim" (dedicated to his son, though sung by Nash), "Heading for a Fall", "Water on The Brain", and "Would You Believe". Besides the full composing team, Clarke also wrote songs with Nash such as "Try It", "Wishyouawish" (1967), "Tomorrow When it Comes", "Jennifer Eccles" and "Wings" (1968). Clarke assumed more of a figurehead profile as front man of the Hollies following Graham Nash's departure from the group in December 1968. Clarke was the sole lead vocalist on Hollies Sing Dylan (a UK No. 3 album in early 1969).[1]

Clarke's own songs such as: "My Life is Over With You", "Goodbye Tomorrow", "Not That Way at All", "Marigold" (1969), "Mad Professor Blyth", "Separated" (1970) plus "Row The Boat Together" and "Hold On" (1971) were credited solely to him. Clarke also helped Nash's replacement, Terry Sylvester, develop as a songwriter,[citation needed] teaming with him to write a number of songs including "Gloria Swansong", "Look at Life" (1969) "I Wanna Shout", "Man Without A Heart" and "Perfect Lady Housewife" (1970).

Keen to launch a solo career due to Nash's success in CSN, Clarke unexpectedly left the group in 1971. He was replaced by the Swedish singer Mikael Rickfors, who was formerly with Bamboo. Clarke went on to release two solo albums – My Real Name Is 'Arold (Epic, 1972) and Headroom (EMI, 1973).

After Clarke left the Hollies, "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress", a song from their 1971 album Distant Light, which he had co-written with songwriters Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway, and on which Clarke sang lead and played lead guitar, became an international hit single, reaching No. 2 in the US (their most successful single ever there) and No. 32 in the UK Singles Chart. However, the Hollies toured with Nash's replacement, Sylvester, who assumed the lead vocal on performance of the single instead of Clarke. Rickfors left the group and Clarke rejoined them in July 1973. Their first single with him back in the fold was another of his songs, "The Day that Curly Billy Shot Down Crazy Sam McGee," a UK Top 40 hit that autumn.[1]

Clarke continued to record and release solo albums while remaining with The Hollies, although his solo career did not achieve much album or single chart success. He released his self-titled third album in 1974. His next album was I've Got Time (1976). He also performed guest vocals on the 1977 album I Robot by The Alan Parsons Project (most notably, lead vocals on the FM-hit "Breakdown"). He left The Hollies briefly for the second time in March 1978 and made I Wasn't Born Yesterday (1978), an album of original material mostly written by Clarke with singer-songwriter Gary Benson. It yielded a US chart hit single in "(I Will Be Your) Shadow in the Street". He returned to the group in August. Subsequent solo albums included Legendary Heroes (1979), another largely original set, with its UK title and track running order changed to The Only One when released in 1980. He followed with a Best of... compilation (Aura, 1981). His final solo album was Reasons To Believe (1990) issued in Germany on Polydor Records, which remains unreleased in the US and UK.

Between 1974 and 1978, Clarke composed most of the original songs The Hollies recorded on a series of studio albums with Tony Hicks and Terry Sylvester.

In 1982, Clarke issued a rare non-album single, "Someone Else Will" c/w "Castles in the Wind" on Forever Records; however the song failed to chart. Clarke recorded cover versions of Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run", "Blinded by the Light" and "If I Were The Priest". In this period, Clarke also used material by Lindsey Buckingham, Janis Ian, Gavin Sutherland, and Randy Newman.

In 1993, Clarke, with The Hollies and Graham Nash, contributed harmony and support vocals to a new version of "Peggy Sue Got Married," featuring lead vocals by Buddy Holly, which was credited as 'Buddy Holly and The Hollies'. It appeared on the Not Fade Away tribute album. That year also saw Clarke's final recording with The Hollies, "The Woman I Love", charting in the UK at No. 42.[1]

Due in part to ongoing medical problems with his vocal cords, Clarke retired from the music industry in 1999, and was replaced in the band by Carl Wayne, former lead singer of The Move. Wayne died in 2004. The Hollies continue touring and recording today with Peter Howarth as their vocalist.

On 15 March 2010 Clarke, with fellow Hollies members, Terry Sylvester, Graham Nash, Tony Hicks, Bobby Elliott, Bernie Calvert and Eric Haydock, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.[2] In 2011, Clarke made a surprise appearance at a Crosby & Nash concert at the Royal Albert Hall where the two former Hollies performed "Bus Stop".


  1. ^ a b c d e Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 255. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  2. ^ "The Hollies". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 2010. Retrieved 13 March 2010. 

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