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Allan Clarke

Allan Clarke

Allan Clarke (born 5 April 1942 in Salford, Lancashire, England) was one of the founding members of The Hollies. He and his childhood friend, Graham Nash, began singing together in Manchester while still at school, recruiting Eric Haydock (bass) and Don Rathbone (drums) (replaced by Bobby Elliott in 1963), to become the Fourtones in 1961 and then the Deltas in 1962. In 1963, they added Tony Hicks (guitar), and became the Hollies. Clarke was their lead vocalist, but also played occasional guitar and harmonica. In the UK they enjoyed 29 chart singles, 17 of which made the Top 10, with two - "I'm Alive" (1965) and "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" (re-issue) - reaching No. 1, the latter on re-release; it had originally been a top three hit in 1969. In the US charts they achieved 23 chart singles, six of which hit the Top 10. Many of the groups songs were co-written by Clarke, usually with Hicks and Nash until the latters departure at the end of 1968.

Keen to launch a solo career, Clarke left the group in 1971, and was replaced by Swedish singer Mikael Rickfors, formerly with Bamboo. He made three albums on his own "My Real Name Is 'arold" (1972), "Headroom" (1973), and "Allan Clarke" (1974). Ironically, after leaving the Hollies, "Long Cool Woman In a Black Dress", a song from their 1970 album Distant Light, which he had co-written with well-respected hit songwriters Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway, and played lead guitar on, became an international hit, reaching No. 2 in the US (their most successful single ever there) and No. 32 in the UK.

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 Crazy Billy Shot Down Curly Sam McGee", a Top 30 hit that autumn. This song was one of several including "Perfect Lady Housewife", which was included on The Hollies album of 1970 "Confessions of the Mind", which were originally written for a musical. The music was to be written by The Hollies while the lyrics were to be written by Allan Clarke's brother in law, J. Bowstead. Clarke continued to record and release solo albums, the next being "I've Got Time" (1976), but never enjoyed any chart success with albums or singles. He left the group a second time in March 1978 and made "I Wasn't Born Yesterday" (1978), but returned in August. Subsequent solo albums included "Legendary Heroes" (1979) and "The Only One" (1980).

By this time the Hollies' chart career was almost over, their remarkable run of smash singles culminating in "The Air That I Breathe", No. 2 in 1974, and followed by a long run of failures. Nevertheless he continued to front them through several more years of much-acclaimed concert tours throughout the world.

One of the first acts in Britain to champion the work of Bruce Springsteen, he recorded cover versions of "Born to Run" and "Blinded by the Light", though the majority of his solo performances were his own compositions.

He retired from the music business in 1999 and was replaced in the group by Carl Wayne, former vocalist with The Move.

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