Allan Clarke (singer)

Harold Allan Clarke (born 5 April 1942, Salford, Lancashire, England) is an English pop rock singer, who was one of the founding members and the original lead singer of the Hollies. With the Hollies, Clarke achieved international hit singles and is credited as co-writer on several of the band's best known songs including "On a Carousel", "Carrie Anne", "Jennifer Eccles" and "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress". He retired from performing in 1999, but returned to the music industry in 2019. Clarke was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.

Allan Clarke
Clarke on TopPop in 1974.
Clarke on TopPop in 1974.
Background information
Birth nameHarold Allan Clarke
Born (1942-04-05) 5 April 1942 (age 78)
OriginSalford, Lancashire, England
GenresRock, soft rock
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, harmonica
Years active1958–1999, 2011, 2019–present
Associated actsThe Hollies


Harold Allan Clarke and his childhood friend, Graham Nash, began singing together in Manchester while still at school. They formed the Hollies in December 1962 with Vic Steele (lead guitar) and Eric Haydock (bass guitar). In April 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 bass guitarist. Clarke was The Hollies' original lead singer, 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 Nash and Hicks, until Nash's departure at the end of 1968. They used the pseudonym "L. Ransford" initially for their song-writing credits, then 'Clarke-Nash-Hicks' from mid-1966 onwards. In 1966, Clarke, along with several Hollies bandmates, 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-Nash-Hicks 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 singer on Hollies Sing Dylan (a UK No. 3 album in early 1969).[1]

Clarke has sole credit for songs such as "My Life Is Over With You", "Goodbye Tomorrow", "Not That Way at All", "Marigold" (1969), "Mad Professor Blyth", "Separated" (1970), "Row the Boat Together" and "Hold On" (1971).

Also, Clarke 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).

Departure from and return to the HolliesEdit

Keen to launch a solo career due to Nash's success in Crosby, Stills & Nash, Clarke 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 lead vocals on "Breakdown" by The Alan Parsons Project, from their 1977 album I Robot. 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 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 (1980), another largely original set, with its UK title and track running order changed to The Only One. He followed with a Best of... compilation (Aura, 1981). His final solo album of the last century 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.

1993 saw Clarke's final chart success with the Hollies with the Nik Kershaw penned single, "The Woman I Love", charting in the UK at No. 42.[1]

In 1996, 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.

Temporary retirementEdit

Due in part to ongoing medical problems with his vocal cords, Clarke retired from the music industry in 1999 to care for his wife, who had received a second diagnosis of cancer.[2] Clarke 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 Graham Nash, Tony Hicks, Eric Haydock, Bobby Elliott, Terry Sylvester and Bernie Calvert, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.[3] 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".

Having appeared on harmonica for Carla Olson's band The Textones in 2018,[4] Clarke made a return to his solo career in 2019 with a new album, Resurgence, on BMG.[2]

Personal lifeEdit

Clarke married Jennifer Bowstead on 24 March 1964 in Coventry. They have three children - Timothy (b. 1966), Toby (b. 1969) and Piper (b. 1972). The Hollies' song title "Jennifer Eccles" was a combination of the names of Clarke's wife and Graham Nash's then-wife, Rose Eccles.


See also The Hollies discography

Solo albumsEdit

  • My Real Name Is 'Arold (1972)
  • Headroom (1973)
  • Allan Clarke (1974)
  • I've Got Time (1976)
  • I Wasn't Born Yesterday (1978)
  • The Only One (a.k.a. Legendary Heroes) (1979)
  • Reasons to Believe (1990)
  • Resurgence (2019)



  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. ^ a b Malvern, Jack. "Hollies star Allan Clarke wins a deal at 77 using music app". The Times. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  3. ^ "The Hollies". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 2010. Retrieved 13 March 2010.
  4. ^ "Blue Élan Records is Proud to Announce the Signing of the Textones New Album – Featuring All Original Members "Old Stone Gang" Set For Release September 21, 2018". 10 July 2018. Retrieved 17 April 2019.

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