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That was fun! I LOVE twofers! Let’s head on over to House #H on Memory Lane. Why look! It’s a recording studio! And you thought you’d only see HOUSES of favorite musicians on this walking tour… Let’s go see who is making music today, shall we? Well I’ll be! It’s two of my favorite groups — The Hollies and the Bee Gees!
The Hollies are an English pop/rock group best known for their pioneering and distinctive three-part vocal harmony style. They became one of the leading British groups of the 1960’s (231 weeks on the UK singles charts during the 1960’s, the 9th highest of any artist of the decade) and into the mid 1970’s. The group was formed by Allan Clarke and Graham Nash in 1962 as a Merseybeat-type music group in Manchester, although some of the band members came from towns north of there. Graham Nash left the group in 1968 to form the supergroup Crosby, Stills & Nash. (Wow! These guys really get around!)
They enjoyed considerable popularity in many countries (at least 60 singles or EPs and 26 albums charting somewhere in the world, spanning over five decades), although they did not achieve major US chart success until 1966 with “Bus Stop”. The Hollies had over 30 charting singles on the UK Singles Chart, and 22 on the Billboard Hot 100, with major hits on both sides of the Atlantic that included “Just One Look”, “Look Through Any Window”, “I Can’t Let Go”, “Bus Stop”, “Stop Stop Stop”, “On a Carousel”, “Carrie Anne”, “Jennifer Eccles”, and later “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”, “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress”, and “The Air That I Breathe”.
The Hollies continued to tour and perform through the 1980’s, by this time reaching classic rock status and drawing crowds around the world to see them. In the mid 80’s, the band began to lower the keys of their songs when they began to lose their vocal range. After its use in a TV beer commercial (for Miller Lite lager) in the summer of 1988, “He Ain’t Heavy” was reissued in the UK and reached No.1, thus establishing a new record for the length of time between chart-topping singles for one artist of 23 years (the Hollies’ only previous UK No.1 having been 1965’s “I’m Alive”).
They are one of the few British groups of the early 1960’s, along with the Rolling Stones, that have never disbanded and continue to record and perform. In recognition of their achievements, the Hollies were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010. They also were awarded an Ivor Novello Award in 1995 for Outstanding Contribution to British Music.
And THIS is without doubt my absolute favorite song by them. Actually it probably ranks right up there in my top ten.
“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. The Hollies’ and Rufus Wainwright’s versions of the song were featured in the film “Zoolander”.
Scott and Russell had been introduced to each other by Johnny Mercer, at a California nightclub. Although Russell was dying of lymphoma and the pair met in person only three times, they managed to collaborate on the song.
In 1884, James Wells, Moderator of the United Free Church of Scotland, in his book The Parables of Jesus tells the story of a little girl carrying a big baby boy. Seeing her struggling, someone asked if she wasn’t tired. With surprise she replied, “No, he’s not heavy; he’s my brother.” And In the 1940’s, the words, adapted as “He ain’t heavy, Father, he’s my brother”, were taken as a slogan for Boys Town children’s home by founder Father Edward Flanagan.
That was SO great! And THESE guys are top of my list, too. I always wanted to see the Bee Gees in concert. Never made it… I actually wanted to see THEM more than the Beatles! I was SO in love with Barry Gibb! Lordy! He’s still gorgeous after all these years… Sigh…
The Bee Gees were a pop music group formed in 1958. Their lineup consisted of brothers Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb. The trio were successful for most of their decades of recording music, but they had two distinct periods of exceptional success: as a popular music act in the late 196’s and early 1970’s, and as prominent performers of the disco music era in the mid-to-late 1970’s. (Though I could have lived WITHOUT that era! LOL) The group sang recognizable three-part tight harmonies; Robin’s clear vibrato lead vocals were a hallmark of their earlier hits, while Barry’s R&B falsetto became their signature sound during the mid-to-late 1970’s and 1980’s. They wrote all of their own hits, as well as writing and producing several major hits for other artists.
Born on the Isle of Man to English parents, the Gibb brothers lived in Chorlton, Manchester, England, until the late 1950’s. There, in 1955, they formed the Rattlesnakes. The family then moved to Redcliffe, in Queensland, Australia, and then to Cribb Island. After achieving their first chart success in Australia as the Bee Gees with “Spicks and Specks” (their 12th single), they returned to the UK in January 1967, when producer Robert Stigwood began promoting them to a worldwide audience.
As of July 2013, the Bee Gees have sold more than 220 million records worldwide, placing them among the world’s best-selling music artists of all time. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997; the presenter of the award to “Britain’s first family of harmony” was Brian Wilson, historical leader of The Beach Boys, another “family act”. The Bee Gees’ Hall of Fame citation says, “Only Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks and Paul McCartney have outsold the Bee Gees.”
Following Maurice’s death from cardiac arrest in January 2003, at the age of 53, Barry and Robin retired the group’s name after 45 years of activity. In 2009, Robin announced that he and Barry had agreed the Bee Gees would re-form and perform again. Robin died in May 2012, aged 62, after a prolonged struggle with cancer and other health problems, leaving Barry as the only surviving member of the group’s final line-up. He currently continues to produce (for himself and others), record, and perform. Barry was ranked by Q magazine at number 38 on their list of “100 Greatest Singers” in 2007.
The three Gibb brothers were appointed Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2002. On 2 May 2004, Barry and Robin received their awards at Buckingham Palace, along with their nephew Adam, who collected the award on behalf of his father Maurice, who had died in January 2003. Gibb was also awarded a knighthood in the 2018 New Year Honours.
“How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” is a song released by the Bee Gees in 1971. It was written mainly by Barry and Robin Gibb and was the lead and first single on the group’s 1971 album Trafalgar. It was their first US No. 1 single and also reached No. 1 in Cashbox magazine for two weeks.
In the US Atco Records issued both mono and stereo versions of the song on each side as a promo single. The B-side was a Maurice Gibb composition “Country Woman”.
The song appears in the 2013 film American Hustle and on its soundtrack.
Barry and Robin Gibb wrote the song in August 1970 with “Lonely Days” when the Gibb brothers had reconvened following a period of break-up and alienation.
“Robin came to my place” says Barry, “and that afternoon we wrote ‘How Can You Mend a Broken Heart’ and that obviously was a link to us coming back together. We called Maurice, finished the song, went to the studio and once again, with only ‘Broken Heart’ as a basic structure, we went in to the studio with that and an idea for ‘Lonely Days’, and those two songs were recorded that night”. They originally offered the song to Andy Williams, but ended up recording it themselves, although Williams himself covered the song on his album You’ve Got a Friend. Barry also explains. Robin Gibb remarked on the song, “The whole thing took about an hour to complete. The song reached the number one spot, to our great satisfaction.”
No matter what group it was, for me it was all about the harmony…