Transcript: Transcript The Hollies’ Allan Clarke – a sixty year musical odyssey


Seg 1 (0:13) Welcome to A Breath of Fresh Air with Sandy Kaye. (0:31) Hi, how are you? I hope you’ve had a lovely week since we last caught up. I want to remind you (0:42) right up front that if you have any suggestions for me of artists from the 60s, 70s or 80s that (0:48) you’d like to hear from, please send me a message through the website (0:55) I’m still following up on a lot that you’ve already sent me, but I’d like to have more, (0:59) especially if you fancy jumping onto a call with me and your favourite artist, okay? (1:05) Now, talking about favourite artists, my guest today is likely one of yours, (1:11) and definitely one of mine.

His band was perhaps the greatest pop group to emerge from the early (1:17) British rock revolution. They had 18 top 10 hits and sold millions of singles and albums worldwide. (1:25) Songs like this one.

(1:27) Bus stop, where day she’s there, I say, please share my umbrella. (1:34) Bus stop, bus go, she stays, love grows, under my umbrella. (1:41) All that summer we enjoyed it, wind and rain and shine.

(1:48) That umbrella we employed it, by August she was mine. (1:54) As lead singer of the Hollies, Alan Clark has enjoyed one of the most successful and (2:00) recognisable voices of all time. He currently has a couple of new solo projects out, (2:07) the first called Resurgence from 2020, and the second I’ll Never Forget, that he did with his (2:13) childhood friend and ex-Hollies bandmate, Graham Nash.

Alan, however, says his voice (2:19) just isn’t what it used to be. Hello, Alan Clark. You’re riding another crest of the wave.

(2:25) Well, you say that, yeah, it’s very unexpected at my age, but it’s going wonderful. (2:31) Are you enjoying it as much this time round as you did in the beginning? (2:34) Well, it all seems very strange, because you know, when you don’t sing for 15 years, (2:40) and then suddenly you get an idea to do something, (2:44) it makes you think why I hadn’t done it 15 years previously. But that’s life.

(2:48) Yeah. Before we get on to the new album, Alan, tell me what you’ve been doing for those 15 years. (2:54) I know that you retired to look after your wife, Jennifer, who thankfully is really well right now.

(3:01) She sure is. Yeah, she’s fine. It’s our 60th, so, you know, we’re going to get the old, (3:07) I think it’s diamond, but I’m not going to tell her that.

(3:11) So what, you were literally childhood sweethearts? (3:14) Well, no, not really. I mean, you know, if girls weren’t married by the age of 19, (3:19) in my day, they were like left on the shelf, they said. So if you weren’t engaged by 18, (3:26) there was something wrong with you.

(3:27) So you married her really young? (3:29) Yeah, well, it was a blind date. You know, a mate of mine, we got a night off, (3:33) and a mate of mine said, well, we’re near Coventry, I’ve got a, I know there’s a girl (3:38) there that I know, do you fancy coming with me and we’ll have a blind date? I said, yeah, (3:43) why not? I had no money or anything like that. I had three hits, right, in the charts by then, (3:50) and she didn’t know who I was.

I had no money. So it was a good meeting. As soon as I saw her, (3:56) I thought, wow, she’s beautiful.

(3:59) And is she still beautiful today? (4:01) She is. Of course she is. (4:16) I’m gonna find her.

I’m gonna find her. I’m gonna find her. I’m gonna find her.

I’m gonna find her. (4:42) I’m gonna find her. (4:45) When I left the Hollies, I stopped hitting the high notes.

So my voice was wavering, (4:51) even when I was on stage, and people began to notice. So I had a discussion with the boys, (4:58) and they said, well, let’s see how it goes for the next three months. And it didn’t get any better.

(5:03) I was doing a concert in the north of England when I got a phone call from my wife (5:08) saying that she’d just been diagnosed again with a second cancer. And I wanted to get home (5:14) straight away, which I tried to do. We went through it, and so I decided then that, okay, (5:21) now, boys, I’m going.

That’s it. I’m going to look after my wife and see. We didn’t know how (5:27) long we were going to have that together.

So after Jenny had been through her treatments that she had, (5:33) we decided to go abroad, and we bought a place in South Carolina by the side of a lagoon, (5:40) and we used to go there as often as we liked, really. So even then, we were living our lives (5:46) a day at a time. But when we’d been there six years, and actually nothing was happening, (5:53) we thought, hmm, well, we better get home and start living.

So that’s what we did. (6:06) It’s there, drawn in the playground, love kiss, hate or adore. I love Jennifer Eccles.

(6:17) I know that she loves me. I love Jennifer Eccles. I know that she loves me.

(6:28) La-la, la-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la-la. (6:40) I used to carry her satchels. She used to walk by my side.

(6:51) But when we got to a doorstep, her death would let me inside. (6:58) About that time, again, two of our children decided to have children again, but we’d already (7:05) got like two 20-year-old grandchildren, but these little things came along. (7:10) So we had our hands full all that time, helping our son because his wife had left.

(7:18) Now I’m doing this, you know, it’s crazy. (7:20) Alan Clarke, tell me what year it was that you left the Hollies then and Jenny was diagnosed (7:24) with cancer. (7:26) 1999.

(7:28) Funnily enough, my daughter was diagnosed with cancer about six years ago and she’s (7:35) coming out of it and I was diagnosed with cancer four years ago, but I’m all right as (7:42) well. (7:42) So we’ve had our fair share of this thing. (7:46) So what’s the family secret to beating all this? (7:49) Other than ignoring it and just getting on with your life.

(7:52) We all help each other. (7:54) It’s just great. (7:55) I have a wonderful life.

(7:57) You said something a little earlier about living it one day at a time. (8:00) I wonder if that’s a bit of the secret to the success of it all too, though, because (8:05) they all talk about don’t live in yesterday, don’t live in tomorrow. (8:09) You seem to have been doing that for quite a while.

(8:11) Yeah, well, you know, when you get close to death, what you think is going to be anyway, (8:17) you do have to sort of reflect on what you’re going to do with the time that you may only (8:23) have left. (8:23) But when you don’t, it gets into your blood thinking, yeah, I’m going to live a day at (8:31) a time. (8:32) Now, many, many years ago, I think it was about 1979, I gave up drinking.

(8:39) I thought it’s about the end now. (8:40) You’ve had enough of that. (8:42) It’s not doing you any good.

(8:43) So you know, you better get on your bike and do something properly. (8:47) So from 1979, I’ve been completely sober. (8:51) And with doing that, I’ve met a lot of people quite like I was and they were.

(8:55) And we talked to each other about, you know, the things that made us do this and do that. (9:00) And they helped me a great deal. (9:02) I would just wish everybody had it.

(9:04) Well, I think the advice that you give is really good for a lot of people listening, (9:09) because if Alan Clarke is saying take one day at a time and keep your attitude positive, (9:14) then a lot of people will probably take that up. (9:16) I’m astounded by how many fans you still have today after so many years of doing this. (9:23) I put one little clip of Long Tall Woman after having a chat with Roger Cook onto my Facebook (9:28) and it’s gone viral.

(9:31) Thousands of people coming in saying, we love Alan Clarke. (9:34) Where is he? (9:35) What’s he doing? (9:52) I’ve been trying to get Graham to do something for a long, long time. (9:56) Well, when I say a long, long time, I’ve known Graham 76 years and for the 40 of those, I’ve (10:06) been trying to get him to do an album with me again.

(10:09) And we both said yes and he’s agreed. (10:12) And then something comes along and another year goes by and another year goes by. (10:17) And it was about five years ago that I presented to him with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

(10:24) He didn’t know that I was going to be there to present it to him. (10:28) And it was quite emotional. (10:30) It was really quite emotional that me and him were stood on a stage with our arms around (10:36) each other and going, what’s happening? (10:39) And I think that broke the chain in a way that we both looked at each other and said, (10:45) we better do something and let’s do it soon.

(10:48) I was working at that particular time on making my first album, which was Resurgence, which (10:54) I was just doing for a bit of fun. (10:56) I got onto my PC and it had a little thing at the bottom which is called Garage Band, (11:02) which I never looked at. (11:04) I just thought, oh, well, what do you do with that? (11:07) And I started writing lyrics when I was going through having the radiotherapy and all that.

(11:12) I started writing lyrics out and everybody kept saying, but why don’t you put it to music? (11:16) Well, not being able to get up there anymore, I thought, well, I’ll try it a bit deeper. (11:24) So what I’ve been doing now recently is that I’ve been trying to stretch myself just a (11:30) little bit higher each time that I record something. (11:33) But then it comes to a part where you can’t get past it.

(11:37) So then I go, OK, that’s my range. (11:40) I’m going to keep it between that and that. (11:42) And I’m going to see if I can write some songs.

(11:44) And I did for Resurgence. (11:46) These hands are shifting across a nice cold moon. (11:54) A blind man stands this way, singing out of tune.

(12:02) Something’s going to happen. (12:05) Things ain’t going to stay the same unless you play the game. (12:21) Can’t you see that? (12:29) But you’re heavenly.

(12:52) That was it. (12:54) My being in the limelight is over and done with. (12:57) And then this thing with Graham and me writing these songs, sending them to him and him (13:03) going, hey, wow, these are great.

(13:04) These are great. (13:05) Not thinking, OK, well, they’re great. (13:07) So what? (13:08) They’re a good song.

(13:09) Had you lost your confidence because of the loss of range in your voice? (13:12) It wasn’t losing confidence. (13:14) It was actually losing your voice. (13:16) All those songs, I’m Ian Hebby, and even Long Cold Woman is pretty high.

(13:21) And The Air That I Breathe and all the other stuff that I used to do with the Hollies, (13:25) which was very high. (13:27) You know, our Ron Richards, our producer, used to push us, even in Graham’s time, to (13:32) get that sound that Graham and I had together. (13:35) And I think that he may have stretched my voice just a little bit too much.

(13:39) When I recorded The Air That I Breathe in 1974, that was a long time ago when you think (13:46) about doing 40 years on stage singing that song. (13:50) The whole process of doing a show on stage, half hours, and you forget that you’re getting (13:56) older as you do that. (13:57) And it happens to a lot of people.

(13:59) And when that happens, sometimes they try to fool themselves that they can still do (14:04) it. (14:04) So they have something else brought in to make it feel better for you. (14:08) And I didn’t really want to go through all that.

(14:11) You know, when your voice is gone, it’s gone. (14:13) Don’t pretend. (14:16) I wish I could make a wish (14:19) For cigarettes (14:41) No, this came upon me (15:25) And it leaves me weak (15:32) So sick, silent angel (15:37) Go to sleep (15:44) Sometimes (15:47) All I need is the air that I breathe (15:51) And to love you (15:56) All I need is the air that I breathe (16:00) Yes, to love you (16:03) My wife got cancer and that’s what made my mind to just keep going.

(16:08) But how was that for you to accept? (16:10) Were you okay with that decision? (16:12) And I suppose the voice being a muscle is like any other muscle that you use so much, (16:16) you wear it out to some extent. (16:18) When something like that happens in your life, you have to think about what is the most important (16:24) thing to you at that particular time. (16:27) And at that particular time, my wife was more important than me being in a band.

(16:31) So that was easy. (16:32) So her sickness, if one can go that far, it was a bit of a salvation for you also (16:39) because it made your decision really easy. (16:41) Well, it’s easy, isn’t it? (16:42) When you think that the woman that you love may die within the next five years or whatever, (16:49) you have to do something about that.

(16:51) It’s just not having your wife that has the cancer. (16:54) It’s a family thing. (16:56) You know, it just doesn’t affect the husband.

(16:58) It affects the children. (16:59) It affects the grandchildren. (17:00) Did she agree to you giving up the singing and coming to help her? (17:05) Did she try and convince you to stay where you were at? (17:08) Listen, when you’ve been on the road for 40 years and your wife is waiting for you to come home, (17:13) she would say, that’s really good, that’s great.

(17:16) But she knew that I would give that up to be with her. (17:19) She’s been an incredible wife to stand by you, as you say, 40 years on the road. (17:24) That wouldn’t have been easy.

(17:25) Let me tell you, it wasn’t all the time that good. (17:28) You know, there were moments within Bernie’s life where there’s a disagreement (17:33) or there’s failure and there’s success. (17:37) But we were the kind of people that thought, well, we’re not going to let that get us down.

(17:40) We’ll see both of us do whatever we have to do. (17:43) So, no, no, I’m not perfect at all. (17:47) It was 1999 when Alan announced his retirement from the music industry.

(17:52) But as you’ve heard, he’s back and both he and his wife Jenny are both cancer-free. (17:59) Back in a sec with more.


Breath of Fresh Air Seg 2

(0:00) This is a breath of fresh air with Sandy Kay. (0:04) It’s a beautiful day. (0:08) So glad you’ve hung in.

(0:10) Despite 60 years of marriage behind him, (0:13) Alan is the first to admit he’s no perfect man. (0:16) One of the songs that’s on the album that I think you’ll like (0:19) is called The Presence of You and then it’s about Jenny. (0:23) And there’s another track about singing about myself, (0:27) which is Maybe the Next Time.

(0:30) And maybe the next time I’ll get things even right (0:33) to a point where I’ll know where I’m going to go and who I am. (0:37) But, you know, I’ve not got to that point yet (0:39) because I know that I’ve not been perfect in this lifetime. (0:43) So all the things that I’ve learned, (0:45) if I ever have the experience of coming back, (0:49) or if I’m allowed to come back, (0:51) then maybe I’ll know it better next time.

(0:53) That’ll get me to where I belong. (0:57) I’m willing to live a life (1:01) By making no mistakes (1:05) But I’m giving all it takes (1:12) I’m living each moment (1:16) I’m just trying to get things right (1:20) I find it ain’t that easy (1:29) So here it is just one more time (1:33) Must be a reason why (1:37) This time I’ll pay attention (1:40) So it won’t pass me right on by (1:45) Maybe the next time (1:49) Maybe the next time (1:55) Maybe the next time I’ll get to where I belong (2:01) Let’s just go back to Graham for a minute (2:02) because you tried to convince him for years to do an album with you. (2:06) Why did you want to do it so much? (2:08) I was really, really sad and let down when he left for the first time.

(2:12) I was pretty devastated that he was going to leave his best mate. (2:16) You know, after we’d been through all that to get where we were. (2:19) But Graham, you know, he was always the more ambitious guy in the group.

(2:24) And I was always the lead singer. (2:27) Now, when you’ve got someone to compete with, (2:29) I mean, I was pretty good at what I did. (2:32) It wasn’t hard for me to sing like that.

(2:35) But with Graham having to sing harmony most of the time, (2:39) I can imagine it being in the back of his mind (2:41) that he wanted to be a lead singer as well. (2:44) But what happened with Graham was he took it the way (2:46) where he wanted to record an album. (2:50) And it was called Butterfly, (2:52) which he wrote his own songs on that.

(2:55) And he sang the songs and did the harmonies on the songs, (3:00) thinking that that was going to be the way that we would progress with him. (3:04) Well, there’s no way I could progress with that (3:07) because it means I put myself out of a job. (3:09) So it was difficult for both of us.

(3:11) And when we went to Los Angeles, (3:13) was the place where Graham actually fell in love (3:17) with David Crosby and Stephen Stills. (3:19) We were playing at the Whiskey A Go-Go. (3:21) Everybody was there, you know, there were the Beach Boys, (3:24) there were the Monkees, there was Mamma’s and the Papas.

(3:27) There were a lot, so a lot of the groups wanted to come and see us live. (3:31) And we killed it, you know, it was great, it was lovely. (3:33) Everybody loved us.

(3:35) And I do remember going back to the hotel with Graham (3:38) and David Crosby and Stephen Stills. (3:40) And we were in our twin-beddy room with a seating area, you know. (3:45) It wasn’t a suite.

(3:46) And I got really tired. (3:48) I said, well, I’ll leave you two, I’m going to go to bed. (3:51) And the three of them were there playing their guitars and singing.

(3:55) And that was it. (3:57) You, who are on your own, (4:02) must have a code (4:05) that you can live by. (4:08) And so, become yourself (4:13) because the past is just a goodbye.

(4:21) Teach your children well. (4:26) Their father’s hell did slowly go by. (4:33) And feed them on your dreams.

(4:38) The one they picked, (4:42) the one you’ll know by. (4:46) Don’t you ever ask them why (4:50) if they told you you would die. (4:53) So just look at them and sigh.

(5:00) And know they love you. (5:05) It took him a year and a half (5:06) to actually get to the fulfilment of being with the group. (5:11) And over that year and a half, (5:14) there were times when I used to question, (5:17) where has Graham gone? (5:19) Oh, he’s gone off with Mama Cass somewhere, you know.

(5:21) And things like that. (5:21) Oh, right, OK. (5:22) So he was less and less in my life in that year and a half.

(5:28) But when I was told in the street by a friend of mine (5:30) that Graham was forming a group, (5:33) and that was it, he was going to leave, (5:35) that was the first time that I felt, (5:38) oh, that’s what he was doing all that time. (5:40) I can imagine you would have felt completely betrayed, (5:43) and especially for the fact that he didn’t tell you about it. (5:45) You heard about it from somebody else too.

(5:48) Well, he does say that there was a lot of hints on the way, (5:51) but I didn’t see any of them. (5:53) And I might not have made it without him. (5:56) He was a leader of a kind.

(5:58) I couldn’t have pulled the group together and get through. (6:01) The best thing for me was that Terry Sylvester came along. (6:04) You didn’t hold a grudge, though, against him.

(6:06) You weren’t angry. (6:07) It didn’t destroy the friendship between you, obviously, (6:10) but it did put a bit of distance between you. (6:12) No, it did spoil the friendship for a long, long time.

(6:15) I never forgave him for quite a long time. (6:17) And it wasn’t until about 1984, 1985, (6:21) that he actually suddenly realised (6:23) how bad he had been at that particular time. (6:26) I could see that he was in an awkward position.

(6:30) But anyway, what happened was that I got to know Sylvester, (6:35) and I thought, this guy is absolutely brilliant, (6:38) and let’s go in the studio and see what we can do. (6:40) We came out with Sorry, Suzanne. (6:42) I can’t make it if you leave me (6:46) I’m sorry, Suzanne, believe me (6:51) I was wrong (6:53) And I knew I was all alone (6:56) Forgive me, I still love you more than ever (7:03) I’m sorry, Suzanne, forever hurting you (7:08) You know I never wanted to (7:12) I’m truly sorry, Suzanne (7:17) I could never ever justify (7:21) All the tears I made you cry (7:25) But I do regret it, my Suzanne (7:30) You’ve got to believe me (7:33) I was looking round for someone new (7:37) What a foolish thing to do (7:41) All the time I knew it (7:45) Heaven knows what made me do it good (7:52) He was number two.

(7:54) And then we went on to do Gasoline Alley Bread, (7:57) then we did Ian Heavy, 1969, (8:00) and then we did other songs, (8:01) and then we got into Long Cool Woman, (8:04) and then we got into The Air That I Breathe, (8:06) and I’d just forgotten Graham by then. (8:09) Okay, he went, and I’m okay. (8:11) We used to meet, and it was, (8:12) not at the end, how you doing? (8:14) I’m doing fine, you know, doing fine.

(8:17) But he did say a thing when we were inducted (8:19) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, (8:21) and we were, at that particular time, (8:23) we were doing a DV for the American market, (8:26) so we were each interviewed, (8:28) and one of the things that he says about (8:30) when he left the Hollies, (8:31) he didn’t expect us to have two number ones, (8:35) but, you know, and he said, (8:36) how dare they have that without me? (8:38) And he meant it as, you know, (8:40) how dare they, with a smile on his face. (8:43) The road is long (8:49) With a many a winding turn (8:56) That leads us to (8:58) Who knows where (9:02) Who knows where (9:08) But I’m strong (9:14) Strong enough to carry you (9:22) He ain’t heavy (9:27) He’s my brother (9:32) So on we go (9:39) His welfare is a matter of concern (9:45) No burden is he to bear (9:53) We’ll get there (9:59) For I know (10:05) He would not end (10:15) He ain’t heavy (10:19) He’s my brother (10:23) It was just great. (10:25) We both went on separate ways, (10:27) but we’re just as successful as both.

(10:29) Did he ever actually apologise to you (10:31) for causing that hurt? (10:33) No. (10:33) You just forgave him and moved on, (10:35) and now you’re buddies again. (10:37) It’s all old stuff, you know, (10:39) it’s all old stuff.

(10:40) Yeah. (10:41) He kept me up to the years I had all those hits, (10:43) that’s when he left. (10:44) I just smiled.

(10:46) Good for you, Alan Clarke, good for you. (10:49) So despite all of that, (10:51) you still wanted to do another album with him (10:53) before it was too late, (10:54) and he finally agreed. (10:57) So this is the result now (10:59) that we’re talking about here.

(11:01) Oh, so you’ve heard the songs? (11:03) Yes, they’re very reminiscent of the early stuff. (11:06) It goes full circle back again. (11:08) My intention was to write songs (11:10) around Graham’s harmony.

(11:12) That was the most important thing (11:14) that I had to think of. (11:15) I asked him to do that (11:16) because I wanted to get together (11:18) and recreate the sound that we had (11:21) before the day that he left, (11:23) because it was a good sound. (11:25) It was the sound that actually made us famous.

(11:28) I think it was on 20, 20 Golden Hits, (11:31) and like, you know, (11:32) there was just one look, (11:33) look through any window, bus stop, (11:34) stop, stop, stop, carry on. (11:36) They were all happy, uplifting songs. (11:42) Carry on, carry on (11:46) When we were at school (11:48) Our games were simple (11:51) I played a janitor (11:53) You played a monitor (11:55) Then you played with older boys (11:57) And prefixed (11:59) What’s the attraction (12:00) And what they’re doing (12:03) Hey, carry on (12:06) What’s your game now (12:07) Can anybody play (12:11) Hey, carry on (12:14) What’s your game now (12:16) Can anybody play (12:18) He was to remind people about me and Graham (12:21) and the way we used to sing.

(12:23) Now, I was going through the album (12:25) and he said, (12:25) it’s going to be your solo album now. (12:27) I said, well, you’ve got to write something. (12:29) And he said, well, (12:29) I’ve got this song about Buddy Holly.

(12:32) Now, he very rarely writes any songs like that. (12:35) He’s got a way of doing his material now. (12:38) He’s so different from the way that I think.

(12:40) I mean, it’s the way that he thinks. (12:42) But he came with this Buddies band, (12:45) which I thought, oh, there he is. (12:47) There he is, that’s Graham.

(12:48) All right, this is great. (12:50) And it tells the story of us meeting (12:52) and listening to Buddy Holly, (12:54) wanting to be him, buying the guitar, (12:57) standing in front of a mirror, pretending, (12:59) and then getting a band (13:00) and actually going on and doing that sort of stuff. (13:03) And I’m singing the low harmonies (13:05) and he’s doing the high harmonies.

(13:52) So you’re telling me that when you were teenagers, (13:55) you were enamored with Buddy Holly’s music (13:56) and his music pushed you forward? (13:59) Yes, it did. (14:00) But the guy that was before Buddy Holly (14:02) was Lonnie Donegan. (14:03) And everybody in England wanted to be in a skiffle group.

(14:07) So everybody went out and bought a guitar, (14:10) learned three records, (14:11) and started singing Rock Island Line. (14:13) That’s how it all started, really. (14:15) Alan Clarke, were you always going to be a singer? (14:17) Or did you start life out, (14:20) despite your love of music, (14:21) wanting to enter another profession? (14:24) My mum used to take me to the cinema (14:27) when I was little.

(14:29) And I do remember all the big films (14:31) like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (14:33) and Annie Oakley, Calamity Jane, West Side Story. (14:38) And I think that’s where I started to love those sort of things. (14:43) Now, it wasn’t in my mind that I wanted to be a singer, (14:46) but I mean, I wished I could have danced like Gene Kelly.

(14:50) I remember all the tunes. (14:51) It wasn’t that that I got into. (14:54) It was just me and Graham just singing (14:56) whenever people asked us to.

(14:58) Alan Clarke and Graham Nash were friends at school (15:01) from the age of seven. (15:03) They often sung together at home. (15:05) And as teenagers, Alan’s brother Frank suggested (15:08) the pair should head down to one of the local clubs (15:11) to see if they could get a gig.

(15:13) Graham and I were both 14. (15:15) Short trousers, two guitars. (15:17) And he took us there, and he was owned by an ex-wrestler.

(15:20) And he actually said, (15:21) OK, boys, the strippers are coming up now. (15:23) So what we want you to do is to go on (15:26) and do three of his songs, (15:27) and we’ll see how you go down. (15:28) So we went on, not expecting anything.

(15:32) We did the three songs, (15:33) and we ended with Rock Island Line. (15:36) And at the end of Rock Island Line, (15:37) there was like silence. (15:39) And then the crowd just went, whoa! (15:41) So we thought, ooh, dear.

(15:43) And when we came off, the guy gave us ten bob. (15:45) That would have been a fortune. (15:47) Well, not a fortune, (15:49) but it was more than I’d seen (15:51) for having spends or anything like that.

(15:53) And he said, if you want to come back next week, (15:55) I’ve got some other clubs that I’d like you to play at. (15:58) But if I hadn’t have done that, (16:00) there wouldn’t be any Crosby, Stills, Nashendron. (16:02) There wouldn’t be any Hollies.

(16:04) It was always the harmony. (16:06) That was the special gift that you had together, yeah? (16:09) Any song you want to sing, we’d sing it, (16:12) and it harmonised. (16:13) No thought about it.

(16:14) Just do it. (16:15) You don’t have to practise. (16:16) There’s no rehearsals.

(16:17) Is it because of the chemistry between the two of you (16:19) that you can just fall in with each other like that? (16:22) Well, it’s like walking the wires, isn’t it? (16:24) It was like Joey Lewis and… (16:26) Dean Martin. (16:27) They had to be together, (16:28) Abba and Luke Costello, (16:29) and that’s been great. (16:54) I found out how good it feels to have your love.

(17:24) Just wonder how it’s wrong. (17:43) Yeah, yeah, yeah. (17:45) So it really was the chemistry that enabled (17:48) Alan and Graham to keep the hits coming.

(17:51) Together, they took the Hollies from very humble beginnings (17:54) in 1962 to go on and influence everything (17:57) that came to follow. (17:59) Stay tuned.

Breath of Fresh Air Seg 3

(0:00) This is a breath of fresh air with Sandy Kaye. (0:04) It’s a beautiful day. (0:09) Welcome back.

So when you have chemistry with someone, it appears it does last a lifetime. (0:15) 60 years after first working together, Alan’s latest album with Graham Nash, called I’ll Never Forget, (0:23) showcases their harmony perfectly. (0:25) And I wrote those songs specifically for that reason.

(0:28) Which is your favorite track on there, Alan? (0:30) I think the one that means the most to me is the presence of you. (0:35) And you’re the one to shine the light. (0:37) Because that’s what actually happened.

(0:38) I was in the darkness and all of a sudden I was in the light. (0:42) I was broken and full of sorrow and thoughts. (0:57) I didn’t think that I knew (1:01) that I was worth saving (1:04) until I heard (1:08) I heard you say (1:12) I’ll shine a light (1:16) You’re traveling (1:20) I’ll shine a light (1:24) Show you the way (1:28) Take my hand (1:33) And let me guide you (1:39) To a place (1:43) Where you’ll be free (1:45) They’re all sort of emotions that I felt in my own life.

(1:49) All the songs that I’ve written, Jenny says, well, why don’t you write a song for me? (1:53) But all my songs were about her, really. (1:55) She said, you have to have a story about someone else other than your wife. (1:59) Well, Jennifer Eccles, let’s put it that way.

She was Jenny. (2:01) Let’s just talk about Jennifer Eccles for a second. (2:04) That was about Jenny, but her name wasn’t Eccles.

(2:06) That was Graham’s first wife. Her maiden name’s Eccles. (2:10) So we’d recorded a song called King Madison Reverse, (2:15) which was one of Graham’s babies.

(2:17) And I thought it was pretty good when we finished it. (2:20) And I think it came in at number 15 and then went out. (2:25) So that was not a success as far as we were concerned.

(2:28) And Graham was very disappointed that it hadn’t really done better. (2:34) And we were in Graham’s apartment. (2:37) Graham and Rose is his wife’s name.

(2:39) And Jenny was up and I were there and we had a few drinks. (2:43) And I think there was something else passed around. (2:46) We said, well, let’s write a silly song.

(2:48) So Jenny wrote the first two lines. (2:50) Then I came in. Then Graham came in.

(2:53) And we thought, oh, well, that’s a really silly song. (2:56) And we recorded it and it came in at number two. (3:37) Another point that Graham thought, really, I don’t want to be a part of this anymore.

(3:42) Jennifer Eccles is not where I want to be. (3:44) Now, all these years later, I completely understand what he was thinking (3:48) and where he wanted to be. (3:49) You’re getting jiggy with all of the hints that he was giving you.

(3:52) You can see them now in retrospect. (3:54) That’s it, yeah. (3:55) So this latest album, I’ll Never Forget Alan Clark, (3:58) seems to be a complete return to those days of the 60s and 70s (4:03) when life was a whole lot more simple, (4:05) when all any audience wanted was an uplifting sort of a song.

(4:09) Do you think that the time is right now for that particularly? (4:13) Well, I don’t know anything else. (4:15) I’m not going to try and be Ed Sheeran. (4:17) I’m rock and roll.

(4:18) I’ve been rock and roll all my life. (4:20) That’s the music that I like and I love. (4:23) I can sing anything.

(4:24) Not anymore, but what I’m singing now is who I am now, (4:27) and I don’t really need those high notes anymore. (4:30) It’s just that the songs that I’ve written, they all have meaning. (4:34) I want other people to put themselves into the lyrics (4:37) and see what they get out of it.

(4:39) There’s a song on it, You Didn’t Like It, (4:41) but he never finds out what it was. (4:43) You know, he’s wondering why his woman has left, (4:46) and it must have been something that he did. (4:48) So the chorus is You Didn’t Like It, You Didn’t Like It, (4:52) but I don’t know why he didn’t like it.

(5:22) Something that I said, something that I did or didn’t do (5:30) Well, all of a sudden, well, you weren’t there (5:36) And why, I haven’t a clue (5:41) So what was it in your mind that you didn’t like? (5:45) I just thought it was funny because sometimes, you know, (5:47) in life, in anybody, you know, you’ll have a discussion with somebody (5:51) and they’ll say, oh, I don’t like that. (5:53) And I say, well, what do you mean you don’t like it? (5:55) You don’t understand why that person doesn’t like that particular thing. (5:58) But, you know, people live by vibrations.

(6:01) Music is a vibration. (6:03) So if you’re not attuned to the vibration of that particular song, (6:06) you’re not going to like it. (6:07) I like it.

(6:09) Alan, the album cover actually features the guitar (6:12) that was gifted to you in 2010 by the Buddy Holly Education Foundation. (6:17) That must be pretty special for you. (6:19) Well, it is.

I write all my songs on the guitar. (6:22) And that was Buddy Holly’s guitar? (6:24) No, no, no. What he was, he had 25 copies made.

(6:28) One of these frets was on the original Buddy Holly guitar. (6:33) And I don’t know which one it is. (6:35) Funny thing, when they gave it to me, (6:37) this one’s called Peggy Sue Got Married.

(6:39) And when the guy gave it to me, he said, Alan, (6:42) he said, I’m going to make your guitar special. (6:44) I said, why is that? (6:45) He said, I’m going to have Peggy Sue’s wedding ring (6:49) embedded in the guitar. (6:51) The real wedding ring from Peggy Sue.

(6:53) I said, no, you can’t do that. (6:56) I said, there’s no way that I’m going to have that in my guitar, (6:59) knowing that I lose lots of things. (7:01) So I’m definitely not going to take the responsibility (7:04) of having that genuine thing in my guitar.

(7:16) Peggy, my Peggy Sue. (7:20) Oh, well, I love you, girlie. (7:23) I love you, Peggy Sue.

(7:27) Do you know who Peggy Sue was? (7:29) I didn’t. (7:30) Obviously, the inspiration for Buddy Holly’s 1967 hit song, (7:35) she was in fact in a relationship with, (7:37) and then married, Buddy’s bandmate in the crickets, Jerry Allison. (7:41) It’s widely reported the song was initially called Cindy Lou (7:45) and that Jerry asked Buddy to change the title (7:48) to win her back after a break-up.

(7:51) The couple divorced in 1964. (7:54) Alan, is there anything left on your bucket list? (7:56) I don’t know. (7:57) I’ll have to wait until I wake up in the morning.

(7:59) So you never actually planned out your career? (8:02) You’ve been at Graham for all of this time (8:04) to do this album with you. (8:06) It’s not like I was ringing him up every day. (8:08) Each time that we met and we’d look at each other (8:13) and I’d know that Graham’s got this American accent now.

(8:17) But when we meet and we’re talking, (8:20) I hear his voice suddenly going into the Mancunian type of, (8:25) oh, don’t be stupid, you know, all that sort of thing. (8:28) And the Americanism goes just for a flash point, you know, (8:31) and I go, there you are, Graham, there you are. (8:34) I see him again.

(8:35) We’re great together. We’re fine. (8:37) He’s got a life there and I’ve got a life here.

(8:41) Yeah, and what a life. (8:42) If you had it all over again, would you change anything about it? (8:45) No, because if I did that, (8:48) then I wouldn’t have any experiences, would I? (8:50) The experiences that you have in one’s life. (8:52) And you only know that when you get to my age.

(8:55) And talking of your age, (8:56) you obviously keep yourself in pretty good shape. (8:59) Well, I did a lot of gym work before I actually had the cancer (9:02) and it was after that. (9:04) It took me a long time to get back, but now it’s very long walks.

(9:09) But me and my wife, we did Tai Chi for five years. (9:12) I don’t want to do too much. (9:14) I do like a relaxed kind of life and that’s what I’ve got.

(9:18) And sometimes I don’t like things that get in the way. (9:21) They annoy me when there’s silly things that get in the way (9:23) that have to be dealt with. (9:26) Not knowing where I came from (9:28) Reaching out for what comes next (9:31) There’s a certain kind of life to live (9:35) Before that takes effect (9:37) There had to be a reason (9:40) Come on, they hope that there’s a plan (9:43) It all can be a waste of time (9:47) Why am I here? (9:50) Why am I here? (9:55) And who am I? (9:57) Who am I? (10:02) Can’t help thinking it’s a mystery (10:05) I’m not the first to wonder why (10:07) Who is it keeps the secrets (10:10) Hidden with our eyes to hide (10:18) Does it mean I am here? (10:35) At the time of recording this chat, (10:37) Alan Clark was busy doing a round of interviews, (10:40) a necessary process, he says, that he doesn’t often enjoy.

(10:43) It’s usually when people come in and they ask you the same questions (10:47) all the time. When did you meet Graham? (10:49) I hope I haven’t done that to you. (10:52) No, you haven’t.

This has been really good. (10:53) Final question, Alan Clark. (10:55) If you had to choose one of the Holly songs (10:57) that meant the most to you, which would that be? (11:01) Well, I could mention Here and Heavy (11:04) because of the message that it has.

(11:07) I think it’s quite a spiritual song (11:09) that should bring people together. (11:11) I could say The Air That I Breathe (11:13) because it all talks about love in such a way (11:16) that everything that you need is only the air that you breathe. (11:19) You don’t need anything else.

(11:20) But I want to say that this is one of the most unholy songs (11:25) that I ever did. (11:26) And I wrote it with Mr. Roger Cook (11:29) and it would be A Long Cold Woman. (11:31) I love that song too.

(13:20) Cut through half a bottle of brandy when we were writing it (13:23) and it took us half an hour to write it. (13:24) Just me and him having a bit of fun. (13:26) He started the song off, you know, he had the idea.

(13:29) But I always say to him, (13:31) if it wasn’t for my riff at the beginning of that song, (13:34) it wouldn’t be as good as it is. (13:36) You’re probably right. (13:38) I don’t know, it’s something that just happened to me.

(13:41) I put the guitar on, just played it (13:43) and I’ve had people come up to me. (13:45) I mean, when we did the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, (13:49) we had a Waldorf hotel (13:50) and Paul Shaper was the band (13:53) that plays with everybody on those things. (13:55) They’re a brilliant band.

(13:57) And he has a couple of guitarists. (13:59) But we were doing A Long Cold Woman (14:01) and I was petrified because I didn’t know (14:04) what was going to come out of here (14:06) because I hadn’t sung it yet. (14:08) And Greg said, don’t worry about it.

(14:09) At about the starting, the guitarist went, hold it. (14:13) I said, what? (14:14) He said, how do you play that riff? (14:16) He said, because there’s something in there we can’t play. (14:18) I don’t know where it came from.

(14:20) I really don’t. (14:21) And did you have a suite at the Waldorf? (14:23) Fame actually, in one of his interviews, (14:26) said that he put us up at the Waldorf (14:28) and he didn’t because it was the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (14:31) and everybody is given, it’s free when you go. (14:35) They put you in a suite and it’s free.

(14:37) They pay for the flights. (14:39) You go there and you sing and you get inducted. (14:42) I put that right.

(14:43) Yeah, Alan Clark, fabulous chatting with you. (14:46) I’m so, so grateful to you. (14:47) Congrats on the record, Alan.

(14:50) It’s a doozy. (14:51) Thank you. (14:51) Bye now.

(14:53) Alan Clark and the Hollies worked their way (14:55) from smoky backstreet clubs to global stardom. (14:59) They represented the voice of a post-war generation, (15:03) thriving in the newfound freedom of 1960s liberation. (15:07) Their stories about love and loss, upbringing and family (15:11) related well to working people at the time (15:13) and gave us all a narrative to our lives.

(15:16) Today at 82, Alan Clark is still doing that, (15:20) albeit an octave or two lower. (15:23) Thanks for joining me today. (15:25) I hope you’ve enjoyed the chat with Alan Clark (15:27) as much as I did.

(15:28) Will you join me same time next week? (15:30) I’m looking forward to being back in your company then. (15:33) Take care in the meantime, won’t you? (15:35) Do have lots of fun. (15:37) I’ll see you then.

(15:38) Bye now. (15:43) You’ve been listening to A Breath of Fresh Air (15:45) with Sandy Kaye.