There are few musicians who have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but whose appearance at
Sydney's State Theatre goes virtually unnoticed.
However, the Hollies' 75-year-old drummer, Bobby Elliott, is one of them
Bobby Elliott has performed with and inspired some of music's biggest stars. Photo: Robert Shakespeare
Not only has he been praised by Bruce Springsteen but he also recorded more hits than the Beatles in the
1960s and '70s – many at London's legendary Abbey Road, while going "for a few beers afterwards at the
Ad Lib Club" with Lennon and McCartney who were in a neighbouring studio.
Then there was the Rolling Stones.
Evergreen: Bobby Elliott, (centre) with the rest of the Hollies, Graham Nash (left), Eric Haydock, Tony Hicks
and Allan Clarke in 1963. Photo: David Farrell
"Keith Richards called me into their dressing room to introduce me to his mum and dad before Keith became
'Keef'," he recalls.
Elliott also played on one of the greatest pop anthems of all time with a then-unknown pianist/songwriter who
answered to the name of "Reg" but was already well on his way to becoming Elton John.
Elliott has been the Hollies drummer since August 1963. Like the Stones, the Who and the Searchers, the Hollies
are one of the few groups to have continued touring uninterrupted for more than 50 years.
They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010
"I've got my Hall of Fame statue," Elliott says. "It's in the downstairs loo at my home on the edge of the
Yorkshire Moors – Wuthering Heights country, near where the Brontes lived."
Although neither lead singer Allan Clarke nor the band's chief songwriter Graham Nash (who left in 1968 to
form the folk-rock supergroup Crosby, Stills and Nash) – will be in Sydney, Elliott, original guitarist Tony Hicks
and the new band will be performing the Hollies' full catalogue of hits.
And what a catalogue that is.
From Just One Look, Bus Stop and Jennifer Eccles to He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother and Long Cool Woman
n A Black Dress.
Before joining the Hollies, Elliott's claim to fame was that he beat seven other drummers (including Keith Moon,
before the Who, and Mick Fleetwood, before Fleetwood Mac) in an audition for Shane Fenton and the Fentones
(Fenton later became Alvin Stardust in the '70s).
It was Hicks who found "Heavy", as Elliott calls one of the band's two big anthems (along with
"Air" – The Air That I Breathe).
But it was the session musician Reg Dwight – on the edge of superstardom – who played the grand piano
t the bottom of the stairs in Abbey Road's Studio 2 next to Elliott's sparse drum kit as Clarke put down the
initial vocal track for "Heavy".
A few weeks later, Elliott and Hicks were offered a song their occasional pianist had written with his lyricist,
Bernie Taupin. However, history records Elton kept Your Song for himself, launching a fabulous career.
As for Springsteen, the Hollies were one of the first bands to do a cover version of a Springsteen composition.
The Boss' second album featured 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) and the Hollies cover version appeared two
years later, in 1975.
"The first time I met Bruce was when we were playing a club called The Bottom Line in New York and he came
in to thank us for recording Sandy. So we went for a few beers," Elliott recalls.
"Fast forward to 2014. And we were doing a gig in Adelaide. We went back to our hotel, met at the bar, and the
E Street Band was there. Bruce was in his room.
"We were drinking Grey Goose vodka with the band and it was like 20 Questions: how did you do that
arrangement on that Hollies song?"
"Finally Max [Weinberg, E Street Band drummer and TV personality] said: 'You know your name often comes up in
ur rehearsals? When we are stuck for an ending, Bruce will shout at me: "Just do what that Hollies drummer does!".
"There I go, boasting again. But it is the greatest compliment I've ever been paid."
The Hollies: Highway of Hits – State Theatre, Sydney, February 17-18