them or me, what’s it gonna be? (on cultural oblivion part 1)

THE EVENTS BELOW occurred on July 18, 2014, and I posted it on my Rather Rare Records site as “the hollies are from manchester, england – aren’t they?” A few readers suggested that this had more to do with issues dealt with on this site (such as current events, social observations, and politics) as it addresses the perceived obliviousness of younger generations to any history older than six months. (Six weeks?)

This anecdote has been the topic of several in-person (‘live’?) conversations with friends, most my age, each with a similar experience. In each case, we remarked about the lack of awareness of so many young people to anything that wasn’t currently happening on their cell-phone or Android device. (I know—we sound cynical. Maybe. Or maybe we be acutely accurate . . .)

So, I am also posting it here as a bit of sociologically-oriented observation rather than as one that is music-oriented . . .



Yesterday I bumped into a young couple at the Bellevue Transit Center. Good looking guy, very pretty girl. Both seemed in their mid-20s, both spick and spanned and nicely attired. When we exchanged “Hellos!” I heard the accent and asked them from which part of England they hailed.

“Manchester!” he said.

“Ah,” said I. “The home of the Hollies.”

“What?” said she.

“The Hollies—they’re from Manchester,” I responded, wondering what was going on.

They looked at each other and then at me.

“Um, you don’t know who the Hollies are?” I asked.

“No,” came from both of them.

“Wait! I know,” I came back. “Crosby, Stills and Nash!”

“Uh, sorry,” the pretty girl said.



Without thinking I blurted out, “You don’t know who Crosby, Stills and Nash are?!?” and then realized that I was insulting them.

So I changed the subject: “Off to Seattle?”


“Make sure you see the Pike Place Market.”

“Oh yeah. We intend to!”

“Make sure you sample the different kinds of smoked salmon.”

“Of course!”

“When are you going back?”


“Oh well, then I won’t recommend anything else.”

And so I met two obviously intelligent people from Manchester who knew neither the Hollies nor CS&N and probably didn’t give a whit’s behind! And that was that.

Reminds of the time that Berni and I went for teriyaki and the young guy that took our order was wearing a Bob Marley tee-shirt.

“What’s your favorite Marley album?” Berni inquired.

“I dunno—what’s an album,” he responded.

And so it goes . . .

A very brief history of the Hollies

In early 1962, Allan Clarke and Graham Nash of Manchester, England, were performing as an Everly Brothers-inspired vocal/guitar duo called Ricky and Dane Young. Eventually, they were joined by local musicians Vic Steele (lead guitar), Eric Haydock (bass), and Don Rathbone (drums). By September, they were billing themselves as the Hollies.

In January 1963, they performed at the Cavern Club, where the Beatles were showing off the skills that they had honed in Hamburg. The Hollies were seen by Ron Richards (who had produced the Beatles hit Love Me Do for Parlophone Records months before), who offered them an audition. Steele did not want to be a professional musician at that time (he would later) and left the band. For the audition, the Hollies replaced him with Tony Hicks and got a recording contract. 

Hicks hailed from a band that had been gigging in Manchester called the Dolphins, which also featured future Hollies drummer extraordinaire Bobby Elliott (he joined in mid 1963) and bassist Bernie Calvert (1966). The rest is history—at least it’s history if young people learn it and carry it on past the lives of those who lived it . . .

While the Hollies were one of biggest hit-makers of the ’60s in the UK, their early recordings did not get a lot of airplay on the radio stations of Northeastern Pennsylvania in 1964-65. The first record of their’s that hit big was Look Through Any Window, a record that I fell in love with on first hearing. Needless to say, I ran out and bought the 45 as soon as I could and it remains one of my all-time faveravers of the ’60s. 


This video features the Hollies on the Hullabaloo television show lip-synching to that record. Note three things:

1. Mr. Avalon’s near complete lack of screen presence;

2. the size of the  five Hollies: each weighs in at around 140 pounds, considerably less than the avarage American male of their age at the time; and

3. the British lads are introduced as a team surrounded by props taken from American football, not the football that they would have played back home (or anywhere else in the world then). In fact, it’s possible that not a one of the Hollies had ever seen an American game of football at the time of this filming . . .


I don’t expect every young person in the western world to know every pop artist of the past who are now relegated to ‘golden oldies’ radio formats. But I do think that educated people from a specific town/city/province/area should know a few things of historical, artistic, or social significance from that area.

For example, I would not be surprised if a 25-year old with a high school education from Biloxi, Mississippi, or Darien, Connecticut, did not understand a reference to “the Big Red Machine.” However, I would probably be a blown away if a 65-year old with a high school education from Cincinnati, Ohio, didn’t get the reference!

But what the hey! Those two kids would probably be astounded by my lack of awareness of what’s been happening on the popular music/cultural scene of the past few decades, hennah?

On Cultural Oblivion Part 1 (“Them Or Me, What’s It Gonna Be?”) is not necessarily the beginning of an ongoing series, but it could be. And who gets the ’60s reference in this article’s title?





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