Why Did Graham Nash Leave The Hollies?

Singer and musician Graham Nash first broke into the 1960s music scene as a member of The Hollies. The British rock group originally featured Nash, Allan Clarke, Don Rathbone, Vic Steel, and Eric Haydock, according to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The band's name drew from two sources but was chosen hastily before their first-ever gig in December 1962 –- Christmas holly and the legendary performer Buddy Holly. Clarke took on the lead singer role while Nash provided vocals and played rhythm guitar. Steel served as lead guitarist while Haydock handled the bass. Rathbone played drums. Steel soon departed the group and was replaced by Tony Hicks.

While The Hollies started performing regularly by January 1963, the partnership between Nash and Clarke went back much further. The two had met in primary school in Manchester, England, and they began performing together as a duo before eventually forming The Hollies. The band's first hits in the United Kingdom were their own takes on the Coasters' hits "(Ain't That) Just Like Me" and "Searchin" in 1963, per Britannica. The Hollies first hit the American charts with "Look Through Any Window" in 1965 and "Bus Stop" in 1966, according to the Billboard Hot 100.

Graham Nash changed his musical direction

The Hollies went on to have another hit both in the United Kingdom and the United States with the 1967 song "Carrie Anne." The group's sound soon evolved on the rise of psychedelic rock with the release of the albums "Evolution" and "Butterfly," per the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But Nash became resistant to the Hollies' plan to release an album covering songs by Bob Dylan and a chance encounter inspired him to move in a new musical direction. He was in Los Angeles, playing a gig with The Hollies. After the show, Nash met David Crosby and Stephen Stills at Joni Mitchell's apartment and the trio played together there. The way their three voices harmonized proved to be both magical and inspirational.

By the time he met Crosby and Stills, Nash was already feeling restless. He wanted to branch out from The Hollies' more traditional pop fare, as he later explained to The Guardian. Nash wanted to tackle more complex topics in his songs. He began experimenting with drugs, especially marijuana, which had impacted his worldview. In December 1968, Nash decided to exit The Hollies. He told The Guardian in 2015 that it wasn't easy to say goodbye to his bandmates. "They were my friends for many, many years, but when I heard myself singing with David and Stephen that first time" he knew that he had to make a change. Nash's departure from the group damaged his friendship with Allan Clarke.

Graham Nash started a new band

Nash went on to form Crosby, Stills and Nash in 1968, per Britannica. This new musical entity was an early rock supergroup with each member having past success with other acts. Crosby had been with The Byrds and Stills had been a part of Buffalo Springfield. The trio released their first album together, a self-titled effort, in 1969, which proved to be the first of a series of hits for the band.

Nash was eventually able to repair his friendship with Allan Clarke. He was excited to learn in 2009 that The Hollies were being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (via Rolling Stone). Nash was already inducted in 1997 as part of Crosby, Stills and Nash, but he was really pleased to see his friend and other former bandmates receive the recognition they deserved. More recently, Nash and Clarke have reunited musically. The two worked on an album together, according to the Post and Courier, and Nash was over the moon to have this chance to sing with his childhood friend.