Salford school pals Allan Clarke and Graham Nash were the backbone of world-famous Manchester band The Hollies.

The pair founded the group in December 1962 after singing together from an early age. Joining them were Vic Steele on lead guitar and Eric Haydock on bass. Don Rathbone was on drums.

Clarke was The Hollies original lead singer and co-wrote many of the band’s songs with Nash and Tony Hicks, who replaced Steele on lead guitar in 1963.

The Hollies notched up 30 chart singles in the UK, with 17 making the Top Ten.

Allan Clarke, far left, with Manchester group The Hollies, June 1965

Allan Clarke, far left, with Manchester group The Hollies, June 1965

Two singles – I’m Alive in 1965 and the 1988 re-issue of He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother – made the No. 1 slot.

Clarke also played harmonica and guitar in the band, which included Bobby Elliot on drums from 1963 and Bernie Calvert as bass guitarist from 1966.

The Clarke-Nash-Hicks combination composed the three Hollies’ albums For Certain Because released in 1966 and Evolution and Butterfly, both released in 1967.

Their compilation album The Hollies’ Greatest Hits went to No. 1 in the UK charts in August 1968. It featured hits like Just One Look and Here I Go Again from 1964 and I Can’t Let Go and Bus Stop from 1966.

Clarke started writing solo songs for The Hollies in 1967 and became the group’s figurehead after Nash left in December 1968.

He was the sole lead singer on the 1969 album Hollies Sing Dylan which went to No. 3 in the UK charts.

Clarke also wrote songs with Nash’s replacement Terry Sylvester. These included Look at Life in 1969 and I Wanna Shout in 1970.

Clarke did not stay long in The Hollies after his old school friend Nash had left. He quit the group in 1971 to work on his own projects. Two solo albums followed – My Real Name Is ‘Arold released in 1972 and Headroom in 1973.

Hollies’ lead singer and song-writer Allan Clarke, October 1988

Hollies’ lead singer and song-writer Allan Clarke, October 1988

Clarke’s song Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress, written with Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway, was a success for The Hollies in 1972. It reached No. 2 in the US charts.

It was not long before Clarke returned to the fold. He was back with The Hollies in 1973, but still releasing his own work at the same time. This included guest vocals on the album I Robot by the Alan Parsons Project in 1977.

Another break from the group came in March 1978 but only lasted five months. During that time Clarke made the album I Wasn’t Born Yesterday with singer-songwriter Gary Benson.

Clarke released his final solo album – Reasons to Believe – in Germany in 1990. It did not go on sale in the US or UK.

In 1993, Clarke teamed up with Nash and The Hollies to create a new version of Peggy Sue Got Married for the Not Fade Away tribute album to Buddy Holly.

Clarke retired from the music industry in 1999 after medical problems with his vocal cords.

He and The Hollies were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2010.