Graham Nash Biography

2 February 1942, Blackpool, Lancashire, England. Guitarist/vocalist Nash embraced music during the skiffle boom. He formed the Two Teens with classmate Allan Clarke in 1955, but by the following decade the duo, now known as Ricky And Dane, had joined local revue Kirk Stephens And The Deltas. In 1961 they broke away to found the Hollies, which evolved from provincial status into one of Britain’s most popular 60s attractions, with Nash’s shrill voice cutting through their glorious harmony vocals. Although their early hits were drawn from outside sources, Nash, Clarke and guitarist Tony Hicks subsequently forged a prolific songwriting team. However, Nash’s growing introspection, as demonstrated by ‘King Midas In Reverse’ (1967), was at odds with his partners’ pop-based preferences and the following year he left to join ‘supergroup’ Crosby, Stills And Nash. Nash’s distinctive nasal tenor instilled a sense of identity to the trio’s harmonies, and although his compositional talent was viewed as lightweight by many commentators, ‘Marrakesh Express’ (originally written for the Hollies), ‘Teach Your Children’ and ‘Just A Song Before I Go’, were all highly successful when issued as singles.

Nash’s 1971 solo debut Songs For Beginners confirmed the artist’s unpretentious, if naïve style with material weaving political statements, notably ‘Chicago’, to personal confessions. Stellar support from his girlfriend Rita Coolidge, plus Jerry Garcia and Dave Mason brought precision to a set which silenced many of Nash’s critics. However, the stark and dour Wild Tales, recorded following the murder of Nash’s girlfriend Amy Gosage, proved less successful and not unnaturally lacked the buoyancy of its predecessor; nevertheless it contained some strong material, including ‘Prison Song’ and ‘Another Sleep Song’.

Nash spent the remainder of the decade as half of Crosby And Nash, or participating in the parent act’s innumerable reunions. He devoted considerable time and effort to charitable and political projects, including No Nukes and M.U.S.E. , but a regenerated solo career was undermined by the poor reception afforded Earth & Sky. Having completed a brief spell in a rejuvenated Hollies (1983), Nash resumed his on-off commitments to Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young. The perplexing solo set Innocent Eyes matched Nash with modern technology: a surfeit of programmed drum machines. The record sounded synthesized and over-produced and was rejected by the critics and public.

Nash’s first love has always been Crosby, Stills And Nash, with or without Young, and history has shown that his best post-Hollies work has been unselfishly saved for group rather than solo activities. Nash’s own stability has enabled him to help his colleagues through numerous problems; he takes much of the credit for David Crosby’s recovery from drug addiction. Nash had a serious boating accident in 1999 resulting in two broken legs above the knee and forcing him to perform with CSNY from a wheelchair. Three years later he completed a new studio album Songs For Survivors, which was released in the pioneering DVD-Audio DTS 5.1 format, although there was little else on the album to get excited about. He teamed up with Crosby in 2004 to record a new duo album, their first in over 25 years.

Nash has taken his share of criticism for his often gentle and trite material in recent years. His strength is as the great unifier of group efforts, and as a superb harmony vocalist. When his voice blends with others (the Hollies and Crosby, Stills and Young) it becomes remarkable.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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