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"Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)"
The Hollies
Epic 5-10871
September 1972
Billboard: #2    MIDI Icon Lyrics Icon Videos Icon

The Hollieshe Hollies had formed in 1962 when a pair of childhood friends, Allan Clarke and Graham Nash, decided to give their musical careers a go. Unfortunately both of them had left the band by the time of its greatest chart success, the #2 hit single "Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress."

'Distant Light' - The Hollies
Debuting in the Billboard Top 40 on July 8, 1972, "Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)" was The Hollies' ninth and biggest U.S. hit, climbing to the #2 position on Sept. 2, 1972, and remaining on the chart for 13 weeks. It was the lead track on the band's seventh studio album, Distant Light, which first charted on July 15, 1972, and climbed to #21, remaining on the chart for 21 weeks.
"I was stood up in front of the class," Allan clarke recalled in the liner notes to his group's anthology, The Hollies 30th Anniversary Collection, "and the class was asked who would like to sit next to them, and nobody put their hand up but this little hand at the back, and it was Graham Nash. Thank God he was there. We made pals then." The two friends formed a group called The Fortunes, with Eric Haycock and Don Rathbone. The group played many of the local areas, including the Cavern Club. This is where Ron Richards of EMI discovered the band. Since the group needed a second guitarist for its audition, The Hollies contacted Tony Hicks, who became their permanent fifth member.

The Hollies had been charting for about a year in England by the time they crossed over to America. "Just One Look" didn't make much of a splash, peaking at #98, but their next single, "Look Through Any Window," gave them a Top 40 hit. By 1966, the band gained enough exposure to produce two Top 10 hits, the #5 "Bus Stop" and the #7 "Stop Stop Stop." But the core of the group was starting to splinter. Rathbone had left in 1963, and Haycock was removed in 1966. After a disagreement with Hicks about recording a complete Hollies album with nothing but Bob Dylan covers, Graham Nash left the group in 1968 to join David Crosby and Stephen Stills in Crosby, Stills and Nash. And at the end of 1971, Allan Clarke left for a solo career.

However, even though Tony Hicks was the only original member of The Hollies left at that point, Clarke's voice could still be heard on their 1972 single. Written by Clarke with Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway, "Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)" was a track from Distant Light, Clarke's last album with the band. While the song didn't receive much of a reception in the group's homeland, where the group had become Britain's most consistently successful hit-making machine after the Beatles with an unbroken sequence of 21 Top 20 hits from 1963-1970, in America it was a different story. Entering the charts at #75, the single took 11 weeks to climb to #2, where it stayed for two weeks. The group's follow-up, "Long Dark Road," didn't fare so well, peaking at #26.

After Clarke's solo albums stiffed, he returned to The Hollies in 1973 and sent the group back to the Top 10 with the #6 hit "The Air That I Breathe." He then left again, scoring a #41 hit on his own with "(I Will Be Your) Shadow In The Street," then rejoined The Hollies again. In 1983, Graham Nash reunited with the band, resulting in their #29 cover of The Supremes' "Stop In The Name Of Love."

- Christopher G. Feldman, The Billboard Book of No. 2 Singles, Billboard, 2000.

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