My Abbey Road: Bobby Elliott #AbbeyRoad90

4th December 2021

My Abbey Road... with Bobby Elliott. The Hollies' drummer is up next in our My Abbey Road series.

From his first session, to recording with Peter Sellers, Burt Bacharach and Elton John, discover Bobby's Abbey Road story!

 
In 1963 an old Ford Thames van rattled down the M1 motorway. The battered vehicle contained five young members of The Hollies, three guitar cases, two amps and my drum kit. We were heading south from the industrial North of England: the land of coal mines and cotton mills, to the green and pleasant suburbs of north west London and EMI Recording Studios on Abbey Road.

We entered by the side door and each of us carried our equipment into the studio assisted by helpful porters Little Terry and Wobbly John. We came to know them well.
 
Once we were set and in position, the red recording light glowed and we powered into our musical offering with gusto. Today, listening to those early Parlophone recordings, I can feel the sparkling enthusiasm that we emitted. Maybe we were a little too eager to prove ourselves. We were still in live performance mode from the previous nights raving gig in Liverpool’s Cavern or maybe Manchester’s Oasis Club.

One mic over my drums, one on Tony’s Vox amp, another on bass player Eric’s Fender amp and three Neumann U47s, set for The Hollies frontline vocalists: Graham Nash, Allan Clarke and Tony Hicks. No tracking back then. We recorded our performance onto quarter inch tape.

Over the many years of making records in the old place we have witnessed the advancement in recording techniques: from limited overdubs to an infinite number of available tracks – but remixing in those early days was a piece of cake.
 
On one occasion I was in the canteen waiting to buy a cup of tea. I was standing between composers John Barry on my left and André Previn to my right. At the back of the queue was guitarist Hank Marvin. No airs and graces just everyday chat about the English weather.
 
In 1965 The Hollies and I met Burt Bacharach whilst we were in Hollywood. A few months later, in studio two, we recorded the title track for the movie, ‘After the Fox’. I was on drums, Tony guitar and then a problem – no bass player. Eric hadn’t turned up.

Ron Richards made a phone call and Jack Bruce arrived, jotted his bass part down and we all launched into the session. Jack told us that he and his friends were in the process of forming a new band - Cream. During the recording Burt played harpsichord and after numerous takes the third one was chosen by producer Ron.
 
Then Peter Sellers arrived. He was there to add the comedy asides to our vocals. George Martin oversaw Peter’s work.
We were hopeful that we might hear some of his Goon Show type humour, but all we saw was a pretend karate chop to the Steinway grand piano.

In 1969, that piano was played by Elton John when he joined us in studio two, to lay the rhythm track for our international hit, ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’.
Don't miss The Hollies live next year! Tickets available here.
 

Related News