After dropping by Waterstones and reading random passages from Graham Nash Wild Tales many times, I finally came clean and purchased the paperback of this man of distinction, and thought I’d write a book review.
I cannot get the words out any faster: an iconic ‘Child’ of the sixties, self-confessed hippy, sublime songwriter, and all around good guy has come out with a most revealing Biog – the tough, honest story of a rag-to-riches Salford boy who spent a big part of his youth supporting his family.
Graham Nash was apparently so poor at one stage that he had to borrow his mum’s shoes, not possessing a pair of his own! He could earn more from gigging, even in his early teens, than his family were making themselves. Ultimately young Graham was left supporting his family when his dad was sent to prison for the petty crime of receiving a stolen camera. His dad had bought it for his son as a gift, but refused to give up the name of the person he bought it from – because that would have been ‘splitting’ on him, not something you did in those days. Therefore he got a heavy sentence.
Graham was lucky enough to avoid a depressing career in The Salford Mills (yes those Lowry ones) who were the main employers in Manchester at the time. Together with Alan Clarke (Graham’s best friend and fellow singer) he gigged around Manchester, eventually forming the Hollies – a staggering pop band – chartwise on a par with the Beatles, Kinks and Stones. They had over a dozen songs in the top ten – quite something! My own father loved the Hollies as much as the Beatles. However, I do remember him complaining about Nash’s nasal sound, but no-one could take anything away from his perfect pitching.
Graham and Alan met The Everley Brothers when they appeared in Manchester, hanging out at their hotel chatting after returning late from a gig – though at the cost of missing the 9 mile bus journey home! Nash performed with them years later adding a third harmony to the boys’ songs. Graham moved to America while at the top of his game, teaming up to form the first supergroup Crosby Stills And Nash, performing at Woodstock back in 1969 with one of the worst PA systems to work with. Surprisingly they did a wonderful job!
My friend Albert Lee says Graham keeps phoning him trying to get him to sell his Everley ‘Jumbo’ (big acoustic Gibson guitar) that one of the boys gave to him in the early 80’s. I have played this beauty myself – a songwriters dream of a guitar!
Inevitably this is a book full of Rock and Roll excess with many many casualties along the way. Pages full of love for his music, old girlfriends, justice for mankind and a great care for this planet of ours. A remarkable story and well worth the read!
You can pick up a book/cd/audiobook of Graham Nash’s Wild Tales, here.