Timothy Gordon Hollier (Brighton, U.K., June 1947 - July 5, 2017) was an English psychedelic folk singer-songwriter.
Born in Brighton in 1947, Hollier was raised in West Cumberland, and at age 13 formed his first group, the Meteors, with a group of friends from school. He attended art college and played as part of a folk duo called the Sovereigns in the mid-'60s. He later moved to London to study graphic design, and got involved in the folk scene there, seeing some limited success as an opening act for such well-known figures as blues songstress Jo Ann Kelly and visiting American Paul Simon.
An introduction to Simon Napier-Bell – a music figure best remembered today as the man who inherited the Yardbirds' management from Giorgio Gomelsky – got Hollier to the next phase of his career, a proper recording contract. Napier-Bell got Hollier signed with United Artists Records' U.K. division, a much more adventurous outfit than its American parent company. Where the latter was still relying on soundtracks and recording Jay & the Americans, the U.K. United Artists outfit was downright experimental, cutting psychedelic sides by Del Shannon; it wouldn't be long before they'd sign up Brinsley Schwarz and the Flamin' Groovies. It was at UA that Hollier recorded his first album, Message to a Harlequin, in mid-1968; released in October of that year, it was a tremendous showcase for Hollier's excellent voice and challenging, psychedelic-flavored songs, elaborately produced and reminiscent in many ways of the first two albums by Duncan Browne.
The album – although not especially successful in England – even managed to get a U.S. release on the company's Imperial Records imprint. Hollier made slow progress in finding an audience over the ensuing year, playing on some of his UA labelmate Peter Sarstedt's records and getting some exposure on the BBC, and also collaborating on stage and record with American songwriter Amory Kane. He left UA in 1969 and signed with Fontana Records, which issued his self-titled, self-produced second album in the summer of 1970. It failed to sell, and a year later a similar fate befell his third album, Sky Sail, released on Philips. By 1973, he'd shifted gears somewhat in his career, and went into the production end, forming his own label, called Songwriters Workshop – among those who signed up was Peter Sarstedt.
By the 1980s, Hollier had moved into music publishing, and later went into movie financing – his company, Filmtrax, not only scored movies, but also helped produce such pictures as Withnail and I (which, ironically, dealt with the closing days of the 1960s, the period in which Hollier had the bad fortune to start his recording career). In the decades since, he has remained a major figure in the field of music copyrights amid the boom in new technologies and media.
Tim Hollier was one of the most unfairly neglected of folk-based artists to come out of late-'60s England, his brand of trippy, quietly elegant psychedelic folk-rock deserving an infinitely wider hearing than it got – not that he ultimately did badly in music, but he deserved better earlier.
Born in June 1947 in Brighton (Sussex), TIM HOLLIER (v, g) soon re-located with his family to Seascale (West Cumberland). At school he met ROD ALEXANDER (g, later with V.I.P.'s, Green Bullfrog and Axe) and in 1960 they formed The METEORS together with TERRY HEWITT (b) and MIKE BERESFORD (d, soon replaced first by KEITH HENDERSON and then by BRIAN "Chico" GREENWOOD, later of Jasper, Trifle, Moonrider, Gonzalez, Nicky James and Patrick Hernandez). In 1963 Tim went to Carlisle Art College and while studying he played with some success on the local folk club scene in a duo called SOVEREIGNS (with his cousin ROBBIE PECKFORD). A couple of years later Tim moved to London to attend the London College of Graphic Design, where he met Canadian guitaristsinger RICK CUFF: the two began playing together and performed live in the capital city's venues of the time opening for well known acts, such as Jo-Ann Kelly, Roy Harper and even Paul Simon. Thanks to Charlie Crane (singer with Cryin' Shames and Gary Walker & The Rain), Tim came into contact with SIMON NAPIER-BELL, who was working with DAVID HEMMINGS' Hemdale Company, and in June '68 he signed for United Artists. With a good budget from the label and the help of fine musicians of the calibre of JOHN CAMERON, Gerry Conway, Herbie Flowers and David & Jonathan, Tim recorded his debut long-player "Message To A Harlequin", which was issued in October 1968. The album was full of delicate and intimate atmospheres and included three outstanding compositions: the title-track, "Mr.Carroll" and "Full Fathoms Five" (with lyrics taken from a Shakespeare sonnet). All songs were co-signed by Hollier (music) and his friend RORY FELLOWES (lyrics), in his turn author of "Nina", a lovely single issued a few weeks later on Simon Napier-Bell's own label, SnB. This 7" was in a quite different style anyway, as Rory was backed by an electric band of session musicians, led by the well known trombonist and British radio personality George Chisholm with members of his band, which produced a sound fusing Trad Jazz, Blues and 'Swingin' London' beat. Rory and Tim would collaborate again (though in a progressively diminishing measure) on Tim's subsequent LPs. "Message To…", produced by ex-Nirvana (and Napier-Bell business partner) RAY SINGER, received lukewarm reviews by the UK press, with John Cameron's arrangements possibly being considered a bit too heavily orchestrated. The album was nevertheless licensed for release in the USA (Imperial 12433 housed in a slightly altered cover) and even in Italy (United A. UAS 9036). At the same time Tim also played on Peter Sarstedt's first two albums (also produced by Singer), the first of which included the successful "Where Do You Go To My Lovely". In November 1968 Tim (by then managed by Terry King, who would later work with Caravan and Fuchsia and founded Kingdom Records) played on BBC Radio1 "Night Ride" show singing a few tracks lifted from the 33, like "I Search For Small Distractions" (actually entitled "In The Light Of Sadness"), plus the new "Song To A Room " (maybe an early take of "In This Room"?). In March '69 music magazine Beat Instrumental wrote that Tim was recording his first single, but it failed to appear. In the same month Tim met American songwriter AMORY KANE (who had just issued a largely overlooked 1968 LP), and they began playing gigs complete with light show, sound effects, the accompaniment of Rick Cuff and, as it happened at Wigmore Hall in May '69, whilst performing in the final number "Evolution", along with Rick and Jack the young DAVID BOWIE appeared on stage in full space suit costume and created a dance ending with his almost naked body stricken on the stage. There were rumours of the possible issue of a live album of these events but nothing emerged, with Tim and United Artists eventually parting company. Undeterred, Hollier decided to set up his own publishing company -a strategic move, as we will later see!- and began working with other artists (like Rick Cuff and chilean Hector Sepulveda) without much success, then briefly moved to New England-USA before returning to the UK to record some new tracks. Spring 1970 saw the release of his first 7", the evocative "In This Room". On April 4, Tim played on the BBC programme 'Country Meets Folk' and ten days later he embarked on his first US tour. While in England he opened for acts as different as Joe Cocker, Third Ear Band and Nick Drake, often helped on stage by Rod Alexander, Tim Kraemer (cel, later with Esperanto), Colin Craig (pn) and Phil & Steve Miller (from Delivery). In July 1970 Tim's second and self-produced album, simply entitled "Tim Hollier", was finally issued and showed the fruits of his collaboration with Kane: the long-player featured a few live tracks (probably taped the previous year at the Wigmore gigs) plus cover versions of Kane's "Maybe You Will Stay", from Amory's debut LP, and of the adventurous "Llanstephan Hill" and "Evolution", both lifted from Kane's "Just To Be There" album, which was issued at the same time: it's frankly difficult to choose whose version is the best! Hollier and Kane partly used the same backing musicians, in particular the good percussionist Ned Balen (who played with Shackey Vick, Mick Softley and Mick Greenwood) and Rick Cuff designed both covers artworks. "Tim Hollier" inexplicably failed to sell, a criminally neglected gem whose rarity has prevented it from receiving the praise it vastly deserves. On August 15, 1970, on the same day as the new single "Sky Sail" had been scheduled for release (it would be eventually shelved), Tim played again on the 'Country Meets Folk' BBC programme and in September returned to the USA, while a Belgian tour was announced for November, together with the recording of a new album. In the meantime Tim had appeared on various shows for Grampian, Border and Tyne Tees television as well as BBC's Late Night and Disco2. The third and final "proper" Tim Hollier LP was issued in March 1971, once again arranged by John Cameron. Here Tim sang three Rick Cuff-penned songs, of which especially "Tenderly Stooping Low" (already sung by Amory Kane on his second long-player) was particularly noteworthy. Cameron's orchestrations were at times too mellow, but songs like "And I Wait For That" (co-written by photographer JEREMY TAUNTON) and "Time Has A Way Of Losing You" (with lyrics by Rory Fellowes) still stand out. Amory Kane, Tim Kraemer, Harold McNair, Tony Carr and Bill LeSage played on this album, the last track of which was the impressive "While London's Days Increase" (lyrics by Fellowes). After a second (and final) single, issued in July 1971, which included a cover of Gordon Lightfoot's "The Circle Is Small", Tim Hollier's recording career halted for a while. On January 14, 1972, Tim played at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall together with David McWilliams (on his comeback after a few years of absence) and Peter Sarstedt: the concert was probably taped by the BBC but remains so far unreleased. TV and Radio work would be Tim's main interest for the next few years: he composed hundreds of jingles and occasionally recorded a few proper songs, such as those for the Yorkshire TV documentary "Story of Mill Reef - Something To Brighten The Morning", the soundtrack of which would get a vinyl release on the York label in October 1974. This album featured six new songs by Tim, three of which had a spoken introduction by Albert Finney. "Free and Easy", "Kingsclere Morning", "Don't Be Afraid" and "We'll Remember You" were pleasant offerings in classic Hollier style. Towards the end of the decade Tim formed SOFT ROCK a popfolk outfit also featuring JAMIE JAUNCEY, CHRIS COOKSEY and LINDA TAYLOR. The group would record a lone single and a now scarce album ("Ice Cream, Blue Jeans and Diamonds"), featuring "The Dreamer", a nice song co-written with old pal Rod Alexander, who also played lead guitar on that track. Following Soft Rock's demise, Hollier founded The Songwriters Workshop label (whose roster comprised artists ranging from The Edgar Broughton Band and Ed Welch to Juice On The Loose) and then Peach River Records, which included David Knopfler, Julie Andrews and old friend Peter Sartstedt, before turning to music publishing founding the Filmtrax Company, which after becoming one the worlds largest independent music publishers would be sold to EMI in 1990 for quite a large amount! Tim Hollier, after being on the main board of British Academy of Composers and Songwriters, nowadays runs his new company - Music Copyright Solutions plc - and more recently has cofounded with ex-Stones manager Andrew Wilkinson, Kingstreet Media Group incorporating Kingstreet Tours, amongst recent clients have been Robbie Williams, Pink Floyd and Phil Collins. Rory Fellowes became a well-known animation supervisor (his brother Julian was awarded an Oscar for his script of the movie 'Gosford Park'), but continued to write songs and also played with local bands like Barking Dogz and Run The Red till 1993. Amory Kane returned to the USA in the early '70s: he quit music altogether, mainly working for TV networks.
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