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 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.
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