In The Hotseat with Bobby Elliott

The Hollies white sunset
The Hollies white sunset

The Hollies are known for their distinctive vocal harmony style, and became one of the leading British groups of the 1960s and 1970s.

They are one of the few British pop groups of the early 1960s that have never officially broken up and continue to record and perform.

Having appeared at the Futurist Theatre, Scarborough last weekend, reporter Rhys Howell managed to talk to drummer Bobby Elliott who took time out to answer our In The Hotseat questions.

1. What are your first memories of Whitby?

I visited as a very young child during a holiday with my parents but I cannot really remember too much about it.

2. What would be your ideal day in Whitby?

Eating fish and chips. We (The Hollies) were on tour not so long ago and on the way to Newcastle we stopped off in Whitby for fish and chips.

3. What makes Whitby so special to you?

I have more memories of Scarborough than of Whitby. I have fond memories of spending time in Peasholm Park as a child as well as being with my old friend Jimmy Savile, whom we met when he was hosting talent shows in Manchester in the 1960s.

4. Who would you rather be – Dracula or Captain Cook?

Captain Cook because he made a lot of discoveries. He discovered New Zealand and we have toured there and it is a lovely place and their wine is beautiful. So there’s something we have Captain Cook to thank for.

5. Bram Stoker, Lewis Carroll and many others drew inspiration from here – what inspires you?

The ruggedness and friendliness of the north has inspired some of our music and I think that a lot of that comes through in our songs. For me personally, I was inspired as a child at school by music and it has never left me.

6. William Scoresby, Arctic explorer, was from Whitby and he invented the crows nest – what would you invent?

A car engine that doesn’t use fossil fuel but that is still capable of the same performance as one that does.

One thing that I would do away with is the drum machine.

7. Captain Cook is a hero to many in Whitby, who is your personal hero?

It is hard to choose one person but I would have to for someone like Nelson Mandela. He changed the world.

8. Cook apprenticed here in Whitby – what was your first job?

I was an apprentice as well. I started an apprenticeship with the coalboard. I was a mechanic, it was a rough job. I didn’t finish it as I went professional as a drummer.

9. He approached life as an explorer, always looking forward – what has been your motto for life?

Just get on with it. If you put your mind to it you can do anything that you want to as long as you are prepared to work hard, make sacrifices and stay focussed.

10. If you were stuck on a desert island, what four people would you want to be stuck with?

My partner, Sue, my good friend John Pratt and his wife Rowena, and Oscar Peterson who was a famous jazz pianist, so we could make music together.

11. Whitby is famous for fish and chips, where do you think you get the best fish and chips?

There are a couple of really special chippies in Skipton, just 10 minutes from where I live.

12. We’ve also got a long history of taverns – what is your favourite watering hole?

Anywhere that serves real ale. As a band we are on a permanent quest on tour to find the nearest pub that sells good quaffing ale under 4 per cent as soon as we come off stage.

13. Dracula has a few bad habits – what is your worst habit?

My sense of humour often gets me into trouble. I often make light of things that I shouldn’t. Even when people are talking about something serious I can always see a joke in it somewhere.

14. When was the last time you cried?

Films and music can often make me emotional.

15. Dracula is a famous book based in Whitby – what is your favourite book?

Something by Charles Dickens. ‘A Christmas Carol’ is wonderful.

16. It has also been made into a lot of films – what is your favourite film?

We were recording in Hollywood in the early 1980s and we were invited to the first public showing of ET. That was an amazing experience, I think I cried at that one. There are a lot of films that I am really fond of, but the experience of seeing ET in Los Angeles really stands out.

17. No day by the seaside is complete without an ice cream – what flavour would you invent?

I’m not sure about inventing something but my favourite combination is vanilla ice-cream with chocolate and raspberry sauce and a flake.

18. Whitby is still a prime holiday destination – where was your last holiday?

The resort of Deia in Mallorca. I really feel at home there. The hotel is very quiet but if you go out into the village there are plenty of bars, restaurants and coffee shop. Andrew Lloyd-Webber has a home there and goes and sits and plays the piano in some of the local bars.

19. What do you hope to achieve in the future?

Peace on earth would be nice.

20. What would your epitaph be?

‘I told you I was ill!’ like Spike Milligan. Hopefully it would be ‘A great drummer and a nice guy’.