By Michael Aushenker
Terry Sylvester can thank Graham Nash for his career.
To paraphrase a Biblical saying, “When one door closes, another one opens,” and one of the greatest examples of rock history testing this maxim is when Nash left U.K. chart-toppers’ The Hollies, one of the biggest bands of the 1960s British Invasion, allowing the group to replace him with Sylvester on vocals and guitar in 1968.
Today a solo artist, Sylvester heads a bill at McCabe’s Guitar Shop on Sunday night that will include Debbi Peterson, founding member of the 1980s all-girl pop band The Bangles.
Sylvester’s personal and professional history had already intertwined with the progenitors of the British Invasion before he ever showed up at The Hollies’ doorstep. Born in 1947 in Liverpool, England, Sylvester lived a short walk away from brothers Paul and Mike McCartney. At 15, he worked for a year as an apprentice panel beater for Peter Harrison, older brother of one George Harrison. As if this much Beatles crossover were not enough, Sylvester’s group, The Escorts, regularly opened for The Fab Four at the now-world-famous Cavern Club in the early 1960s.
When Sylvester joined The Hollies after Nash departed the group over creative differences and the other members chose to record an album’s worth of Bob Dylan covers, Sylvester began writing and recording hits for the band, including: “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” “I Can’t Tell the Bottom From the Top,” “The Air That I Breathe” and “Long Dark Road.”
Nash, of course, went on to form Crosby, Stills and Nash.
Sylvester also sang vocals on an Alan Parsons Project album before leaving The Hollies in 1981. He rejoined the band onstage in Cleveland when The Hollies were inducted in the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.
Adding more Bangle for your buck is Peterson, who will take the stage prior to Sylvester this weekend.
It was, in fact, around the time Sylvester went solo that two all-girl pop bands, The Go-Go’s and The Bangles, began slugging it out on the top of Billboard’s pop charts for dominance across the bulk of the Me Decade. In 1981, drummer Peterson, with older sister and guitarist Vicki Peterson-Cowsill and lead singer-songwriter Susanna Hoffs, had burned through a succession of band names — The Colours, The Supersonic Bangs, The Bangs — before settling on The Bangles.
With the Bangles, Peterson enjoyed worldwide success with a slew of hits, including “Walk Like An Egyptian,” “Eternal Flame,” the Simon & Garfunkel cover “Hazy Shade of Winter” and the Prince-penned “Manic Monday.”
Expect Sylvester to sing a chunk of his Hollies hits mixed in with his solo output while Peterson will no doubt sing on her Bangles vocal outing, “Be With You.”
Now if Peterson will only reprise her lead vocals on her 1984 Bangles hit “Going Down to Liverpool,” that would tie the evening together in a nice little bow, wouldn’t it?
Terry Sylvester of The Hollies and Debbi Peterson of The Bangles perform Sunday, with John Wicks of The Records opening at 8 p.m., at McCabe’s Guitar Shop, 3101 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. $20. Call (310) 828-4497 or visit mccabes.com.