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Interview by Greg Phillips. Live shots by Marty Williams.

Experiencing legendary singer, songwriter Graham Nash’s current European tour must be like sitting through a fascinating contemporary music history lesson. He’s playing up to two dozen songs nightly, traversing his entire career from Hollies hits to Crosby Stills & Nash classics to Graham Nash solo material including his new album ‘Now’, plus tributes to his own musical heroes in between. Australian and New Zealand audiences can expect a similar journey when the two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer arrives in Australia in March for his ’60 years of Songs and Stories’ tour. Not only will you hear timeless radio tunes such as Bus Stop, Marrakesh Express, Our House, Teach Your Children, Chicago, Military Madness, Just A Song Before I Go and so many more but also nods and winks to those who have influenced Nash, such as The Beatles (A Day In The Life) and Buddy Holly (Everyday).

The key to Graham’s passion for music and his longevity in the industry is that he’s never stopped being music fan himself. You might think, well aren’t all musicians music fans? Yes of course, however you’d be surprised to learn how many musicians don’t find time to sit down and listen to music for pure enjoyment or explore artists outside of their own musical worlds because they are so busy working. Speaking to Australian Musician editor Greg Phillips in between European gigs, Nash expands.

“That is very true. I am really a fan of music,” he says. “I think it is the ultimate form of communication. I have been a fan of music and what we have being doing all my life. I’m a very curious man. I want to know why this song effects me like this, why that song effects me like this. I’m a fan of music absolutely.”

While Nash is huge part of contemporary music history himself, he also has a great appreciation of music history in general. He appreciates the significance of playing historic venues like Carnegie Hall or the Royal Albert Hall, they mean something to him. He recorded at Big Pink in upstate New York once because of the history and his love for The Band. He watches music documentaries and reads music books. He loved Peter Jackson’s Get Back documentary on The Beatles. “Brilliant,” he says. “I loved it. I loved seeing John and Paul standing in each other’s face, shouting words at each other. It was wonderful to see that process.”

His admiration of music history also extends to the instruments that he collects. He owns Johnny Cash’s first acoustic as well as Don Everly’s 1962 guitar. And for further proof of his fandom, watch the YouTube clip of Graham Nash being presented with the chance to play Buddy Holly’s acoustic guitar and witness the wonder in his eyes as he holds the revered instrument. Yet in regard to his own guitars, he’s not as emotionally invested.

“I can’t find my original black Epiphone guitar that I wrote Teach Your Children on and Marrakesh Express and you know, stuff like that. I’m only emotionally attached to a couple of my guitars, the rest of them are just tools.”

So what was the spark was that lit Graham’s flame for music in the first place?

“Lonnie Donegan,” he says without missing beat. “He brought skiffle to England. He was an Irish folk singer who had gone to America and hung out with people like Lead Belly and stuff and he brought this very simple music back to England. Of course young kids didn’t have much to do except kick a ball around maybe, you know. So skiffle lit my flame and then of course the American top 40 on a Sunday night from Radio Luxembourg, which was great.”

Not long ago, Graham Nash and fellow Hollies main man Allan Clarke got back together to record some music. Clarke had sadly lost his voice for almost two decades due to vocal cord issues and recently found that his voice had been restored enough to sing. Excited by the opportunity, he contacted Nash to request help in writing some songs and singing with him on a new album, titled ‘I’ll Never Forget’.

In a lovely piece of serendipity Nash penned a song called Buddys Back, an ode to Buddy Holly. The song not only also appears on Allan Clarke’s solo album but on Nash’s new album ‘Now’ as well.
“Buddy Holly was a great influence on us of course, we were The Hollies,” exclaimed Nash. “We loved Buddy and I did write that song for Allan’s album. On his album he sings the lead and I join him on the choruses and on my album I sing the lead and he joins me on the choruses.”

It’s been quite a sentimental year for Nash, particularly with the death of his long time collaborator David Crosby in January.

“He was a brilliant man,” Nash reflects. “He had a great brain, was incredibly funny. He had an unbelievable stock of one-liners he would lay out on people. But I do choose to only remember the good stuff that happened between us. I only choose to remember the music that we made and the good times we had because the rest of it is just worthless.”

“It was very sad. It was a terrible shock but I mean the truth is, even Crosby would laugh at this … we expected him to die decades ago! So did he but he made it to 81 and he died in his bed at home.”

A memorial for David Crosby is currently being planned for 2024 by the late singer, songwriter’s wife Jan Dance, although plans are at a very early stage.

“Any memorial that Jan D, his wife is planning for David next year will include great songwriters,” said Nash. “Absolutely and we know a lot of great songwriters and that’s how David will be memorialised.”

The death of Croz and the upcoming memorial has led to a reconciliation between Stephen Stills, Neil Young and Graham Nash and that hasn’t always been the way in a chequered career relationship. However, the music that they made together will always eclipse the personal irritations. The harmonies that CSN sang together were like no other and I often pondered whether they spent  an inordinate amount of time recording takes or if they generally nailed them early?

“No we were pretty good, we knew what we were doing,” Nash recalls. “Normally we would just sing around one microphone and I would have to sing about a foot away because my high parts tend to cut through more than the low parts. We did things in one take. At one point Stephen wanted to re-record the Suite. It took us eleven hours to redo the Suite and then Stephen said, nah we got it the first time.”

For an artist who has achieved so much in his career, I wondered if anything might be left on his bucket list?

“I wanna sing Yesterday with Paul McCartney, just his acoustic guitar and two voices,” he said immediately. Nash last came across McCartney just a few months ago and it seems it has planted a seed for him.

“It was about 4 months ago,” Nash remembers. “There was a show of his entire music at Carnegie Hall in New York City. He wrote me a nice note. I did ‘For No One’ and he wrote me a nice little note about how much he enjoyed it.”

And how would Graham Nash like to be remembered?

“I’d like to be remembered as someone who tried to his best. I tried to be the best musician, best husband, the best father, the best friend and I’ll never make it but at least I am trying.”

Here’s the full chat between Graham Nash and Greg Phillips

The 2024 Australia and New Zealand Graham Nash tour begins on March 1st in Auckland and features Todd Caldwell on keyboards and vocals and Shane Fontayne on guitar and vocals.


Tickets are available from


Friday 1st March – Civic Theatre, Auckland

Sunday 3rd March – Isaac Theatre, Christchurch

Thursday 7th March – Palais Theatre, Melbourne

Port Fairy Folk Music Festival 

Wednesday 13th March – Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Adelaide

Saturday 16th March – His Majesty’s Theatre

Tuesday 19th March – Sydney Opera House, Sydney

Wednesday 20th March – Civic Theatre Newcastle

Saturday 23rd March – Anitas Theatre, Wollongong

Tuesday 26th March – QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane

Wednesday 27th March – Twin Towns, Tweed Heads

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