MORGANTOWN — Earlier this year, Graham Nash — a founding member of The Hollies and one third of Crosby, Stills & Nash, who has also released a handful of solo albums — won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the UK Americana Awards in London.
But try congratulating the famed English musician and singer-songwriter, who has also been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice and was appointed an officer of the Order of the British Empire.
“The truth is, as old as I am, they start just throwing s*** at you,” said the 77-year-old, laughing.
Nevermind that he’s been at this since the 1960s, when he and school friend Allan Clark started the Hollies, one of England’s most successful pop groups. Or that he made the decision to leave the band, only to achieve greater fame, after meeting David Crosby and Stephen Stills and instantly recognizing the three’s musical chemistry.
“It was an easy decision,” he said of leaving. “I followed my heart. I was making money and I was famous, but that vocal blend of our three voices into one, I knew that was life-changing.”
The group’s structure morphed at times, and the band became a quartet with the addition of Neil Young — when they were known as Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Throughout the various configurations, Nash wrote several of the band’s most popular songs, such as “Our House,” “Teach Your Children” and “Marrakesh Express.”
Still, he remains humble, and explicit.
“I’m just a kid from north of England,” he said. “I’m incredibly lucky. Why me, why the f*** me? I have friends who are equally talented and yet I’ve always followed my heart and here I am all these years later.”
Those interested in learning some of the details of how Nash’s fortune has unfolded, as well as the songs that he’s made along the way, will get a chance Friday, when he performs “An Intimate Evening of Songs & Stories” at
7:30 p.m. at the WVU Creative Arts Center.
“It’s very freeing,” Nash said of concert series’ smaller venue sizes. “In these theaters, I get to see the audience’s reactions. When you’re playing for thousands and thousands of people you don’t get that chance.
“My audience needs to know I want to be there making music for them. I’m not going to phone it in. I am performing these songs with the same passion I had when I wrote them.”
When making up a setlist for the series, Nash said he did some online research to figure out fans’ 15 favorite songs. He will share unreleased demos of those songs and discuss the process of creating them.
“Some of them were experiences that happened to me,” he said. “People want to know what’s in your head and how you came to write that. So I’ll talk about that.”
He also said that he tries his best to engage with as many attendees as possible, partly because Nash knows firsthand how much an interaction with your favorite entertainer can mean.
“In 1962, The Everly Brothers played in Manchester, outside where Allan Clark and I lived. … The best hotel was 150 feet from where they were playing. We figured they were going to stay there. Me and Allan missed the last bus, we had a nine-mile walk home in the cold. But we met The Everly Brothers, and they treated us like friends. … I’ll never forget that feeling.
“So, I want people to know that I looked them in the eye, and if they meet me, I’ll sign anything. I want them to know that they’re important in my life.”
- Graham Nash will bring his “Intimate Evening of Songs & Stories” concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday to the WVU Creative Arts Center. Tickets start at $39 for the general public and $29 for WVU students. They are on sale at the Mountainlair and CAC box offices, ticketmaster.com, and by phone at 304-293-SHOW (7469) and 1-800-745-3000. WVU student discounted tickets are limited to one per valid WVU Student ID or offer code. Discounted rates for groups of 10 or more are available by calling 304-293-8221.