The Hollies - He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

The Hollies - He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

‘He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother’ is a ballad written by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell. Originally recorded by Kelly Gordon in 1969, the song became a worldwide hit for the Hollies later that year and also a hit for Neil Diamond in 1970. It has been recorded by many artists in subsequent years. The Hollies' version was re-released in 1988 and again was a major hit in the UK.

Scott and Russell were introduced to each other by Johnny Mercer, at a California nightclub. Although Russell was dying of lymphoma and the pair met only three times, they managed to collaborate on the song. Russell passed away six months after the song’s release. In 1990, Scott also died of cancer. The inspiration for the song came from a painting that was on display at an orphanage in Scotland. The painting featured a young boy carrying his disabled brother on his back. The quote “He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother” was written underneath the painting, which provided the idea for the lyrics of the song.

The Hollies

The phrase “He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother” is a variation of a famous quote from a poem written by James Wells in 1884. The original quote was “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother; His welfare is my concern; No burden is he to bear; We’ll get there”. The lyrics of the song are about unconditional love and support. The singer tells the story of a brother who is struggling and unable to carry his own burden. But the singer reassures him that he is not alone and that he is willing to help carry his burden. The song is a powerful message of solidarity and empathy.

The Hollies recorded the song in June 1969 at the EMI Studios (now Abbey Road Studios), with Allan Clarke on lead vocals. Elton John, who was working as a session musician at the time, played the piano on the song, as well their next single, ‘I Can't Tell the Bottom from the Top’. The song was released on 26 September 1969 and reached No. 3 in the UK, and No. 7 in the US. The song was re-released in August 1988 in the UK following its use in a television advertisement for Miller Lite beer. It reached the No. 1 spot in the UK chart for two weeks in September 1988.

T-Shirt Sale

Labels – Parlophone, Epic
Songwriters – Bob Russell, Bobby Scott
Producer – Ron Richards


The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where?
Who knows where?
But I'm strong
Strong enough to carry him
He ain't heavy, he's my brother
So on we go
His welfare is my concern
No burden is he to bear
We'll get there
For I know
He would not encumber me
He ain't heavy, he's my brother
If I'm laden at all
I'm laden with sadness
That everyone's heart
Isn't filled with the gladness
Of love for one another
It's a long, long road
From which there is no return
While we're on the way to there
Why not share?
And the load
Doesn't weigh me down at all
He ain't heavy, he's my brother
He's my brother
He ain't heavy, he's my brother
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