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This contains one of the classic indecipherable lyrics in rock history. The part after "She was a long cool woman in a black dress" is "Just a 5' 9" beautiful tall."
The Distant Light album was out for a year before this song was released as a single. Before the single was released, lead singer Allan Clarke left the group, replaced by Swedish singer Michael Rickfors. After "Long Cool Woman" became a hit in the US, Clarke rethought his solo career and came back. The group released one album with Rickfors, which did not sell well.
On the charts, this was a rare miss in the UK, where the Hollies were from and where they had their greatest success. It was surprising, however, how well it did in the US.
This is the only Hollies single without any backing vocals. The reason why Clarke is the only singer on this record is that he didn't intended the song to be released on a Hollies album, but as a record of his own. When the band learned that he intended to do a solo recording, Clarke was issued an ultimatum - he could either remain with The Hollies or pursue a solo career, but not both. Clarke told Rolling Stone in 1973: "I think with me the band feared that if I got a hit I'd leave. How can you stop destiny? Now, if they originally agreed, I might not even have left. 'Long Cool Woman' would have been released a year earlier, and we'd have done a few tours of the States and maybe would have been really big."
An original member of Depeche Mode, Vince went on to form Erasure and Yaz.
Don Brewer of Grand Funk
The drummer and one of the primary songwriters in Grand Funk talks rock stardom and Todd Rundgren.