The Road Is Long - The Justice Collective
"He Ain't Heavy... He's My Brother" is a hugely popular 1969 ballad written by Bob Russell and Bobby Scott. Many people think that it was originally recorded by The Hollies. However, although The Hollied became a worldwide hit for them, it was originally recorded by Kelly Gordon in 1969.
Neil Diamond also recorded it as a single in 1970. It can also be found on his Taproot Manuscript album.
However, arguably its most emotive version - certainly for Liverpool fans and friends and families of the Hillsborough victims - the song was re-recorded in December 2012 by the Justice Collective in remembrance of the Hillsborough disaster on 15th April 1989.
This version of the song was recorded, and was released on 17 December, by musicians and celebrities performing under the name of The Justice Collective.
Stars performing on the single included Melanie Chisholm, Robbie Williams, Paloma Faith, Paul McCartney, Paul Heaton, Rebecca Ferguson, Gerry Marsden and Beverley Knight to name a few from the world of music and Reds legend Kenny Dalglish, Alan Hansen and Peter Reid from the footballing world. See below for full list of performers. The proceeds from the sale of the single was distributed to the various charities in support of the Hillsborough disaster.
The song went on to take the coveted Christmas number 1 position for 2012 in the UK
The Background To Its Release
Members of The Farm together with Mick Jones and Pete Wylie performed at an anti-Sun (the much reviled Sun newspaper) concert at the Liverpool Olympia in September 2011, after the News International phone hacking scandal. The Justice Tonight Band was formed following this. The band toured the United Kingdom and Europe for the next year in order to raise public awareness of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign.[
At first the December 2012 release was to be a re-release of the 2009 single "The Fields Of Anfield Road" originally recorded by The Liverpool Collective which also featured The Kop Choir. However, this idea was not followed through as it was felt that only a relatively small number of people would buy it. Significantly the inspiration to record "He Ain't Heavy...He's My Brother" was as a result of Everton's Hillsborough tribute on 17 September 2012, when the song was played prior to their match against Newcastle United at Goodison Park. The efforts made by Everton Football Club that night and the response by both sets of fans was nothing short of incredible and is so hugely appreciated by Liverpool Football Club and fans alike.
It was decided therefore that a re-recording of this song by various artists including The Justice Tonight Band would be released as the charity single in December 2012.
Guy Chambers was recruited by Keith Mullen of The Farm to produce the single. Guy Chambers also offered the free use of his Sleeper Studios to record the song. On 25 October, Steve Rotheram, Kenny Dalglish and Guy Chambers announced the plans that the single was to be recorded by various artists (full list below) and that it would be released under the name The Justice Collective.
You can listen to a recording of this very moving version in the video clip below
Personnel Involved In The Production
- Andy Brown (Lawson)
- Gerry Marsden (Gerry and the Pacemakers)
- Paul Heaton (The Beautiful South)
- Glenn Tilbrook (Squeeze)
- John Power (Cast, The La's)
- Robbie Williams
- Melanie C
- Rebecca Ferguson
- Holly Johnson (Frankie Goes to Hollywood)
- Beverley Knight
- Paloma Faith
- Eliza Doolittle
- Dave McCabe (The Zutons)
- Peter Hooton (The Farm)
- Ren Harvieu
- Jon McClure (Reverend and The Makers)
- Paul McCartney
- Shane MacGowan (The Pogues)
- Bobby Elliott (The Hollies)
- Tony Hicks (The Hollies)
- Hollie Cook (The Slits)
- LIPA Gospel Choir
- Chris Sharrock (Beady Eye) – drums
- David Catlin-Birch (World Party) – bass
- Paul McCartney – lead guitar
- Mick Jones (The Clash) – electric guitar
- Andrew "Davo" Davitt – acoustic guitar
- Guy Chambers – piano
- Will Pound – harmonica
- Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra – strings
- Richard Blake – trumpet/flugelhorn
- Matthew Lewis – trombone/euphonium
- Meredith Moore – French horn
- Will Roberts – tuba
- Guy Chambers – producer
- Richard Flack – producer, engineer
- Oliver Som – engineer
- Liam Nolan – engineer
- Chris Taylor – engineer
- Jon Withnall – engineer
- Tony Draper – engineer
- Alec Brits – engineer