Article image Article image Article image Article image

Credit where credit’s due: Many thanks to newmusicmark for the useful information

Title: Wish you were here
Author: Joanne Harland
Source: No.1 Magazine
Publish date: July 27 1985

In 1985 the Frankie Goes To Hollywood tour of Japan seemed just like any other tour. But it was different in many ways, and so were the people on it.

For a start Frankie had never made the impact in Japan that they had on the rest of the world. Sure, records were sold but the general air remained one of curiosity rather that of excitement.

But after a week in the country, an appearance on a TV programme with over 60 million viewers and two superb live shows, the story looked a little different. Suddenly Frankie were the biggest selling band in the land and Japan has become just another dot on their map of world domination.

And that’s something that one particular member of the touring party will remember for a long time. Sixteen-year-old Joanne Harland from Middleton near Leeds, was the winner of the No.1 Sony Shoot For The Stars competition an spent that eventful week as a guest of the band.

Her winning answer: “I’d like to meet Frankie Goes To Hollywood because they seem a nice, sweet, young innocent bunch of lads that I’m sure I’d come back a reformed person. Then again, I have been known to be wrong.”

Was she? Did she? Find out in the diary that she very kindly kept for us during the week. Then try and answer the next question. Why did we send Paul Bursche out there?

Monday 24th June

Woke up in the Hotel Sheraton at Heathrow (v. posh). It was about 5.30am and I’d hardly been able to sleep at all. Went to the airport around 11am and drank loads of tea (no pint pots, these southerners — tut!).

After going through hell and high water to get a passport the previous week I finally boarded a plane for the first time in my life. It was also my first trip out of England. Taking off was horrible despite Paul Bursche’s continual remarks that I’d love it. One in the air, though, it was like being on the No. 19 bus but with a better view.

So we flew… and flew… and flew…

Tuesday 25th June

…still flying. Stopped at Anchorage in Alaska where we saw and American ‘Relax’ video where all the fans invade the stage.

Arrived in Japan around dinner time — their time — and was WELL KNACKERED. Went straight to our rooms at the Century Hyatt Hotel (even posher1) and slept off a bit of jet-leg. Went to eat around 9pm then waited for the band who had been in earlier and had wanted Paul B to wake me. But he wouldn’t. Still not back by 12.30 (spit) so went to bed.

Wednesday 26th June

This was it. This was definitely it. Today I would meet the band. With most of the nerves gone I went down to breakfast to find Paul B sat with Mike (the sound engineer) and (fanfares places) Mr Brian Nash!

After shaking hands and saying Hullo I was content to sit back and watch the true Nash roll out in front of me. What I saw was and ordinary, working class young lad of 21 enjoying his bacon and eggs and spouting feverishly about the events of the previous night. It sounded fun.

His course Liverpool accent distinguished his as ‘a lad’ and I liked him at once.

Coming out of breakfast with Nash we bumped in to Mark O’Toole. The thing that struck me immediately was his height — he’s massive. He shook my hand too and seemed very nice.

We went to the amusement arcades with Nash — the weather was really clammy an would remain so — and then came back to listen in on an interview or two.

This was where I finally got to meet Ped, Paul and Holly (who instantly reminded me of that old Oscar Wilde photo I’ve got — the one with the boater!).

Had our photos taken with them and was bombarded with various multi-coloured t-shirts. Paul R gave me a silver bracelet (thank you) and Holly asked me if I’d signed on it yet.

Everybody was pissed of with the interviewer who only wanted to talk about Aids and UFOs. Paul B asked a sensible question for her and got himself banned from coming to any more interviews.

Went for some more scran with Mark, Ped and Holly, Holly took some photos of moi (good good) and Mark said I didn’t say much, did I? (Ah-ha, just you wait.)

Went to (hope you’re all going green) Mark’s room to look at his video camera. He filmed me sitting on his bed and said he’d send it to my mum if I didn’t give him lots of money!!!

Then to the TV studios. It feels dead good to walk through a crown of screaming lasses (Frankie fans) with Frankie themselves. Waited around, talked to all the band, especially Paul and Holly cos I was sat near them. Talked to Holly about hitchhiking and breaking into caravans in Pontefract years ago, “I thought I was going to die of hypothermia”.

Told him he reminded me of Oscar Wile and we spent the next ten minutes discussing the Wilde books we’d both read (Holly has read Dorian, Lord Saville’s Crime but not Ballad Of Reading Gaol — I recommended it). He said I mustn’t waste my life away in nightclubs as this would only result in bags under the eyes.

Both has a laugh at Japanese girls’ RIDICULOUS platform shows. Holly: “Oh God, I wouldn’t be seen dead in those, would you?” and then proceeded to take a photo of them — which is his usual Holly-type style was a very long process (“Well, it needs a long exposure”). Tied a scarf around his hat and I put a flower in it — he wore it at the dress rehearsal that was shown later on TV.

More waiting around. Ped and Nash had a hilarious argument about guitars and amps to relieve the boredom. Holly came in and said casually, “I’ve just seen a bunch of American models coming down the corridor.” You couldn’t see Mark for dust!

The TV show seemed very disorganised and FGTH didn’t know what was going on and didn’t look as they cared (that’s my boys!). After the show I was buried under two big bunches of beautiful flowers which I later brightened up my room with.

Got back to the hotel about 11pm. Everyone was worn out and went to bed.

By the way Holly Johnson’s got freckled — oooh!

Thursday 27th June

Got up late. Had breakfast with Ped, Wally (their minder) and Tony Pope (manager). Waited for an hour do Burschey to turn up. He was back at the arcades with Nash and Mark.

When he did we went for a walk around Tokyo. We looked around the shops and Bursche made a complete prat of himself (Not true — Bursche. True — Ed.) trying to order a cup of tea by miming the actions in a bar that only sold noodles. Made a quick exit. Then went around a park and visited a big temple where we stood out like bad pennies as the only Westerners there.

The Japanese are very polite — too polite. They bow to you even if you just pass them in a corridor. The streets are spotlessly clean but the benches are littered with alcoholics and down and outs. Saw some Jap punks — hilarious. Somehow it just doesn’t go.

Everywhere we went we were presented with a hot damp flannel and a glass of cold water — it’s just so humid. Holly describes the Japanese people as “funny but efficient”. I agree.

Got back and went to listen in on an interview with Holly and Nash. Bursche is barred so has to go off with Paul R shopping at Yamamoto’s — the flash designer. The interview was really funny. Nash told me to come and sit with him. These was an interpreter between them, and Holly told them a completely untrue story about Trevor Horn which took them ten minutes to work out.

Then Nasher ordered some sake.

“Have you ever ‘ad sake (the traditional Japanese rice wine),” be asked me.

“No,” I replied.

“You’ll have to try some.”

When it came the jars were much bigger than normal. It was boiling hot and I could hardly pick it up. But it was nice — very nice.

As the interview went on and more sake was drank we couldn’t stop laughing.

“You’re not having any more sake,” Nash told me.

“Why not?”

“It’ll blow your head off. Just wait until you stand up.”

He was right. When I stood up my head began to spin. Nash saw me tottering.

“Has that sake just hit you? ‘Ere come and lay down for a bit.”

After the interview I was left with lots of souvenirs, like autographs which said “Joanne has been drinking sake, love Holly”, I was also given Brian’s toy rubber doll.

When I got down to the lobby Nash has already told everyone that I was “sakied” and with Mark holding one hand and Nash the other we raced over to the arcades where Nash tried to teach me how to win at poker and Ped won me some little toys.

Then back for a TV show, where the Sex Devil sign (a handsign which mysteriously makes the Japanese laugh) was in full use. Holly and Mark answered the questions while the rest just fell about laughing.

Back to the hotel and said Goodnight to Holly. The rest of us were going out to Tokyos, a tacky little club full of American models. The lads were happy. Came back about 3am.

Friday 28th June

Got up in time for dinner and went shopping at the international arcade and bought pressies. Went on the Tokyo tube and on the way back met two fans I’d met previously — Jitsuko and Yuriko. I promised to get the band’s autographs for them.

Then to the soundcheck. The dressing room was full of wigs used for the encores and me, Paul and Holly tried them all on. It was all go in the dressing room before the show. Nasher’s trousers were too big and Paul couldn’t get his boots off. More about the show tomorrow, but as they rushed off at the end Paul thrust a huge bunch of rose in my arms. Afterwards in the dressing room everyone was saying how weird it was but that they’d enjoyed it

Holly asked me if I wanted to go back in the limo with he and Wolfgang (Holly’s minder and secretary) instead of waiting around. I did, and we drove through crowds of screaming fans. When we stopped at traffic lights he tried to shake hands with the fans alongside. We sneaked in the back entrance and then, after hurrying through the lobby full of fans, the three of us went out for a Chinese meal.

Saturday 29th June

Went for more shopping with Paul B. Got back and met Paul Rutherford who took us to his favourite shop in Tokyo — Nicole. It was a beautiful shop and very elegant. I showed Paul some big round earrings that I liked and he showed me some others. While I was looking at the others he bought the big round ones for me — he’s so sweet and kind. I was “made Up” — as the lads would say.

Because of our shopping spree Paul was half an hour late for an interview with Mark. While Paul was getting made-up for the cameras Mark came and sat with me and I showed him what Paul had got me.

Then they had their photos done and Mark had to lay across Paul’s lap. Mark quipped: “Hey up, there’s something sticking in me back.”

“Get lost,” laughed Paul.

Afterwards went for a meal with Paul R and had some more sake. On the way to the restaurant a crowd of really sweet fans ran after Paul and the most outspoken they could be was: “Prease stop! Prease stop!” Which he did. But the fans never kiss them, they only shake their hands and take their photos.

Go to soundcheck with holly. Quite a long drive and we talk all the way there. I ask him to come out with us tonight but he says, “My going out days are over”, and passes on a bit of advice that he was told at 15: “Anyone you meet in a nightclub after ten is no good.”

When we get there Holly makes me a cup of tea; he has honey in his cos of a sore throat and he signs a teabag. He also gives me a “ring out of a lucky bag”. Later I look at it and it’s gold.

We talk until it’s time to get changed into that suit with the massive padded shoulders. He paces around the dressing room (signs some chopsticks, a programme, a t-shirt) and does his hair.

“Are you nervous,” I ask.

“I’ve done too many to be nervous.”

Then we all wait until it’s time to go on.

“Joanne, is my bow tie straight?” asks Mark.

I straighten it for him and kiss him good luck. The lights go down. Holly looks extremely calm.

“Good luck,” I whisper.

“You’re supposed to say ‘break a leg’.”

“Well, go break a leg then.”

On they go. They start off with their backs to the audience who scream and cheer with delight. The front row stay stood at their seats, which I find amazing. In England they’d be packed along the front.

Holly does that laugh and roars “WELCOME” then they plunge into ‘War’, followed by ‘Wish You Were Here’ and ‘Only Star In Heaven’. As soon as they get on stage, to me, they seem to change. Offstage they’re ordinary lads who lark about and have a laff. But once onstage they become professional performers and really get into it. The most altered one is Paul Rutherford who becomes the most powerful and energetic of them all. Offstage they’re just Ped, Nash, Mark Paul and Holly. Onstage they’re the combined force of Frankie Goes To Hollywood. The result is pure brilliance.

I don’t know how anyone could possibly keep still while Frankie are onstage and no one does. The Lads are giving it loads.

“Time to get laid back a little,” says Holly and they sing ‘Black Night, White Light’. Then there’s a big surprise for me.

“Thank you,” says Holly. “And this one is for Joanne Harland”, then glides into ‘The Power Of Love’.

I just stand, dumbstruck, watching. After ‘Power Of Love’ Holly rushes offstage for a costume change and as he passes me smiles mischievously.

They bounce back onstage to do ‘Pleasuredome’ and the audience are loving it, but still they don’t rush the front of the stage without touched. Mark and Nash walk out to the front and back and Paul dances up and down, teasing the audience all the time — giving out flowers.

I wonder how many of the audience can speak English and if they understand what’s being said.

“More dancing, please,” demands Holly, “Let’s make love.”

There’s a deafening scream as the intro to ‘Relax’ echoes round the theatre. The sound is brilliant.

Next song (‘Two Tribes’) and Mark is bounding around the stage. Then he knocks his radio transmitter off, throwing his bass out. But it’s soon rectified and he plays lying on his back at one point. He’s loving it.

“Thank you — goodnight.”

They all rush off to put their wigs on and then they’re back with Holly with shoulder length black hair, Paul with long brown hair and Nash has a long curly-blonde wig.

The last song for the night is another blast of ‘Relax’ with Paul R singing “LeWax” — he said he’d been dying to do that.

We go back to the hotel with Holly who goes straight to bed, but for us it’s night out with The Lads to the ‘Lexington Queen’ nightclub. It’s packed. Jed O’Tool, Mark’s brother and second guitarist, keeps me company until we finally crawl back to the hotel around 4.00am. What a day!

Sunday 30th June

Last day (sob!). Went shopping for gifts. Sat in lobby with Ian Jeffrey’s (the tour manager) children who are entertained by pressies from Paul Rutherford. Went for a Japanese meal with Ped who said: “I prefer egg and chips like, but this’ll do.”

Went to do the cover photo with Holly in a traditional Japanese restaurant. We had to take our shows off. He showed me how to pose (bit it was a disaster!), then he had to go and pack. They were going to Osaka the next day.

Went to Jed’s room to listen to his Compact Disc system he’s just bought then went to pack. Mark’s room was just down the hall from mine so I gave him a knock and asked him if he’d help me with my case.

“Yeah — hang on a minute.”

A few minutes later he came back.

“Here’s a little pressie for ya.”

It was his Yamamoto top that he’d worn in the ‘Power Of Love’ video. That deserved a kiss.

I took all my packed bags to the soundcheck. Got a tour jacket, signed programme etc, etc. I gave everyone a Japanese thank-you card and a goodbye kiss (Nash was shaving at the time so I got shaving foam all over my face).

The fans outside including Jitsuko and Yusiko had bought me a pressie — which was sweet. The band crowded round while I opened it. “Isn’t that nice of them,” said Mark — it was a beautiful parasol. I also had a pressie from the band, a very flashy Walkman.

Time was slipping by and I didn’t want to go home.

“I want to see tears,” said Jed watching me,

Well, he finally got the tears he was waiting for as we had to set off to the airport. Holly gave me his Mickey Mouse hanky: “Keep it.”

The last few days had been absolutely heaven and I’ll never forget them as long as I live.

Thanks to everyone!