Title: My gay son by Holly’s proud dad
Author: Judy Wade
Source: The Sun
Frankie Sun exclusive on pop’s amazing No 1 superstar
MY GAY SON By Holly’s proud dad
By JUDY WADE
HE’S the shock rocker who shot to the top with a song about gay lovemaking. Then the fantastic frontman with Frankie Goes To Hollywood came out with a video so violent that it was banned by the BBC.
But back home in Liverpool his mum and dad could not be more proud of their boy, Billy - even though he now uses a girl’s name - Holly Johnson.
Dad, Eric Johnson, 54, says: “I’d be happy to go for a pint with him down the pub now, but I wouldn’t have been a few years ago when he had pink hair in a Mohican style.
“And I didn’t like it when his friends used to phone up and ask for Holly. I used to say: ‘There’s no Holly in this house, only a Billy.’ Then I’d slam the phone down.
“But today lots of people are open about being gay. And I suppose we’ve just got used to it.”
He looks embarrassed, but adds: “Well, being gay is no big deal today, is it?
“But years ago we used to have rows about the way he behaved and the way he looked.
“I used to say: ‘Get away with you. Go and wash that stuff off your face too.’ I didn’t like to think a lad of mine was turning weird like that.
“Now I even call him Holly myself sometimes – it just slips out.”
Eric has every reason to be proud of his son’s phenomenal success with Frankie Goes To Hollywood.
Their first single, Relax, shot to No. 1 in the charts for five weeks earlier this year, despite being banned for being “sexually explicit.”
In June their second release, Two Tribes, rocketed straight into the charts at No. 1 while Relax climbed to the No. 2 spot again, 18 weeks after holding the top spot.
It meant a unique double for Frankie as the first group to make numbers one and two with their first two releases. And last week Two Tribes we still at No. 1 after eight weeks.
Eric Jonnson is a taxi driver with a large supply of Scouse nouse. But he could never somehow tell his son anything about sex. He says:
‘Apart from saying don’t take sweets from strangers, I never told my lads anything. Well, they get all that kind of stuff at school. Don’t they!”
I certainly never imagined that our Billy would wind up making millions in the music world. That only happens to the Beatles, not your kid.
Our Billy didn’t have a particularly good voice. Both his brothers John and Jim, and even his sister Clare were much better singers.
When they were little lads they all sang in the church choir in our old neighbourhood. We lived next door to a churchgoing spinster our kids called Auntie May. And she used to take ‘em off to St. Mary’s on Sundays. We’re not a religious family but we thought it was nice for kids to go and get a bit of Sunday school.
I think our Billy liked singing in the choir because he got a tanner every time he turned up. That’s 2˝p - six old pence. But when he sang at weddings he got 7s 6d (37˝p) and he thought that was great.
He was in the Quarrybank choir too - that’s the same school John Lennon went to.
He was always mad about music but he was never able to get music lessons at school. Apparently there was no vacancy in the music class and he had to take biology instead-and he hated that. So he must be totally self-taught’
Pat Johnson, 47, a plump, smiling woman who works as a nursing auxiliary, believes this turned her son right off school. She says:
‘He used to sag school all the time. That’s what we call playing truant round here.
He sagged school so often the headmaster called me in and said I had to make him turn up.
But nothing I could ever do or say would make him go.
And when he left school he didn’t have a single O-level or even a GCE.
I always felt so sorry for our Billy. He had a lazy muscle in one eye and had to wear a patch over the other to improve his sight.
That was before he got glasses. So he had sticking plaster stuck over his good eye and the skin underneath was always raw and sore from pulling it off.
But he never complained, even though it was so painful
He was always such a good little lad. A very tidy little boy and always very clean. He always picked up his toys without being nagged.
He was always affectionate, too. He loved to sit on my lap for a cuddle.
We used to have a great time together watching old movies on TV. He loved all those 1940s stars like Bette Davis and Greer Garson.
He’d make me a cup of tea and we’d watch some sad old black-andwhite weepie and have a good cry together.
He moved out of our terraced house in Wavertree, Liverpool, when he was 17 and found a flat in Toxteth.
Now he has a grand pad in Knightsbridge. But he shares it with two friends who are not in the music business.
When I went down to visit him, I was pleased to see the fridge was full of good food. Holly and his flatmates take good care of themselves.
They do all the housecleaning chores themselves. The other boys told me Holly cooked Scouse stew for them and they loved it.
He took me out for tea at a nice café in Hyde Park. I also went to the recording studio where they are working on the new album.
He is still a wonderful son. He rings me almost every day and when he comes home he does the dishes for me.
He came home a couple of weeks ago for a family party and slept on the sofa in our front room.
He brought his friend Marco with him. They have been close now for quite a long time. Marco is such a nice boy. We all like him very much.
The gold and platinum discs Holly was awarded when sales of Relax topped a million take pride of place in the Johnsons’ home.
People think our Billy must be fantastically rich with two number one hits but he hasn’t seen any of the big money yet,” his mum says.
“Everyone wants to know when is Hol1y going to buy us a bungalow? I just tell them it’s manners to wait until you’re asked.”
HE DRESSED LIKE JUDY
ONE of Holly’s oldest friends is Jayne Casey, 27, the singer in his first group, Big In Japan.
“I first met Holly when he was only 14 and he stood out from the crowd even then.” she says.
“He used to model himself on Judy Garland. The night I met him he had bright red hair curled in front.
“His mum and dad were lovely, ordinary people with this son who thought he was Judy Garland!
“He used to come prancing out of the house singing her old songs. Their house is in a dead quiet street and everyone amazed.
“I think Mr and Mrs Johnson were upset by the way he behaved. But now he is a success, they have come around and they accept him.
“I don’t think they ever wanted to throw him out of their house, because everyone always loved Holly. And he is still the same today - a lovely, sweet guy.”
In the mid-1970s Holly met pop entrepreneur Bill Drummond, who became manager of Big in Japan. “Holly always looked weird,” says Bill. “He used to dress like Rupert Bear with tartan trousers and bleached blond hair only a quarter of an inch long all over his head.
“I found out that he had a lousy time at school so he would never go. All the other kids picked on him because he was different.
“His best friend was Paul Rutherford and he taught Holly a lot. He gave him the low-down on everything - and that includes sex.”
Holly’s sister, Clare Jones, 28, still lives close to her parents, although she married ten years ago and has an eight-year-old son, Ben.
“Holly sagged school all the time, but so did I,” she admits.
“He was never any good at games. I remember one school sports day he wanted to go in a race but he could hardly see.
“I went to the headmaster and asked him to give our Billy a head start.
“They gave him about half a mile but he still came in last.
“He didn’t mind a bit. He just liked joining in. He was wearing a new Spiderman T-shirt and he was dead proud of it.”