Article image

Title: Rockepedia: F

ROCKPEDIA: F

FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD

WHO Vocals William ‘Holly’ Johnson (b. 19 Feb 1960, Khartoum, Sudan), backing vocals/dancing Paul Rutherford (b. 8 Dec 1959, Liverpool, England), guitar Brian ‘Nasher’ Nash (b. 20 May 1963, Liverpool), bass Mark O’Toole (b. 6 Jan 1964, Liverpool), drums Peter ‘Ped’ Gill (b. 8 Mar 1964, Liverpool)

WHEN 1982-1987

WHERE Liverpool, England

WHAT Sex and Dance and Rock ‘n’ Roll

From the fertile late-70s Liverpool band Big In Japan (featuring KLF’s Bill Drummond and Lightning Seed Ian Broudie) came ‘dirty Disco’ diva Holly Johnson. Spurning solo obscurity, he formed Frankie Goes To Hollywood, officially named after a headline about Frank Sinatra. Embellished by the scantily clad Leather Pets and sideman Paul Rutherford, a performance on UK TV show The Tube snared superstar producer Trevor Horn, who made Frankie the flagship of his label ZTT. A BBC ban sent ‘Relax’ supernova in early 1984, followed by ‘Two Tribes: whose nine-week stay atop the chart was bolstered by a blood-crazed video.

The spectacular Welcome To The Pleasuredome and a third No.1, ‘The Power Of Love’, confirmed Frankie as the phenomenon of 1984. In January 1985, ‘Relax’ cruised to No.10 in America - uniting transatlantic teenagers in ‘Frankie Say’ T-shirts. As their domination peaked, war erupted between ‘The Lads’ (Nash, Gill and O’Toole) and Johnson, exacerbated by ego-clashes at ZTT.

Liverpool limped out in October 1986; its sales and singles signalling Frankiemania’s demise. Only Johnson enjoyed subsequent success - although his albums (notably 1989’s UK No.1 Blast) were overshadowed when he was diagnosed HIV-positive. ZTT’s tenth anniversary sent Frankie reissues and hits album Bang! (1993) into the UK chart, heart-warming nostalgia quickly deadened by 1994’s redundant remix collection Reload.

READ: A Bone In My Flute (1994), Holly Johnson

FAN: CD FGTH Fan Base, PO Box 223270, 57038 Siegen, Germany.

SURF: www.cs.unimaas.nl/~antal/fgth/fgth-home.html