It started nice and relaxed… then two tribes went to war. This month, the first day and last day of: Holly Johnson & Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Frankie started with me, Ped [Peter Gill] and Mark O’Toole. I knew Ped because my flatmate Steve Lovell, who’s now an indie producer, brought this lad home called Buddy who was in a band called Dancing Girls—
We left one band in one rehearsal room and walked to another where Mark was and it clicked instantly. It was just the sound. I can’t really impress on anyone how good Mark was. He was dead young, 17, and stood out from every bass player in the country. We wrote a song immediately called Love Has Got A Gun, which appeared on the Pleasuredome album.
I’d been in and out of bands from ‘76 to ‘82 and I was just about to give up and go to art college. I had been a part of the Eric’s scene—
We wrote most of the songs on Pleasuredome together—
There are so many versions of how it went wrong. We had the classic pathetic rows about publishing, who should be on the tour bus and who shouldn’t, and I didn’t think the manager was any good and they were drinking mates with him so slowly I became alienated.
The first time I’d said, “I’m leaving,” was in Holland. Trevor Horn promised he’d record the second album but I turned up and there was Steve Lipson, saying, “I’m the producer.” I was put out.
It became completely, unbelievably, absurd. We were staying at the same hotel together, writing songs but not speaking. Cassettes were passed to me and I went upstairs and wrote the lyrics. It’s hysterically funny now but at the time it was horrid. It continued for about a year. I think I had a nervous breakdown, eventually.
Then Mark attacked me. It was complicated. The manager let Capital Radio broadcast the first of our Wembley Arena concerts live and hadn’t told me. So I’d done a live radio performance and didn’t know and I just hit the roof. So did Mark and he hit me. No-one got hurt and we did our best concert ever the second night, but from that point I never spoke to another member of the band because they went out that night with the manager. I thought, “I’ll finish the tour and that’s it.”
The most bizarre night was my birthday in Belgium. The audience sang Happy Birthday but the band and crew wouldn’t join in. It was so embarrassing. After the tour I wrote telling them I’d legally left the band and they thought, Fuck him, we’ll carry on. They carried on booking rehearsal rooms as Frankie for two years after but it had died. I hardly see them now but I send them Christmas cards. I’ve forgiven them. But I don’t know if they’ve forgiven me.
Interview by Jon Bennett