The frank truth about Frankie
There’s one thing you can say about Frankie Goes To Hollywood, and that’s that they’re not afraid of being controversial.
The video for Two Tribes, their number one smash hit anti war song made Russian officials at their London embassy see red, and brought yet another ban from The Beeb.
And to top it all they’ve put both Boy George and Duran Duran in the shade by selling a staggering four million copies of their first single Relax throughout Britain and Europe, six months after it was banned by Radio One.
But did you know that:
Bass player Mark O’Toole and guitarist Brian Nash are cousins? They were still working for Liverpool Council as a carpenter and an electrician one week before Relax was banned and had to get time off work to appear on Top of the Pops.
Mark, Brian and drummer Paul Gill share a London flat with an aquarium filled with deadly Piranha fish.
The group annoyed Boy George once by phoning him up in a London studio and suggesting that he starts placing a regular order for a magazine called Slimmers’ Monthly.
Holly Johnson’s previous occupations include pizza chef, cloakroom attendant and labourer on a building site in Wapping, a job which lasted just one week.
He secretly harbours an ambition to become a ventriloquist.
He used to earn six pence a week singing in a church choir in Liverpool.
Paul Rutherford used to share a flat in Liverpool with Boy George’s arch enemy Dead Or Alive singer Pete Burns. Paul and Pete are still very close buddies.
The group have never been to Hollywood. They based their name on a magazine article about Frank Sinatra resuming his singing career.
The first record that Holly ever bought was Blackberry Way by The Move. The first rock concert he ever attended was one given by David Bowie at Liverpool Empire on June 9, 1973.
Paul Rutherford has a twin sister living in America. He lived with her for a short time when he shared an ambition to become a dancer.
Holly’s first group was Big In Japan which also featured Siouxsie and the Banshee’s drummer Budgie and Echo and The Bunnymen’s manager Bill Drummond.
Holly Johnson’s favourite Hollywood actress is Judy Garland. He used to dye his hair red, wear lots of make up and dress up like her when he visited Liverpool’s clubs whilst still at secondary school.
His mother regularly turns up to all of her son’s gigs with flasks of coffee and sandwiches for the entire group.
Paul Rutherford, like the group’s bass player Mark O’Toole, is absolutely terrified of flying.
Over 750,000 copies of Two Tribes were sold in the first two weeks of release. The record outsold any other single in the charts by two to one.
Holly Johnson goes swimming for half an hour each morning at the public baths near his Chelsea home.
Relax is the first record to reach the number one spot after being banned by The Beeb since Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg went to the top with Je T’aime in 1969.
Holly Johnson was christened William Holly Johnson. Before joining Frankie Goes To Hollywood he recorded two singles under the name of Holly called Yankee Rose and Hobo Joe, neither of which were hits.
When Relax was banned Mark O’Toole’s father sent Mike Read a petition signed by over 2,000 neighbours and friends in Liverpool.
Holly Johnson was brought up near Penny Lane, the legendary street in the Beatles’ song in Liverpool.
Last year he was selling Dennis The Menace T-shirts to supplement his income from the dole.
John Lennon, The Beatles and Elvis Presley are the only other artists ever to have records simultaneously at number one and number two in the charts.
Holly Johnson’s dad is a taxi driver and his mother works as a nurse at a heart clinic in Liverpool.