The Frankie file, read all about it…
Everybody knows about Frankie Goes To Hollywood. They make great records, brilliant videos that no-one ever gets to see because they’re always being banned, and they come from Liverpool. And that’s it. We set out to find out who the five Frankies really are, and where they think they’re going…
CONTRARY to popular opinion, there are actually five Frankies, and not just two. Paul and Holly may grab the limelight and the headlines, but Brian, Ped and Mark are the group musicians, and just as essential as their controversial frontmen.
Ped, (real name Peter Gill) comes from Liverpool, as do all the Frankies. He got a drum kit for his 16th birthday, and eight months later he formed his first band, Dancing Girl, with guitarist Brian ‘Nasher’ Nash, and his cousin, Mark O’Toole. As they cheerfully admit, Dancing Girl was hardly likely to set the charts alight, and eventually they joined up with one of Liverpool’s resident weirdos, Holly Johnson, and formed the nucleus of Frankie Goes To Hollywood.
William ‘Holly’ Johnson was a familiar and easily recognised figure in the Liverpool streets. In a city full of weirdos, he stood out as the weirdest of them all. Even as a young teenager he remembers, “I used to shave my head and paint it red and green. People wrote to the Liverpool Echo ‘Who’s this Martian walking around town?’”
When he was 15, he bumped into Paul Rutherford at a local club and they have been firm friends ever since.
One night, after returning to his native Liverpool after a stay in London, Paul went to see his friend Holly’s group, Frankie Goes To Hollywood play a local gig. He was so delighted and excited by their outrageous stage act that he jumped on stage to join them and has stayed there ever since, responsible for the group’s style and generally known as ‘the dance-master’.
“We got the name Frankie Goes To Hollywood from an old newspaper headline about Frank Sinatra,” says Holly, and I got my name from a girl called Yvonne Petrovich, who called me Holly after a character in an Andy Warhol film.”
Although they excited great interest and enthusiasm wherever they played, the group got their first big break after appearing on The Tube.
Paul Morley, ex-music writer and now working for ZTT records was thrilled with what he saw, and he and ZTT producer Trevor Horn signed them up on the spot.
Their first single, Relax, was released to enthusiastic attention and was doing very nicely, thank you, when DJ Mike Read suddenly decided to ban it on the grounds that it was’ obscene’.
“We set out to create an air of controversy,” says Mark, “because we set out do something different, but there’s more to us than just headlines. We’re at the top and we aim to stay there.”
“I’m bored with people interviewing us about the sex angle,” says Paul, “the only banner we wave is the banner of having fun. We’re entertainers—
And if he can’t think of a better word, then neither can we, though we might be inclined to elaborate a bit.
Frankie Goes To Hollywood: Entertainers Extraordinaire.