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A Bone In My Flute

(Century, £15.99)

“I wore my glasses, a suit and a dickie bow. Everyone else looked like tramps,” writes Johnson, as he remembers another confrontational meeting with Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

Johnsons autobiography is at its best during dramatic, quickly observed moments-after taking half-a-dozen sleeping pills, Billy Johnson (the Holly came from ‘Walk On The Wild Side) plays out his pre-pubescent suicide by lying down “clutching a ring-binder full of my adolescent poetry”.

As he discovers his sexuality, Holly changes from Big In Japans black-tighted, bi-sexual bassist into the full homo-erotic tease of the Frankies. For the debut Top Of The Pops performance of ‘Relax, Holly slips a yellow handkerchief into his back-pocket, a signal to the S&M fraternity that the wearer is into ‘Golden Showers.

By turns vain and self-effacing, Holly eschews over-analysis for some moving and occasionally brutal accounts of his clashes with producer Trevor Horn, his abhorrence of ‘The Lads in FGTH and his love-hate relationship with dancer Paul Rutherford. At the tail end of the ‘80s, a more world-weary star finds himself in court fighting over an unfair recording contract, and at the sick bed of his friend, Wolfgang, who is (wrongly) diagnosed as suffering from an Aids-related illness. The latter is something which Holly has recently experienced first hand.

A Bone In My Flute is, nonetheless, a technicolour, spleen-venting tale of a sling backed poseur who once defined “true glamour” as the day George Michael invited him into the back of his gold limo.


Steve Malins