ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”

Hollys such a wally!

Face to face with the soft and soggy star of the Frankies

FROM THE MOMENT I shook hands with Holly Johnson, I knew I wasnt going to enjoy our meeting.

His limp hand just slithered straight out of my grasp. Okay, you shouldnt put a guy down for a handshake, but it was a sign of slippery times ahead.

No one can deny that Holly hasnt made it. After all, he and Frankie Goes To Hollywood sold more records than any other band in Britain last year. And their current British tour is a complete sell-out.

Credit where its due—the lad has done well. Its just that a face-to-face with Holly is a terrible anti-climax.

He has the sort of soft and soggy voice that makes John Inman seem like Sylvester Stallone.

And sexy? Forget it girls. Dont ask me why some of them spend hours hanging around outside hotels hoping to touch him. Theyll have more fun holding a daffodil.

Image

Holly, 25, who once boasted that he lost his virginity when he was 14 to a woman eight years older than himself, is now far too important and image-conscious to discuss such things.

In fact, to begin with, he even tried to deny it.

“Its no longer relevant to discuss my sexual activities,” he drawled.

“Ive made comments in the past that Ive later regretted.”

If youre wondering just why Holly is being so coy, particularly in view of the row he caused with the homosexual overtones in Relax which was banned by the BBC, the answer was just across the room.

His German friend Wolfgang was sitting there, looking affectionately over at Holly. He tours with him as “makeup man and dresser” and takes very good care of Holly.

When Holly left after the interview, he went off with Wolfgang to his new house in South West London—doubtless to do a little dusting and crocheting.

Holly was saying nothing about any of it.

But then, as you soon discover, he doesnt say much about anything.

Hes supposed to be the brightest Of the Frankies—in which case its surprising the rest arent kept in cages.

Holly didnt like school—he doesnt seem to like very much—and left, with no O-levels and no CSEs, perfectly qualified to spend most of the next seven years on the dole. Which is exactly what he did.

“I didnt spend much time at school.” Holly recalls, “which was a bit stupid really.

After school, Holly wanted to go to art college—which posed certain problems with no qualifications—and his idea of going into the theatre failed when he discovered that he didnt have much in common with that either.

So he tried writing songs, playing with various bands and working on building sites and as a chef cooking pizzas.

Meanwhile he was expanding his mind.

“I was reading German philosophers and French surrealists.” he says with a vagueness that suggests he was reading the books upside down without realising it.

Holly gets upset if you suggest that he is anything less than brilliantly intelligent.

He insists it was he and the other four Frankies who masterminded their success last year. It had little to do with the sound created by Trevor Horn and the marketing campaign dreamed up to flog it.

“All the original ideas came from us,” he says testily. “Other people may have helped furnish us with a sound and created an identity, but the rest was all us.”

Since the Frankies are little more than a sound and an identity, this doesnt leave much, apart from five faces to fill the blank spaces.

“Weve always been under attack by other people and particularly other bands,” says Holly.

Success

“Its a mixture of envy, because weve sold so many records, and fear, because were good and weve stolen their limelight.”

As anyone will discover if they meet Holly, hes nothing if not modest.

He may have been a rather shy boy at one time, but these days hes just plain smug, self-satisfied and cocky.

He proclaims: “I think weve handled our success incredibly well.”

But even Holly has to admit that whats happened to them in the last couple of years has been a bit startling. He has gone from being broke to being very wealthy.

“But I think that I was happier then than I am now,” he says.

There were fewer things on my mind.

“Then it was just the gas and electricity bill and the £200 overdraft to worry about. Now its more important things.”

More important things like trying to prove how talented he is, how bright and interesting he is, and how really the Frankies did it all themselves.

Sorry Holly youre a Wally—and you cant fool us.