Frankie Goes To Hollywood
UK Band formed 1981
Original line up: Holly Johnson, vocals; Paul Rutherford, vocals; Peter Gill, drums; Mark O’Toole, bass; Gerard O’Toole, guitar.
Career: Named (so they say) after seeing poster announcing Frank Sinatra concert, Frankie and the lads formed in Liverpool towards the end of 1981.
First gig was at Liverpool pub ‘Pickwicks’. This was an early highlight, as band was booked into an assortment of strip joints and gay haunts.
Despite raw ability and poorly received 1982 concert in Liverpool’s Sefton Park, hometown following was established.
Band’s first studio venture was demos of Relax and Two Tribes for Arista Records, but company did not exercise option and group was also rejected by Phonogram. Brian Nash then replaced guitarist Gerard O’Toole.
British TV appearance on pop programme The Tube (January 1983), prompted producer Trevor Horn to sign them to his ZTT label. Horn persuaded Chris Blackwell of Island Records and distributor of ZTT that, despite bizarre image, group would deliver the goods. Blackwell agreed and Horn went to work in studio.
First single Relax, released October 1983, quickly attracted notoriety, with lyrics expounding gay sex, although Holly Johnson denied this. Record banned by powerful BBC, after DJ Mike Read refused to air record. Unavailability bred interest and single became No. 1 in UK, having sold a million copies by March 1984.
Frankie compounded success with second single Two Tribes, an instant No. 1. With Relax at No. 2, Frankie enjoy feat only previously accomplished by Presley, The Beatles and Lennon.
Debut album Welcome To The Pleasuredome went straight to the top of UK LP chart in October 1984, while third single The Power Of Love gave Frankie third consecutive No. 1 single (emulating other Liverpool group Gerry And The Pacemakers).
Brief visit to Hollywood in late 1984 paved way for FGTH’s US success in following year, although dissension in ranks was already apparent. Internal ranklings did not, however, prevent reprise of success in autumn 1986 with Rage Hard although single did not achieve heights attained by Relax and Tribes.
Band eventually went critical, erupting into legal meltdown which involved ZTT seeking court injunction to stop Holly Johnson going solo. During long and messy court case it was revealed that none of band (except Johnson) had played on first two hit singles, impact of records being almost entirely result of Trevor Horn’s production expertise.
In February 1988, Johnson and lads won damages against ZTT, a decision which marked their final triumph together. Various solo projects fizzled and died, although Johnson enjoyed single success with Love Train, Americanos and Atomic City in 1989, all taken from Blast album. Rutherford formed The Pressure Zone in 1991, removing a little of the limelight from Johnson’s second solo bonanza Dreams That Money Can’t Buy.
|Two Tribes, 1984||-||1|
|The Power Of Love, 1984||-||1|
|Welcome To The Pleasuredome, 1985||-||2|
|Warriors (Of The Wasteland), 1986||-||19|
|Welcome To The Pleasuredome (ZTT), 1984|
|Liverpool (ZTT), 1986|
|Welcome To The Hippodrome (ZTT), 1987|