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This is your life

Shock, horror and sexy outrage. Thats probably what most people think first about Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

And now that Frankie have made it massive with three of the biggest selling singles of all time, perhaps theyd think next of the glamorous popstar existence the group are now living—rubbing shoulders with Duran Duran, jet-setting in Japan, songwriting in a beautiful Irish mansion…

But thats not how Frankie Goes To Hollywood see themselves. Nor is it how those closest to the group see them.

For underneath the wild public face of Frankie are five family men whove stayed close to their roots in Liverpool.

No.1 took a trip to their home town to talk to Frankies families, to visit their schools and old haunts.

Then we went to Ireland, where Frankie are currently working, to talk about our findings. In a series that starts this week we present:

Part 1: Mark OToole

Full name: Mark Williams James OToole

Born: 16th March 1964, Walton Hospital, Liverpool

Parents: Josephine and John Gerard OTool

Brothers: Gerard 26, Vincent 24, Colin 19

Jed, the OTooles oldest son was an early member of Frankie too, but he left at the time the group were securing a record deal with ZTT to look after his own family. He now plays second guitar in the group, accompanying them on all tours. Colin and Vincent also play in a group, Phantasy. Colin is the bass player: “Hes pretty good actually,” concedes Mark graciously. “But not as good as me.” Marks thirteen-year-old nephew, Michael, also lives with the family.

Sisters: Patricia 24, Paula 13

Hobbies: Model making

Occupation: bass player with Frankie Goes To Hollywood

FRANKIE GOES TO SCHOOL

Like all his family, Mark OToole was born with jet black hair.

“Its been the same with all of them,“ says Josie OToole, his mother.

“Then it goes blond, then it turns what I call dirty fair.“

Mark attended three Catholic schools in Liverpool: St. Theresas Primary School, then St Matthews Junior School where he failed his 11 +, before going on to St Matthews Secondary School. Marks failure in the 11 + exam was highlighted by the fact that, between them, his brothers have amassed 32 O-levels and 8 A-levels, and his youngest brother Colin is now at university.

Marks parents werent too upset, though.

“Hed always done OK at school,” says Josie, “so we knew it wasnt just because he hadnt tried or anything. He was always clean and smart as a boy—he used to change his bills (undies) every day. We werent disappointed.”

Mark eventually left school with seven CSEs.

SPORTY

What Mark did excel at, though, was sport. From an early age he displayed great proficiency at a number of games, including cricket, athletics and football, in which he captained the school team. In fact his teachers thought he was so good at sport they automatically assumed hed be making a life of it.

“There was one time,” remembers Josie, “when his father and I went to an open evening and one of his teachers told his dad that Mark would make a great cricketer one day.

“His dad told the teacher off—told him he wanted him to learn something, not be a cricketer!”

Marks sporting life sadly ended at the age of 16 when he broke a shin while playing football. He never played again. From now on it was to be music all the way.

SCHOOL AGAIN

“I remember St Matthews as being a pretty bad school really,” states Mark.

“It was the sort of school where we were never allowed out on trips. The reason was that we went up once to see Wordsworths house in the Lake District, and afterwards we went to a nearby zoo. And… er… a couple of lads started nicking animals. They swiped a couple of seals. After that they wouldnt let us out…

“But there was one teacher, Miss Rooney, who fought to get us trips. She was really great.”

“A couple of years ago Miss Rooney was really ill,” adds Marks father.

“Mark was really sweet, wrote her a letter and everything.”

MUSICAL STIRRINGS

Marks first band was formed when he was 12. Called Mark 2, they used to rehearse in the garden of his familys house.

“They used to play the local social clubs in the area,“ remembers Josie.

“Mark would get sent round to collect the money cos he was the youngest.”

After that Mark was in a number of bands, some with his brothers, before he formed a group with Peter Gill, later to become Frankies drummer.

“Peds dad used to bring his drums over to our garden and Ped would practise in our shed,” says MrOToole.

“Before he got together with Mark, hed been in a group with Colin called Tara Box and then Sons Of Egypt.”

The first ever Frankie song was written in the shed at the bottom of the OTooles garden. It was ‘Loves Got A Gun. And even at that stage the future members of Frankie were causing controversy. There were complaints from the neighbours.

“Its strange, though,” laughs Josie.

“The people next door hadnt spoken to us for 12 years. But now… well, they say hullo now!”

LARKS IN THE PARK

The first time Marks family saw Frankie play was at Sefton Park. Liverpool, three years ago in the annual Larks In The Park festival. At the time Marks brother, Jed, was still the guitarist and their dress was completely outrageous. By this time Holly had joined the group and singing with him was Paul Rutherford.

“Their appearance was atrocious,” Marks dad reckons. “Musically… sound as a pound but their, er, look left a lotto be desired.

“Holly was outrageous. That first time he had just a G-string on. Good job he did, cos when he bent down you thought it was a cat looking at you.”

Josie takes up the tale: “After the gig, we were walking around and we had to lend him a coat, cos he would have been arrested for indecent exposure!”

POP FOR JOBS

By now Mark was working fulltime as an apprentice with the Liverpool city council as a joiner. His cousin Nasher also worked for the council as an electrician.

Mark was having to take leave of absence to comply with the requirements of the ever more successful Frankie.

“They did the ‘Relax thing at the State Club for Channel 4,” says Gerard OToole, “and it just exploded.

“Mark was still working putting up signs in Liverpools fruit market when he first got Top Of The Pops. He was doing TOTPs and then going back to work the next day. In the end he had to give up his job. The rest is history.”

Indeed. Suddenly the five hip scallies from Liverpool were big news. But Jed OToole had been left behind.

“Unfortunately Jed had to leave the band,” says his father. “He had to drop out for financial reasons; a wife, his mortgage. I spose it was a bit like winning the pools and forgetting to post your coupon.

“But he bears no malice to the lads and he does tour with them. Just one of those things really.”

FANS AND FINGS

Mr OToole: “Its affected our lives quite a lot actually, has Marks success. Lots of people want to know you all of a sudden. You become a celebrity. People point at us.”

“Colin and Vin both look like Mark,“ says Mrs OToole. “And at Christmas both got chased around a lot by fans. Well tell people that Marks away, theyll see Vin or Colin, and then come back and tell me Im lying! Its funny really.”

“What I dont like,” says Mr OToole, “is that they have this image as millionaires. You get jealous remarks, snide comments. Im always ready for them now. They say, ‘Oh, I see your Marks alright, hes got a million. And I say, ‘Yeah, hes on his way to his second now. That shuts them up.

“I was in a pub on Christmas day with Mark. When we go out Mark always gives me his wallet to get a drink in. This guy said to me at the bar, ‘Why dont you dip it (steal from it)! Dip it while youve got it. I said, ‘Youre joking! Hes just given me £500 to enjoy myself over Christmas, just to shut him up.

“I know that if I ever wanted money all Id ever have to do is ask Mark and hed be happy to give it. But Im in a position where I dont have to. I dont want for anything. Marks bought us a lot—hi-fi, this chesterfield sofa, chair etc.

“But thats because he wants to.

“Because hes our son.“