Frankie says “relax” and truth be told, “relaxing” is just what the doctor ordered in these difficult times, but ultimately so hard to do. Frankie Goes To Hollywood, a.k.a Holly Johnsson, Paul Rutherfort, Peter Gill, Mark O’ Toole and Brian Nash, were so “relaxed”, that they allowed producer Trevor Horn to make everything work. They were also so “relaxed”, that they effortlessly survived a BBC ban and managed to stand out in the 80’s pop playground. To be honest, they could not help themselves but do exactly that. That’s how they claimed their place in history, with “Relax” hitting the number one spot in the charts and hanging out there.
It was fate that brought them together. Forming the band after experimenting with various other projects in the Liverpool scene, their then raw version of “Relax”, caught the ear of producer Trevor Horn, who signed them to ZTT Records. He then focused on providing “Relax” with its signature sound, while ZTT records co-founder Paul Morley took on the task of projecting the group into the music world. The campaign was heavily colored by sexual innuendo. Tags such as “Frankie Goes To Hollywood are coming…making Duran Duran lick the shit of their shoes” played their part in sparking controversy.
Meanwhile, their lyrics were being scrutinized over their sexual connotations, with the BBC stopping it from airing, as it was considered inappropriate for a British audience that was busy keeping it at the top of the charts.
All this happened rather in a rather “relaxed” way, something that didn’t stop them from claiming subsequent number ones in the charts. The band was hugely successful from 1980 to 1987 and from 2004 to 2007, till the time came when there was just no reason for them to be together anymore, their “dream of Hollywood” crushed by their own vanity.
Frankie Goes To Hollywood claimed their place in musical history and ultimately “didn’t do it”. I for one hope that I’ll get to Hollywood one day, and will keep dancing to “Relax” as relaxed and as joyful as I was when I first heard it when I was four.
Text: Natasa Papachristou