Holly Johnson

British artist, musician and writer

William (Holly) Johnson (born 9 February 1960) is an English artist, musician and writer, best known as the lead vocalist of the controversial 1980s new wave pop rock band Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

Holly Johnson


  • I’m very lucky. I have terrific parents, but some kids have a really rotten time growing up and we should do all that we can to make their lives happier and more secure.
  • You used to get people writing in to the Liverpool Echo saying, ‘Who is this Martian walking round town?’ I used to get battered. Going out for lunch was like running the gauntlet.
  • Showbiz is a very strange thing, I’ve got a love-hate relationship with that. In Liverpool your mates say, ‘You’re there, Holly, you’re there’ but they only see the end product, not what that entails.
  • We are here to stir things up. Even people that hate us have to admit that we’ve already succeeded in doing that. Love Frankie or hate it - that’s what we want - a strong reaction.
  • When Frankie Goes To Hollywood were still going strong, we made a point of being as Spinal Tap as possible. Yes, we had food fights. Yes, items were thrown out of hotel windows. But one childish prank I liked at the time was when we stayed in those really posh hotels where, at night, you could put your shoes out and in the morning they’ve been cleaned. We amused ourselves by roaming the corridors at night and having a crap in each pair of shoes we found. We even made bets: whoever filled the most shoes, won.
    • "(untitled)" HOLLY JOHNSON : Frankie Goes To Hollywood(untitled) article]at zttaat.com, Accessed May 2014.
  • Often the raw ideas like ‘Relax’ and ‘Rage Hard’ - are the best. ‘Rage Hard’ just happened. There was little conscious effort.
  • Coming back doing interviews is weird. It’s like an actor who takes a year off and just goes home, settles down, does some gardening, wakes up in the morning, worries about what to have for breakfast, then suddenly you’re plonked back in the middle of it all.
  • I do sometimes write songs that don’t seem right for Frankie so they get filed away. But don’t worry - anything good will be used. I’m not that gifted that I can afford to throw away any good stuff.
  • I got great voice training in St. Mary’s Church, Wavertree, in Liverpool, when I was a lad. Dressing up in cassocks was all part of the fun. I used to earn sixpence a week and although I don’t go to church very much any more, 'Once In Royal David’s City' is still my favourite hymn.
  • [I was] a little boy with a patch over one eye, who sang and danced along the street. I had what’s called a lazy eye, so I had to wear the patch. You tend to be a prodded kind of kid when you look like that, but it makes you much stronger in the end.
  • I was in Big In Japan between '77 and '78. Then I went solo, releasing a couple of singles. Then I joined the Dancing Girls who turned into the Sons Of Egypt who were then whittled down into Frankie Goes To Hollywood.
  • The name Holly was given me by a girl called Yvonne Petrovitch because of the Andy Warhol connection with the transvestite Holly Woodlawn.
  • Dad wasn’t there much cos he had three or four jobs. First he was away at sea, later on he worked as an insurance salesman in the day and on a building site in the evening.

Quotes about Holly Johnson

  • He was a skinhead and I thought, ‘Oooh! He’s weird!’ He had this blond skinhead cut with ‘Psycho’ sprayed in black on his head. I hated that. He was wild but he’s not any more. He’s been tamed by age.
  • Paul and Holly would rather hang out in the Café Tabac or the Armadillo Tea Rooms where everyone sits around going 'Oh, Andy Warhol, yah', pretending it’s London. [instead of the burger joint where the interview is taking place]
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