Thursday, September 2, 1999 Published at 16:27 GMT 17:27 UK
Return from Hollywood
Holly Johnson is back on the music scene after 10 years
By BBC News Online's Rebecca Thomas
Eighties pop group Frankie Goes to Hollywood found fame in the controversy sparked by their erotic club anthem Relax.
That spark was however all too abruptly snuffed out.
In 1987 Frankie acrimoniously split. Worse still, in 1991 Johnson was diagnosed as having Aids.
Now, after 10 years away from the music scene, Johnson is making a triumphant return - in fighting form and with a single and album up his sleeve.
Not that the 39-year-old Liverpudlian has been idle in the interim. There's been his autobiography, A Bone in My Flute, in 1994. In 1996, he held an exhibition of his art in London's West End. He has even set up his own record label, Pleasuredome.
But music is what he loves best and what he is back to do.
Frankie Goes to Hollywood can be credited with making some of the most successful dance records of the 1980s.
The sky-high success of Relax in 1984 - bolstered by its ban from BBC Radio 1 after it realised the meaning of its lyrics - was followed the same year by number one spots for Two Tribes, The Power Of Love and the album Welcome To The Pleasuredome.
The video, which he describes as his "directorial debut", features Boy George and Jasper Conran imitating gay and disco icons such as Divine and Lee Bowery. The lyrics mention Andy Warhol, Sylvester and more.
"It's about all the friends I have loved and perhaps lost," Johnson explains.
"I'm not as arrogant as you are when you are young when you feel everything is a divine right and you think you are the best thing since sliced bread. I have a different perspective on life," he muses.
Of course, if Johnson is a changed man, it's hardly surprising. Not many of us could live through such a marked reversal in fortune and come out unscathed.
But although the downturn in his career was demoralising, it was the Aids diagnosis that sent Johnson into retreat. "It was a huge shock," he says.
He is however keen not to dwell on the subject and adds: "Now I have moved on. I am not the HIV, it's not what I do and I tend to feel there are other more interesting things about me."
Fear of death in the early days of diagnosis compelled him to take up writing and painting earlier than he intended - but Johnson is not one to live in the past.
"I have enjoyed my life and did what I felt like doing. In ignorance I didn't practise safe sex but I am certainly not going to regret my behaviour that was done in ignorance of the actual situation," he says.
The next single from Soul Stream will be a slower version of the classic song. It was originally sped up to make it short enough for radio play and, Johnson says, made him sound "ever so slightly Mickey Mouse".
He hopes to go on tour at some point. But for now, his priority is watching how his new record is received - particularly among his old Frankie Goes to Hollywood fans.
"I hope it makes them feel uplifted and distracted from the stress and strains of everyday life."
And he laughs: "I hope they will like it but if they don't, well then it's tough isn't it?"
Disco Heaven is released on 6 September and Soul Stream on 4 October.
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