As undoubtedly one of the most popular Australian artists of the 70’s, John Paul Young has cemented himself a place in music history with a string of hits resulting in over 4 million record sales and capped with an induction into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2009.
Migrating from Scotland with his family in 1966, it wasn’t long before John finished school and formed a semi-pro band with some friends, Elm Tree, to perform at local dances on weekends. Elm Tree managed to record one single, Rainbow, and reached the Sydney final of Hoadley’s Battle of the Sounds which fittingly took place at the Capitol Theatre, the Sydney venue for this year’s celebratory performance.
Elm Tree soon disbanded and not long after JPY successfully auditioned for Harry M Miller’s Australian production of the Rice-Webber rock musical Jesus Christ Superstar, landing the main role of Annas. He stayed with the production throughout its 700 performances between May 1972 and February 1974. During that period, as John Young, he released his first singles under the direction of English producer and kingmaker Simon Napier-Bell – the man behind T. Rex. The first of those singles in May 1972, Pasadena, also John’s first hit, was written by songwriting duo extraordinaires, Vanda and Young of Easybeats fame.
When John released his fourth single, Jesus Christ Superstar had ended and Harry Vanda and George Young had returned to Australia as house songwriters and producers for Albert Productions. The song they now wrote and produced for John Young was Yesterday’s Hero, about someone who had once been famous. He performed the song on Countdown and by the time filming was finished he had convinced the audience he really was a star! Yesterday’s Hero was initially released as John Young, but became such a major hit, the singer became John Paul Young to avoid confusion with sixties pop star, Johnny Young.
John Paul Young went on to became a Countdown regular, both as guest and performer, his easygoing boyish personality making him a favourite with fans. More major hits followed – The Love Game, I Hate The Music, I Wanna Do It With You, Standing In The Rain (all Top 10 hits) and his June 1978 No. 1 song, Love Is In The Air, also a huge hit internationally, leading to television performances on Britain’s Top Of The Pops and in the US.