The two Johnnys

When I returned from Paris a few weeks ago, I brought with me a gossip magazine titled Johnny, for the member of my household who grew up in francophone Mauritius.

It revealed hitherto unknown details about the life of the late French rock and pop idol Johnny Hallyday, who was sometimes described in English-speaking countries as 'the biggest star you've never heard of'.

Johnny Magazine

This morning I mentioned that I was going to the local Dendy cinema to see the documentary John Farnham: Finding the Voice.

My friend looked at me quizzically until I pointed to the Johnny magazine, which he had devoured.

Farnham was of course not recognised outside Australia until the international success of his 1986 Whispering Jack album. That followed Johnny Farnham's career-saving rebrand as John Farnham.


The rebrand was necessary because he'd never managed to live down the ridicule he continued to suffer due to the overwhelming success of his first release, the 1968 novelty song Sadie (The Cleaning Lady).

His promoters couldn't get it out of the minds of Australians who were growing up during the late 1960s.

It seems that the emotional resonance of the unsophisticated tunes of our childhood remains, no matter how hard we try to populate our conscious and unconscious selves with cultural content of greater depth. That's probably not a bad thing.