Johnny Young — “Good Evening Girl”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — December 26, 2022


682) Johnny Young — “Good Evening Girl”

This delightful pop psych B-side from down under was “written by three of the Easybeats but never recorded by that group, although it’s easily up to the standards of their better songs.” (Richie Unterberger, The A-side was written by Barry Gibb. Talk about being penned by (Aussie) rock royalty!

As to Johnny Young, the definitive MilesaGo: Australasian Music and Popular Culture 1964-1975, says:

Like so many Aussie pop stars, Johnny was born overseas and came to Australia [at age three] during the huge influx of migrants after WWII. He was born Johnny Benjamin deJong in Rotterdam . . . . At the time of his birth his father Jan was stationed in Indonesia with the Netherlands armed forces . . . . As an adult Johnny discovered that [at the time,] his mother had a brief affair with a young Dutch singer — and he was the result of that romance. . . .

[He] began work as a trainee disc jockey on Perth radio, started singing at local dances, and spent eighteen months as lead vocalist with [a] local group . . . . In 1965, Johnny got his first break into TV when he became host of a local Perth pop show Club 17. . . . [I]n early 1966 . . . [t]he Easybeats visited Perth. They gave Johnny the ultimate seal of approval by presenting him with one of their new songs. “Step Back” . . . was issued as a single in May 1966 . . . . [and] became . . . the second biggest-selling Australian single of the Sixties . . . .

Johnny decided to heed the siren call of Swinging London. . . . On June 6, 1967 Johnny set sail for the UK and to mark his departure Clarion released his new single, “Lady” (backed by a[ Easybeats] original, “Good Evening Girl”), which reached #34 in July. The A-side, “Lady”, was a Barry Gibb song, which Barry had written specially for him. The story behind this is typical of Johnny’s good nature — while working in Brisbane, he ran into Barry Gibb, who was facing a long, arduous drive back to Sydney for a TV appearance. With typical generosity, Johnny paid Barry’s airfare, enabling to fly back to Sydney, so Barry returned the favour by presenting Johnny with the song. . . . Johnny failed to make a major impression on the UK scene, and he returned to Australia in January 1968 . . . .

With his pop career faltering, Johnny fell back on his early training as a DJ . . . . While in London, encouraged and coached by his friend Barry Gibb, he had begun to compose songs and he now began writing in earnest . . . . Over the next two years he had tremendous success — his credits include Russell Morris’ “The Real Thing” and “Part Three Into Paper Walls” [and] Ronnie Burns “Smiley” — all national #1 singles . . . .

[His] greatest success came with . . . the children’s talent quest cum variety show Young Talent Time, which premiered . . . in early 1971. It was a massive success . . . a genuine family show that appealed to everyone from eight to eighty . . .

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