“Relax” was the first song to emphasize the then, shock impact of Frankie members Holly Johnson’s and Paul Rutherford’s open homosexuality
In 1984 “Relax” the controversial debut single by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, became the longest running chart hit since 1967
On September 15, 1984, after spending 43 weeks on the UK singles chart, Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s signature song, the controversial “Relax”, became the longest running chart hit since Engelbert Humperdink’s “Release Me” in 1967, notable for preventing The Beatles “Strawberry Fields Forever”/”Penny Lane” single to reach No.1. Although fairly inauspicious upon initial release, “Relax” finally reached number one on the UK singles chart on 22 January 1984, ultimately becoming one of the most controversial and most commercially successful records of the decade. The single eventually sold a reported 2 million copies in the UK alone, making it the seventh best-selling single in the UK Singles Chart’s history. “Relax” would be the first song that emphasized the shock impact of Frankie members Holly Johnson’s and Paul Rutherford’s open homosexuality in the packaging and music videos. When first released in November 1983, the initial progress of “Relax” on the UK Top 75 was sluggish, but then on Thursday 5 January 1984, Frankie Goes to Hollywood performed “Relax” on the BBC’s Top of the Pops and the song begun to escalate quickly in the chart. However, by January 11th, 1984, BBC’s Radio 1 disc jockey Mike Read expressed on air his distaste for both the record’s suggestive sleeve and its lyrics, which centered on the oft-repeated “Relax, don’t do it/When you want to suck to it/Relax, don’t do it/ When you want to come.” He announced his refusal to play the record, not knowing that the BBC had just decided that the song was not to be played on the BBC anyway. In support of their disc jockey, BBC Radio banned the single from its shows on January 13th, 1984. The banned “Relax” rose to number 2 in the charts by 17 January, and hit the No.1 spot on 24 January. By this time, the BBC Radio ban had extended to Top of the Pops as well, which displayed a still picture of the group during its climactic No.1 announcement, before airing a performance by a non-Number One artist. The ban became an embarrassment for the BBC, especially given that UK commercial radio and television stations were still playing the song. Later in 1984 the ban was lifted and “Relax” featured on both the Christmas Day edition of Top of the Pops and Radio 1’s rundown of the best-selling singles of the year. Despite all the controversy, the song won Best British Single at the 1985 Brit Awards and it remains today one of the 1980’s absolute and most famous Pop classics.
Look back at the controversial 1984 original music video for “Relax” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood
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