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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Johnny O'Keefe born 19 January 1935

John Michael O'Keefe, known as Johnny O'Keefe (19 January 1935 – 6 October 1978), was an Australian rock and roll singer whose career began in the 1950s. Some of his hits include "Wild One" (1958), "Shout!" and "She's My Baby". In his twenty-year career, O'Keefe released over fifty singles, 50 EPs and 100 albums.
With just a little assistance from promoter Lee Gordon, Johnny O'Keefe single-handedly willed Australian rock & roll into existence. Canadian-born but settled in Sydney, Lee Gordon was
bringing international talent to Australia. He had made and lost several fortunes already and was back on in the black when rock & roll arrived. He followed tours by "Nat King Cole" and Johnnie Ray by bringing a package tour headlined by Bill Haley and the Comets, the opening to their history making world tour.

Born 11 days after Elvis Presley, Johnny O'Keefe had formed his own rock band, the Dee Jays, saw all the Johnnie Ray shows, and was regularly seen hanging around the Lee Gordon offices, sitting on the concrete steps outside, hoping to catch someone's ear, hoping to be added to one of Lee Gordon's Stadium Shows. His tenacity paid off when he was added to the Haley bill, if only to give something to the Sydney audiences to hear as they found their seats. It gave O'Keefe the chance to see Haley perform; hang out with him in the dressing room, and to take him home to meet Mum.
Lee Gordon, however, wasn't in the least interested in promoting local Australian talent. But when Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps were stranded in Honolulu on their way to join Little Richard and Eddie Cochran on tour, O'Keefe and his group were quickly contacted to fill in for one night. A chance was all O'Keefe ever needed. Bill Haley would be instrumental in securing O'Keefe his recording contract.

Johnny O'Keefe became the first Australian pop star to chart. His breakthrough came with his third release, a song called "I'm the
Wild One." O'Keefe would be known as The Wild One throughout his career. Like Elvis, he was the real deal. In December, 1958, he was asked to compere a weekly American Bandstand style TV show, Six O’clock Rock, his platform to national success. He hit 
Johnny with Jerry lee Lewis

the Top Ten with "So Tough" and his version of the Isley Brothers' call-and-answer "Shout."
O'Keefe regarded success in the United States of America as the ultimate accolade. In November 1959 he had visited America and signed with Liberty Records. Next year he toured thirty-five States and appeared on the television programme, 'American Bandstand', but his reception was far from the triumph he wanted and he returned to Australia. On 27 June 1960 he was involved in a serious motorcar accident on the Pacific Highway near Kempsey. He received sixty-four stitches in his head and another twenty-six in his hands. After only seven weeks he again compeered 'Six O’clock Rock'. In 1961 he hosted the 'Johnny O'Keefe Show' on ATN-7. . The hits continued, including three more national number ones with "I'm Counting on You," "Move Baby Move," and "She Wears My Ring."
Then the Beatles generation hit and the generation of Australian rock O'Keefe had fostered fell from sight almost overnight -- in O'Keefe's case, fighting and scratching all the way. Although radio stopped playing his new records, Johnny O'Keefe was always out there trying and built up a healthy management and touring company. He was still one of Australia's hardest working and best-paid entertainers.
When he died on October 6, 1978, of a heart attack induced by an accidental overdose of prescribed drugs, Johnny O'Keefe was busy planning the expansion of his successful business and performing activities. 3000 people crammed into the Waverley, Sydney church and thousands more lined the streets to watch the funeral procession. In 2001, a stage musical Shout was mounted to celebrate Johnny O'Keefe's career and times and played to sell-out houses throughout the country, bringing millions to its promoters. In Australia, the legend lives on. Internationally, his records enjoy a cult following.
(Info mainly AMG and some Wikipedia and Australian Dictionary of Biography)  

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For “Johnny O’Keefe – The Wild One” go here:

01 johnny-o-keefe-hit-record.mp3
02 johnny-o-keefe-shout.mp3
03 johnny-o-keefe-sing.mp3
04 johnny-o-keefe-over-the-mountain.mp3
05 johnny-o-keefe-mockingbird.mp3
06 johnny-o-keefe-shes-my-baby.mp3
07 johnny-o-keefe-ready-for-you.mp3
08 johnny-o-keefe-move-baby-move.mp3
09 johnny-o-keefe-the-suns-gonna-shine-tomorrow.mp3
10 johnny-o-keefe-rocknroll-will-stand.mp3
11 johnny-o-keefe-the-dee-jays-the-wild-one.mp3
12 johnny-o-keefe-right-now.mp3
13 johnny-o-keefe-so-tough.mp3
14 johnny-o-keefe-she-wears-my-ring.mp3
15 johnny-o-keefe-im-counting-on-you.mp3
16 johnny-o-keefe-whatd-i-say.mp3