Heroes should be celebrated. They should be lauded, worshipped and generally adored, close up as well as from afar. If they’re not already on a pedestal, then one should be provided to them pronto. Because heroes, I feel, are wonderful. Their achievements put a ‘spring’ into a life of otherwise flat-footed drudgery; they fill our lungs with breath so that we can proclaim their general magnificence.
Frankston has produced it’s fair share of heroes. Stanley Melbourne Bruce, who was the eighth Prime Minister of this country until, in a somewhat unfortunate twist, he became the first sitting PM to lose his seat at an election. Stanley then went on to a productive career as a bouncer at the 21stCentury Dance Club on Thursdays to Sundays. Frankston also produced the fabulously named Sir Harold W. Clapp who ran the railways for nearly twenty years and introduced mind-blowing innovations to locomotive transport such as air-conditioned carriages. I, for one, am grateful.
But whilst the city has produced a laudable crop of political and locomotive heavyweights, it’s the arts where it really comes into its own. The King of Australian television, Graham Kennedy, chose to live in Frankston. He could have lived anywhere, but chose here. Perhaps he’d got wind of the crystal light display at the Frankston cinema and simply had to see it for himself. Joan Lindsey – author of Picnic At Hanging Rock – also lived in Frankston; although rumours that the first draft was based at Arthur’s Seat have never been confirmed.
The exceptional Toni Watson (better known as ‘Tones and I’) who achieved the extraordinary by topping the charts in almost every country on earth but, for reasons that will never be fully understood, was given the ‘Meat Loaf slot’ at the AFL Grand Final, is also from Frankston. The list of local heroes is almost endless. And yet, some of the most amazing legends ever produced by this fair city have failed to get the recognition they so richly deserve. I speak, of course, of Johnny Logan.
I was going to say ‘for those unfamiliar with his work’ but, I suspect, there’s no one who’d fit that description. Whether you’re willing to admit it or not, Johnny Logan is buried deep inside your subconscious, like a repressed traumatic memory, ready to emerge at the least opportune moment. If the name ‘Johnny Logan’ doesn’t ring a bell of any kind, then it’s only fair I disclose that he’s also known by another name. Specifically, he’s also known as ‘Mr. Eurovision.’
On the off chance you’ve been living in the wilderness for the past seventy odd years, Eurovision is ostensibly a songwriting competition that doubles as a test of endurance. Essentially, it’s a chance for European nations to produce a piece execrable easy listening music, generally performed by someone dressed like a total lunatic and to gang up on whoever England decides to send. (They never get any votes. It’s sort of cruel, actually.)
Into this musical minefield, filled with the wreckage of power ballads gone wrong and continental techno-vomit, strode Johnny Logan like an absolute colossus. How, you might ask, does someone from Frankston end up at Eurovision? Simple. Johnny Logan was born in Frankston whilst his Irish parents were out here on tour and before you could say ‘chrome gnome’, he was away back to Ireland.
Johnny competed in 1980, performing the song ‘What’s Another Year?’ with such power that, along with his oversized lapels, it crushed all who dared stand in his way. So powerful, in fact, that he didn’t even bother getting up from his bar stool until about the three minute mark; just after a saxophone solo so exquisitely tasteful that the instrument itself may as well have been wearing a tuxedo. A win at Eurovision is an extraordinary feat, far beyond the Nobel Peace Prize but perhaps slightly short of earning the Coach’s encouragement award at the Tyabb Under-9s Junior Football Club. But he didn’t stop there.
In 1984, Johnny Logan wrote a song that someone else performed that came second. In 1987, dressed head to toe in white like some intergalactic goal umpire, Johnny Logan performed his signature hit ‘Hold Me Now’, producing one of the most dramatic moments in Eurovision history, when he crouched down, knees bent, voice dripping with emotion as he strained for the high notes. An unstoppable force, he once again took out the title. You’d think that’d be enough.
Despite this, there’s nothing to celebrate the achievements of Mr. Eurovision. Not a plaque, nor a street sign. Zip. It’s no way to treat a hero. It’s time to do something about this appalling state of affairs. The campaign starts here – to build a monument to Johnny Logan. Modelled on the ‘Christ the Redeemer’ statue overlooking Rio de Janeiro, giant Johnny Logan will sit astride Oliver’s Hill, head to toe in white and knees bent. Thirty metres of concrete Eurovision magnificence will stare out across the bay. It’ll be awesome. Sure, it’ll be incredibly expensive, but you can’t put a price on inspiration. Don’t bother trying to talk me out of it. To paraphrase Mr. Eurovision himself, you couldn’t hold me (back) now if you tried.