John Paul Young: “I was frozen with fear”




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Fifty years ago, that fateful telegram invited JPY to audition for the original Australian production of Jesus Christ Superstar. The show would finally launch its pop career after a few false starts.

On opening night in May 1972, he met music guru Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum, sparking an unlikely friendship. Soon, JPY became a regular guest and part-time host on Countdown.

“I had a healthy disrespect for Molly, like he did for me,” says the 71-year-old, still most famous for his much-loved global hit, Love is in the air.

“We got along really well from the start. I’ll never forget Molly on the dance floor that night!”


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On the first JPY Countdown appearance, oddly dressed in a sailor suit to sing his top 10 single, yesterday’s heroes, he was dragged off stage by an audience of screaming teenage girls. He later revealed his pal’s secret nickname by introducing a segment with “Here’s boring old Molly with a boring old routine!” It’s stuck.

ABC bosses cringed at the chaos, but viewers adored the irreverent Glasgow, whose family arrived in Oz on Australia Day in 1962 when JPY was 11. He was working as a sheet metal apprentice when his classmates persuaded him to sing in their band.

“I never, ever had any aspirations to be on stage,” smiles the grandfather of three, who recently embarked on an eventful JPY: 50 Years Young – The Anniversary Tour.

“It just wasn’t me. That’s why you see that petrified person in those early clips. I was frozen with fear!

Along the way, there have of course been slumps as well as high points.


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“Absolutely, I’ve been depressed at times,” admits the strong Men’s Shed Association supporter and mental health advocate.

“Anyone who tells you they haven’t been depressed is telling you a lie. I think that’s part of the human condition,” adds JPY, proud host of The wireless shed Podcast.

“There’s nothing to panic about, as long as you recognize it for what it is and get help if you need it. There are lots of people you can talk to – Lifeline and places like that are wonderful at what they do.

He’s a contented guy, hanging out at his home on the NSW central coast with Lynette, his partner of over 50 years.


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These days, JPY likes to fish at nearby Lake Macquarie and drop by her local Men’s Shed for male company.

“I love the whole idea,” says JPY, now an honorary fraternity member. “Basically, it was something to get the old b—–d out of the house! I’ll chat over there once in a while.

With a stack of happy memories and no big regrets, JPY modestly sums up his remarkable life.

“This sheet metal worker went way beyond what he thought was going to happen!”

For more, pick up a copy of New Idea. On sale now!

If you or someone you know has been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, help is always available. Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit their website.

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