Frankie Goes to Hollywood released “Relax” on October 23, 1983. Although it got off to a slow start, “Relax” eventually charted at #1 in the U.K. and #10 in the U.S. “Relax” won Best British Single at the 1985 Brit Awards.
Originally from Liverpool England, Frankie Goes to Hollywood took their name from a poster showing singer Frank Sinatra arriving in California to start his film career, with the headline FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD.
The BBC banned “Relax” and it shot to #1 for five consecutive weeks. The following singles, “Two Tribes” and “The Power of Love” also went to #1, making Frankie Goes to Hollywood only the second act in UK chart history to reach #1 with their first three singles. By May of 2006, “Relax” became the seventh best-selling single of all time.
After hearing Frankie Goes to Hollywood perform on John Peel’s radio program and on television, ZTT Records co-founder Trevor Horn signed the band and produced the single and subsequent album, Welcome to the Pleasure Dome. Horn’s ZZT co-founder, Paul Morley, used a shock approach to promote the single by emphasizing band members Holly Johnson and Paul Rutherford’s blatant homosexuality in marketing the song and music video.
Relax [Move] 3’52
Relax [Sex Mix] 16’24
Relax [From Soft to Hard] 4’21
Relax [New York Mix] [Sex Mix Edit] 8’20
Relax [U.S. Mix] 7’20
Relax [Disco Mix] 6’15
Relax [MCMXCIII] 3’42
Relax [Ollie J. Remix] 6’38
Relax [Jam & Soon Trip-O-Matic Fairy Tale Remix] 7’52
Relax [Jam & Spoon HI N-R-G Remix] 7’55
Relax [Trip-O-Ship Edit] 6’12
Relax [Ollie Je’s Seven Inches] 3’30
Relax [Peter Rauhofer’s Doomsday Radio Mix] 3’45
Relax [Peter Rauhofer’s Doomsday Club Mix] 9’47
Relax [Saeed & Palash Addictive Journey] 11’16
Relax [Coldcut Remix] 4’59
Relax [Peter Rauhofer’s Doomsday Dub] 6’27
Bernard Rose directed the first video for “Relax,” which takes place in Wilton’s Music Hall and featured gay S&M imagery. Both the BBC and MTV banned the video, so a tamer video featuring lasers was made and shown on TV. Filmmaker Brian De Palma also featured the band performing “Relax” in his motion picture, Body Double, which was released as a third music video.
My most distinct memory of “Relax” is singing along to it in my car in early 1985 and suddenly realizing that the song is about sex. In hindsight, it seems so obvious, but it never occurred to me that mainstream radio would play anything with such blatant lyrics.
I’ve also been surprised at the lasting impression this song has made on other members of my generation. While at an 80s-themed party a few weeks ago, several different people came up to me and requested this song.
What are your memories of “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood?