Johnny O'Keefe: A Little Bit Louder Now


'The Wild One’ and the NFSA

'(You know you make me wanna) Shout!’

Johnny O’Keefe is an icon of Australian rock 'n’ roll. He led the first wave of Australian rock music in the late 1950s and early 1960s with hits like 'Shout’ and 'Wild One’ and would have turned 81 on 19 January 2016.

The O’Keefe family recently donated over 700 items of JOK memorabilia and recordings to the NFSA, from the start of his career in 1952 to his untimely death in 1978. Johnny’s brother Barry was particularly concerned that Johnny’s achievements in the music and television industry be preserved and recognised. This online exhibition includes rare television footage, oral history interviews, photographs, documents, artefacts and costumes from our collection – items that help us understand Johnny’s O’Keefe’s place as a trailblazer in the story of Australian rock ‘n’ roll.

The exhibition also includes two immense scrapbooks, lovingly compiled by Johnny’s mother Thelma over more than a decade, from 1954 to 1965. Through these scrapbooks you can track, page by page, Johnny’s meteoric rise in the music and television industries as well as the setbacks – including his horrific car crash in 1960, destabilising health issues and financial difficulties.

The exhibition begins with Johnny’s Early days, including his childhood, first concerts and debut single. His steady rise to become Australia’s first rock 'n’ roll star is documented in the First scrapbook. On stage looks at Johnny’s energetic live persona and includes extracts from his tour programs. On record features highlights of his hit recording career. Aiming for America covers his attempts to hit it big overseas. You can see JOK fan artefacts in Fans and fame and clips from the television programs he hosted in TV star. After photos of some of his Costumes and the Second scrapbook, there are the setbacks and comebacks of his Last decade and the four symbols of JOK’s lasting Legacy: a mini-series, stage musical, postage stamp and colossal bronze statue. Don’t forget to read the JOK Trivia in the right sidebar.

Early days

'Ready for You’

John Michael O’Keefe (19 January 1935–6 October 1978) was born in Bondi Junction, Sydney. In this clip from the first series of This is Your Life, host Mike Willesee brings out Johnny’s parents and siblings to reminisce about his childhood, moving him to tears in the process:

Johnny O’Keefe on This is Your Life, 5 October 1975. Courtesy of Lifetime Associates. NFSA title: 32271

His first performance as a singer was in 1952 at the Bondi Auditorium, followed by a concert at the RAAF centre in Richmond where he was undertaking military service training. During his National Service training, Johnny met Alan Dale. Here Alan recounts getting to know Johnny and the story of one of his earliest performances, with the Gus Merzi Quartet at a charity fundraiser in Mosman:

Alan Dale was interviewed by Nick Weare in 2009 for the NFSA’s Oral History program (NFSA Title: 797685).

In 1955, Johnny heard 'Rock Around the Clock’, performed by Bill Haley and His Comets on the soundtrack to the movie Blackboard Jungle. It changed his life forever. Within a year he had formed a rock ’n’ roll band, Johnny O’Keefe and the Dee Jays, and was regularly performing at suburban dances in council halls, police clubs and during the interval between films at Manly’s Embassy Theatre.

Johnny met Bill Haley when he toured Australia in March 1957. Haley gave Johnny his song '(You Hit the Wrong Note) Billy Goat’ and it became the first song recorded by Johnny O’Keefe and the Dee Jays:

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'(You Hit the Wrong Note) Billy Goat’ from the EP ‘(You Hit the Wrong Note) Billy Goat’ / 'I’m Still Alive (The Chicken Song)’, Festival Records FS1532, 1957.

  NFSA title: 303011

Gallery: Early days of JOK

Images and documents relating to Johnny O’Keefe’s early years as a performer.

Scrapbook 1, 1954-1961

The first of two scrapbooks compiled by Johnny’s mother, Thelma O’Keefe, covers 1954-1961. This scrapbook documents his early years in the industry and contains a dizzying array of items, including reviews, advertisements, concert programs, posters, magazines, airline tickets and even receipts for venues hired for concerts. The scrapbook also contains a ‘Friends of Johnny O’Keefe’ fan club letterhead, envelopes, certificates and newsletters; the club kept Johnny’s growing legion of fans up-to-date with his latest achievements and upcoming events:

For the best viewing experience, click on the 'fullscreen’ icon and zoom in. Zoom using the sliding bar at the bottom of each page.

Johnny O’Keefe scrapbook, 1954-1961. NFSA title: 1293556

On stage

'Wild One’

Even from the start, Johnny O’Keefe was known for his energetic live performances. He got his lucky break in 1957 when he became one of the first Australian singers in one of promoter Lee Gordon’s 'Big Shows’ at Sydney Stadium, after international act Gene Vincent was stranded in Honolulu. Johnny convinced Lee to let him sing three songs and Johnny O’Keefe and the Dee Jays went on to play many more times at Sydney Stadium including with Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry. Johnny was inspired by several overseas acts of the time including Little Richard, for his charismatic stage act, and comedian Jack Benny, for his impeccable timing.

In this clip from Lee Gordon’s Rock 'n’ Roll Spectacular (1959), Johnny sings 'Shout’ with the Dee Jays and the Delltones as part of a 1959 concert showcasing American teen idol, Fabian:

Excerpt from Bandstand Salutes Johnny O’Keefe, 1966. Courtesy of Nine Network.

  NFSA title: 1349308

This is a radio ad for another 1959 concert at Sydney Stadium. The 'Shower of Stars’ tour featured international acts like Chuck Berry and Bobby Darin, and Johnny O’Keefe was the headline local act:

Headliners 'Shower of Stars’ concert advertisement, 1959. NFSA Title: 702422

In this clip from a 1966 special episode of TV’s Bandstand, Johnny O’Keefe and fellow rock pioneers Col Joye and Digby Richards reminisce about the thrills and perils of performing live in the early days of rock 'n’ roll:

Excerpt from Bandstand Salutes Johnny O’Keefe, 1966. Courtesy of Nine Network.

  NFSA title: 1349308

Jazz musician Trevor Rippingale occasionally played with Johnny O’Keefe and the Dee Jays in concerts and on ABC TV’s Six O’Clock Rock. In this clip, Trevor describes what Johnny taught them all about showmanship:

Trevor Rippingale was interviewed by John Sharpe in 2001 for the NFSA’s Oral History program (NFSA Title: 537286).

Gallery: JOK on stage

Images related to Johnny O’Keefe as a stage performer.

Gallery: JOK concert programs

Excerpts from Johnny O’Keefe concert programs.

On record

'Sing Sing Sing’

During his 26-year career, Johnny released over 50 singles, 40 EPs and 40 albums and had many Top 40 chart hits after the first national charts were established by Sydney radio station 2UE in March 1958. His number one hits included: ‘She’s My Baby’ (1960), ‘I’m Counting on You’ (1961), ‘Move Baby Move’ (1963) and ‘You’ll Never Cherish a Love so True’ (1963). All in all, Johnny had 11 Top 10 hits and another 18 songs to make the Top 40. His last hit, ‘Mockingbird’, reached number 8 in 1974.

Composed by Dee Jay members John Greenan, Dave Owens and Johnny O’Keefe himself, 'Wild One’ was originally released in 1958 on the EP Shakin’ at the Stadium. Wanting to capture the feel of his live shows, the first version of 'Wild One’ had the sound of a concert audience dubbed over the top of the recording. This clip is from the second version of 'Wild One’, as released on Johnny’s Golden Album (1959), and featuring a fuller, richer sound:

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'Wild One’ from the album 'Johnny’s Golden Album’, Festival Records FM6005, 1959.

  NFSA title: 202561

In this excerpt from a 1977 radio interview with the ABC’s Terry Malcolm, Johnny talks about the primitive recording techniques used in the early days. He explains how they made use of the toilet block to capture the desired reverberation effect in 'Shout’:

Johnny O’Keefe interviewed by Terry Malcolm, 2CY ABC Radio, 1977. NFSA Title: 525121

Here’s an excerpt from 'Shout’, a cover version of The Isley Brothers’ song, and Johnny’s first big hit:

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From the single ‘Shout: Part I and II’ / 'What I’d Say’, Leedon Records LS575, 1959.

  NFSA title: 291301

Aboriginal singer-songwriter Vic Simms worked with Col Joye and the Joy Boys, Johnny O’Keefe, the Delltones and others in the rock 'n’ roll era of the 1960s. Here, Vic recounts a story from when he was 15 years old and Johnny O’Keefe asked for his input into what would become two future hit records:

Vic Simms was interviewed by Brenda Gifford in 2009 for the NFSA’s Oral History program. (NFSA Title: 792538)

Arguably the most unusual of Johnny’s songs in the NFSA collection is a recording of him singing 'To Love’ in Greek ('Na agapas’). Performed live at either a concert or an event such as a wedding, it was recorded on a small seven-inch lacquer record some time after 1962. The tune is based on 'La Paloma’, composed by Sebastián Yradier in the 1860s, which has featured in many recordings including Elvis Presley’s 'No More’ (1961). 'To Love’ was first recorded in May 1961 by Ral Donner, an American singer known for sounding like Elvis.

Johnny’s Greek record may have originated from a suggestion by George Yiannopoulos, who ran the Greek emporium next door to Johnny’s father Raymond’s furniture store. George had launched a record label for Greek artists but his daughter Olga was a fan of Johnny’s, so George arranged a meeting through Raymond. When Johnny dropped by the emporium, George encouraged him to try singing in Greek. We can only assume this recording was the eventual result. It begins with a brief spoken intro from Johnny in which he says, 'I’ve been practising pretty hard’:

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'To Love (Na Agapas)’.

  NFSA title: 1241061

Aiming for America

'I’m Counting On You’

Johnny O’Keefe first visited America in November 1959, convinced he could make it in the birthplace of rock 'n’ roll. Almost by chance, he managed to arrange a meeting at Liberty Records where he signed a five-year recording contract. He recorded 'She’s My Baby’ in Los Angeles in late 1959 with producer Snuffy Garret and the best session musicians Liberty could find, including drummer Earl Palmer and guitarists Barney Kessel and Scotty Turner. 'She’s My Baby’ was released in Australia on 7 January 1960 and became his first number one record. The song has a slick and polished sound, due to the superior production facilities and experienced staff available in America at that time:

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'She’s My Baby’ from the single ‘She’s My Baby / Own True Self’, Lee Gordon Records LS582, 1959.

  NFSA title: 291386

Johnny returned to America in April 1960 for a whirlwind 36-state tour over six weeks promoting his recordings at radio stations and on TV shows such as Dick Clark’s Bandstand and New York’s The Clay Cole Show. Liberty Records promoted Johnny as the 'Boomerang Boy’ and organised boomerang throwing competitions as publicity stunts. Even with lessons in boomerang throwing from Joe Timbery in Sydney, Johnny didn’t often win. Worse, his records didn’t sell and he didn’t make the US breakthrough he’d hoped for.

In this clip from the ABC’s Six O’Clock Rock from May 1960, Johnny briefly mentions his US visit while interviewing band-leader Percy Faith, whose 'Theme From A Summer Place' was a big hit in 1960. Johnny demonstrates his fascination with the birthplace of his musical idols, Johnnie Ray, Bill Haley and Elvis, wondering if Percy has actually met Elvis in person. They discuss the future of rock 'n’ roll, unaware that it will soon take a new direction when The Beatles burst onto the scene:

Excerpt from Six O’Clock Rock, 1960.

  NFSA title: 43377

In this clip, from a 1966 Bandstand special, Johnny talks to Brian Henderson about returning from his disappointing American tour and the lead-up to his horrific car crash in June 1960:

Excerpt from Bandstand Salutes Johnny O’Keefe, 1966. Courtesy of Nine Network.

  NFSA title: 1349308

After the car crash, Johnny’s fans and peers rallied in support. Music promoter Lee Gordon organised a series of benefit concerts which took place in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to raise money for Johnny O’Keefe, musician Johnny Greenan and Greenan’s wife, who were all badly injured in the crash. Many musicians, including Col Joye, performed at the tribute concerts for free.

Gallery: JOK in the US, 1960 tribute concert

Images relating to JOK’s visit to the US and the program for a tribute concert held after his return.

Fans and fame

'She Wears My Ring’

In the 1960s, Johnny O’Keefe fans had plenty of ways to get their fix of their idol. Besides concerts, records and TV appearances (see below), Johnny had a radio program on the ABC (Rocksville Junction) and wrote a weekly column in Weekend magazine called ‘Teensville Junction’, where he told his fans ‘the top news in show business, in records, in clothes, in people’. By 1960, the ‘Friends of Johnny O’Keefe’ fan club had 8,000 members. For five shillings, you received a photo of Johnny, a biography and an 'I am a friend of Johnny O’Keefe’ badge.

Fellow rocker Lonnie Lee talks about the work involved in running these fan clubs. Johnny got Lonnie signed to Leedon Records after seeing him win an Elvis Presley impersonator competition at Sydney’s Trocadero Ballroom. They toured together many times and Johnny was best man at Lonnie’s wedding in 1960.

Lonnie Lee was interviewed by Nick Weare in 2008 for the NFSA’s Oral History program (NFSA Title: 765331).

Gallery: JOK fan memorabilia

Johnny O’Keefe promotional and fan items from the early 1960s.

Television star

'Move Baby Move’

Johnny O’Keefe initially saw television as just another gig, but soon realised the power of the medium to reach and build a national audience. The first of four shows that he hosted in the 1960s, Six O’Clock Rock ran on the ABC from February 1959 to September 1962. Billed as the ‘first national teenage programme’, it was Australia’s first live-to-air music TV program.

The pressure of live television is obvious from this clip. Johnny giggles when he realises he has inadvertently endorsed Louis Prima’s movie Hey Girl, Hey Boy with a free plug on a government-owned TV station. Flustered, he forgets the name of the song he’s about to present, ‘Only Love Me’, and valiantly tries to conceal that he’s forgotten the name of performer Ernie Wilson too:

Excerpt from Six O’Clock Rock, 1959.

  NFSA title: 599364

At the height of his fame, Johnny O’Keefe left the ABC for ATN 7 to become host and frequent performer on The Johnny O’Keefe Show. Commercial television broadened his appeal even further and the show was a big hit. In this clip from the first episode, improved production values and Johnny O’Keefe’s increasing confidence as a TV performer are obvious as he begins the show singing 'I Feel Comfort in My Heart’:

Excerpt from The Johnny O’Keefe Show – Episode 1, 1961. Courtesy of 7 Network Australia.

  NFSA title: 281764

In September 1962, The Johnny O’Keefe Show was renamed Sing Sing Sing as the frequent absences of Johnny O’Keefe from his own show were getting difficult to explain. The absences were partly because of well-publicised nervous breakdowns, and renaming the show allowed ATN 7 to bring on other comperes as required.

Recorded at the start of 1964, this episode of Sing Sing Sing features hitmakers of the day Paul Wayne, Digby Richards, Johnny Devlin and Johnny O’Keefe singing excerpts of each others’ hit songs from 1963. With obvious camaraderie they accompany and sometimes interrupt the other performances. Johhny sings Johnny Devlin’s hit ‘Stomp the Tumbaruma’, while enthusiastically 'stomping’, and Johnny Devlin returns the favour with O’Keefe’s hit ‘Move Baby Move’. Dancer, actor and choreographer Sir Robert Helpmann joins them on the set as Johnny wraps up the show and the credits roll:

Excerpt from Sing Sing Sing – Episode 66, 1964. Courtesy of 7 Network Australia.

  NFSA title: 35206

Gallery: JOK television star

Images relating to Johnny O’Keefe’s time as a regular TV host and star.

Gallery: The Johnny O’Keefe Show (1962)

The Johnny O’Keefe Show aired on ATN 7 from October 1961 to August 1962. These cue sheets and credits from Episodes 34 and 35 are from the final phase of the show. NFSA Title: 685570

Dressed for success

'Shake Baby Shake’

In 1959, Johnny claimed he had 40 suits all worth over 100 pounds each. Tailors known to have made costumes for Johnny include Andy Ellis, Pineapple Joe, Len Taylor, Vince Gerbino and his mother Thelma.

In this radio interview from the 1970s, Johnny explains the inspiration for his flamboyant early costumes and, amid much laughter, why he stopped wearing them:

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Johnny O’Keefe is interviewed by 2SM reporters about his costumes. Courtesy of the Archdiocese of Sydney.

  NFSA title: 546208

Gallery: JOK clothes

A selection of clothing worn by Johnny O’Keefe.

Scrapbook 2, 1962-1965

The second scrapbook compiled by Johnny’s mother, Thelma covers 1962-1965. While this was a period of great achievement for Johnny, there was also plenty of drama with well-publicised breakdowns, financial difficulties and court appearances.

For the best viewing experience, click on the 'fullscreen’ icon and zoom in. Zoom using the sliding bar at the bottom of each page.

Johnny O’Keefe Scrapbook Vol 2, 1962-1965. NFSA Title: 1293569

Comedowns and comebacks

'So Tough’

The year 1966 was a low point for Johnny. He was divorced from his first wife, Marianne; his television show Sing Sing Sing had recently ceased production; and he was struggling with mental health and financial problems. Many of the fans that used to send his records racing up the charts had moved on to The Beatles and the new British Beat sound. Unable to get another job on television, Johnny starting touring regional areas and playing at small clubs.

In this excerpt from the 1977 radio program The Johnny O’Keefe Story, Johnny talks about the end of his run on television and how he started travelling around doing tent shows with showground entrepreneur Frank Foster to help pay off his debts. He decided to record a country and western song, aimed squarely at the critics mocking him for leaving television:

Excerpt from The Johnny O’Keefe Story, 1977. NFSA Title: 765663

First recorded by Hank Williams in 1952, Be Careful of Stones that You Throw is the only country and western song Johnny ever recorded. It tells the story of a young woman, shunned by her neighbours, who dies while heroically saving the child of one of her critics. Following the winding up of his television career, this cautionary tale resonated with Johnny, who thought he was being written off by his peers in the television and music industries:

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‘Be Careful of Stones that You Throw’ from the single ‘Be Careful of Stones that You Throw / My Heart Belongs To Only You’, Leedon Records LK1416, 1966.

  NFSA title: 291804

In 1967, Johnny made a guest appearance on the Channel 10 game show, Personality Squares. Celebrities were asked quiz questions and contestants had to guess whether their answers were correct or not. Also appearing as a guest on this episode was actress Jacki Weaver. Compere John Bailey mentions that Johnny will be starting up a new show on Channel 10; he is referring to Where the Action is, Johnny’s short-lived final TV series which was on air less than a year.

Excerpt from Personality Squares, 1967.

Courtesy of FremantleMedia   NFSA title: 490941

Even though he wasn’t topping the charts or appearing regularly on TV, JOK remained in the public eye. 'Tell them JOK sent ya!’ is how he signs off this radio ad for the 'brand new basic Falcon sedan’ available at Sydney Ford dealers:

Radio advertisement by Johnny O’Keefe for a brand new basic Ford Falcon sedan, c1970s. Courtesy of Ford Motor Company of Australia Limited. NFSA Title: 578356

This is a segment of a longer recording made in 1972 for an unidentified radio station where Johnny, in brief grabs, introduces himself and gives his thoughts on various social issues. In this extract, he talks about the influence of television on children, whether drugs should be legalised, the pressures of fame and the value of friendship and his thoughts on God, including whether or not God might be a woman:

Johnny O’Keefe gives his views on social issues, 1972. NFSA Title: 258710

In January 1973, Johnny won over an initially hostile teenage crowd at the Sunbury 73 rock festival. MC Paul Hogan jokingly introduced Johnny at Sunbury as a new talent with lots of potential to make it as a household name. He reused his intro on the first episode of The Paul Hogan Show later the same year, before Johnny sang 'Sing (And Tell the Blues So Long)’. A hit in 1962, the lyrics now had added poignancy from his struggles with mental illness and periodic nervous breakdowns ('Well I can’t do nothin’ with the blues I got but sing, sing, sing / I guess the only thing to keep me from-a blowing my top is to sing, sing, sing’):

Excerpt from The Paul Hogan Show – Episode 1, 1973. Courtesy of Rimfire Films. Please note: the variable quality of this clip is due to the source tape.

  NFSA title: 697849

Throughout the late 1960s and into the ’70s, Johnny continued to perform and release records. His last Top 10 hit came in 1974 with his version of 'Mockingbird’, sung with Margaret McLaren:

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‘Mockingbird’ from the single ‘Mockingbird / Soulshake’, Festival Records FK5177, 1973.

  NFSA title: 297978

He recorded ‘Mockingbird’ in October 1972 and released it in the middle of 1973, well ahead of the Carly Simon-James Taylor duet, but both versions charted nationally in Australia at the same time in 1974, with Johnny’s version reaching number eight in the Top 40. The original was recorded by Inez and Charlie Foxx in 1963.

Gallery: JOK’s last decade

Images from Johnny O’Keefe’s last decade.

JOK’s legacy

'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?’

Cover to the program of the musical Shout! The Legend of The Wild One (2001), starring David Campbell as O’Keefe.

  NFSA title: 1302134

Johnny O’Keefe passed away, aged 43, on 6 October 1978 as a result of a heart attack brought on by an accidental overdose of prescription medication. Right up to the end, he was still performing and full of ideas about future projects.

Following his death, his contribution to the Australian music industry has been recognised in many different ways:

  • In 1985, ATN 7 produced the mini-series Shout! The Story of Johnny O’Keefe.
  • In 1988, Johnny O’Keefe was inducted into the ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) Hall of Fame.
  • In 1998, Australia Post released a stamp of ‘The Wild One’ as part of their Australian Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Early Years series.
  • In 2000, David Campbell played Johnny in a musical featuring his hits and based on his life, Shout! The Story of the Wild One.
  • In 2007, the NFSA added ‘She’s my Baby’ to the Sounds of Australia registry of sound recordings with cultural, historical and aesthetic significance.

Mini-series and musical

The mini-series Shout! The Story of Johnny O’Keefe aired on the Seven Network in April 1986 starring Terry Serio as O’Keefe, directed by Ted Robinson and written by Robert Caswell. Covering the period between Johnny starting school at Waverley College aged 4 1/2, to his untimely death in 1978, this dramatic recreation of Johnny’s life was developed after discussions with over a hundred of Johnny’s friends, fellow performers and business associates.

David Campbell played O’Keefe on stage in a similarly named musical, Shout! The Legend of The Wild One. Directed by Richard Wherrett from a book by John-Michael Howson, David Mitchell and Melvyn Morrow, it opened at Melbourne’s State Theatre on 5 January 2001.

Images and documents relating to the re-creation of Johnny O’Keefe’s life as a TV mini-series and stage musical.

Stamp of approval

Australia Post confirmed Johnny O’Keefe’s status as a music icon by putting him on a postage stamp in 1998. That he remains a towering symbol of Australian rock 'n’ roll is best symbolised by a five-metre high statue unveiled in Tweed Heads, New South Wales in June 2004.

Images of the Johnny O’Keefe postage stamp (1998) and unveiling of the larger-than-life statue in Tweed Heads, NSW (2004).

Acknowledgements

'I Thank You’

Special thanks to Barry O’Keefe for his generous donation of Johnny O’Keefe material and to Janette O’Keefe for her ongoing support; without them this exhibition would not have been possible.

Thanks also to the 7 Network Australia, Nine Network, Network 10, Lifetime Associates and Rimfire Films; FreemantleMedia; Lonnie Lee, Alan Dale, Vic Simms and Trevor Rippingale for permission to reproduce interviews; Fairfax Media, Bauer Media, the Archdiocese of Sydney, RSN – Racing and Sport, Department of Defence/ADF, Nestle Australia, and the Ford Motor Company of Australia Limited.

See also Related content for sources used in compiling the exhibition.

Comments

Fan-bloody-tastic.
A wealth of information on The King.

Richard Felstead on 18 Jan 2016, 3:41 p.m.

Fantastic stuff. Congratulations

This is fantastic!! Thanks!

Mat Hunt on 20 Jan 2016, 8 a.m.

Australia's KING of Rock n Roll. Always number ONE. Thanks for the memories Johnny.

John Regan on 21 Jan 2016, 4:44 p.m.

EXcellent update from when the NFSA released the DVD under the leadership of Nick Weare. Top marks to all concerned and a few nice items that have seen the light after many years contained in the O'Keefe family Archives. Thanks to them for sharing with all JOK fans and supporters

bob hayden on 01 Feb 2016, 7:33 a.m.

Hard to believe that we lost him almost 40 years ago. He was so much a part of our lives as we grew up in Sydney and this material has helped ensure that he stays part of ours and our childrens lives. Well done to all concerned.

Bob Davies on 03 Feb 2016, 4:10 p.m.

Saw JO'K at Balmain Leagues Club in his latter years - came on stage like a shot out of a cannon and had the audience cheering. Didn't have the best refined voice but what a showman - an Australian original and irreplaceable.

Grant Errington on 11 Jun 2016, 1:39 a.m.

I saw JOK at Melbournes festival hall it was the greatest show l have ever seen at the end he came back and did about 9 encores everyone was standing on the seats going mad. In the end they turned the lights on so we would have to leave. Today at 70 years old I think he is the greatest rock and roll singer. Thank you to NFSA for sharing this information.

Russell gaynor on 20 Jul 2016, 4:26 p.m.

This is an amazing exhibit, absolutely comprehensive and totally engrossing. JOK was the king — well, our king.

jeff apter on 22 Jul 2016, 10:51 a.m.

I had the pleasure of singing {with my group] on the same venue as Johnny on a few occasions & he was always pleasant & complimentary to us.He was most definitely the Aussie king of rock & roll.

Alf Stonestreet on 24 Jul 2016, 1:35 p.m.

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