To Love (Na Agapas)
The most unusual Johnny O'Keefe song 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. It begins with a brief spoken intro from Johnny in which he says, 'I’ve been practising pretty hard’.