Johnny Young He’s 70!

He may be a g grand­fa­ther nine times over but this old-ti old-time rocker has no plans to slow dow down dis­cov­ers CRAIG BEN­NETT

Woman’s Day (Australia) - - Con­tents -

With his blue eyes twin­kling and his fa­mous sunny smile flash­ing, it’s hard to be­lieve it’s al­most 30 years since Johnny Young last graced our TV screens. The leg­endary host of Young Tal­ent Time in­sists he’s a “big kid at heart”, and is ready to find a new gen­er­a­tion of stars, still work­ing in stage shows with up-and-com­ing tal­ent. “I can’t be­lieve I’ll be turn­ing 70,” Johnny says. “I’m con­vinced that not wast­ing time on re­grets, along with med­i­ta­tion, love and em­brac­ing seren­ity, is the key to hap­pi­ness.” The en­ter­tainer, who also notches up 56 years in show­biz this year, largely dis­ap­peared from TV when Young Tal­ent Time was axed in 1988, but now he’s back on the road, en­ter­tain­ing a new gen­er­a­tion of fans. He is cur­rently tour­ing a show cel­e­brat­ing the mu­sic of Karen Car­pen­ter, star­ring a “fab­u­lously tal­ented singer named Narelle Belle”, who he says has a voice which could be mis­taken for the su­per­star her­self. “They were some of the best times of my life,” he en­thuses about his years on the pop­u­lar show. “Young Tal­ent Time helped launch the en­dur­ing ca­reers of some great Aussie stars, from Jamie Red­fern, De­bra Byrne and Sally Boy­den to Karen Knowles, Tina Arena and Dan­nii Minogue.” But the years since have not al­ways been kind to the TV host who made The Bea­tles clas­sic All My Lov­ing his sig­na­ture song, per­form­ing it at the end of each episode. When the show’s ex­tra­or­di­nary 17-year run came to an end, it al­most de­stroyed Johnny, who suf­fered a string of per­sonal tragedies and lost his for­tune. “My first wife Jane died of leukaemia, my mother and step­fa­ther passed away, the re­ces­sion hit, my TV stu­dio went broke and I lost my house,” he says.

“Pick­ing up the pieces, I went bush, drop­ping out for sev­eral years in ru­ral Vic­to­ria. I didn’t shave and be­came a hippy. I think med­i­ta­tion saved my san­ity, it al­lowed me to ‘get real’.”

Johnny has been med­i­tat­ing daily after a pe­riod of soul search­ing took him to In­dia in 1976, where he met guru Prem Rawat.

“I spent time in an Ashram and dis­cov­ered the true mean­ing of in­ner hap­pi­ness,” he says.

Then, three years ago, Johnny’s world was shat­tered again when his beloved son Craig, 48, died of pan­cre­atic can­cer. “How do you re­bound from such a loss?” he says.

“I’m blessed to have two won­der­ful daugh­ters [Anna, who runs the Johnny Young Tal­ent School, and Fleur, who works in fash­ion] and I’m also a proud grand­dad of nine. We’ve al­ways been a very tight fam­ily, so our close­ness has got us through the tough­est of times.”

With sev­eral mar­riages be­hind him, Johnny found love again 15 years ago with his Pol­ish-born econ­o­mist wife Mar­isha, 50, who he de­scribes as his saviour. “We both feel so lucky to have met each other,” he re­veals.

Johnny laughs off any sug­ges­tion of re­tire­ment, ex­plain­ing that he’s been singing for his sup­per since he was a child – and has been lov­ing ev­ery minute of it.

“My mum Anna was a singer, so our house was al­ways filled with mu­sic,” he says.

“I started per­form­ing when I was two, singing songs for our next-door neigh­bour, who’d re­ward me with a chook that usu­ally be­came the Sun­day roast.”

By 16, he was host­ing his own TV show in Perth, be­fore he moved to Lon­don in the 1960s, where he be­came a song­writer and lived briefly with Bee Gees great Mau­rice Gibb and his wife Mau­reen.

“I toured Europe with my band, ap­pear­ing on nu­mer­ous TV shows – the Bee Gees even sang back-up for me!” re­mem­bers Johnny, who also opened for the Rolling Stones in Western Aus­tralia.

He had num­ber-one hits with Step Back and Cara-lyn and also penned some of Aus­tralia’s most pop­u­lar songs, like The Real Thing for Rus­sell Mor­ris.

But it was when he launched Young Tal­ent Time in 1971 – four years be­fore Aus­tralia even had colour TV – that he re­ally be­came a house­hold name.

“I still love singing and dis­cov­er­ing new tal­ent… I’m just an old rocker at heart!”

‘I still love singing… I’m just an old rocker at heart’

Johnny with the cast of Young Tal­ent Time, in­clud­ing Dan­nii Minogue. xxxx Lorem ip­sum Johnny Ipi­tate­mand saer­nam,Narelle Bel­leto cor­ru­mare tour­ing con rerit ve­ria showa cus about ac­cus Karen Car­pen­ter. With long-time friend Olivia New­ton-john. YTT, which launched many ca­reers in­clud­ing De­bra Byrne’s (fourth from right), scooped up six TV Week Lo­gies in its run.He­here with John Tra­volta an and daugh­ter Anna, Jo­hjohnny was in­ducted into the TV Week Lo­gie Awards Hall of Fame in 1990.

Johnny says he feels lucky to have found his wife Mar­isha.

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