SPECIAL FEATURE- AUSMUSIC ROGUES GALLERY

 

 

 

 

Can’t Stop Myself from Loving You (H Vanda/G Young) and My Little Angel (H Vanda/G Young) – William Shakespeare 1974

 

The glam rock period produced some genuine curiosities, internationally Gary Glitter proved to be more than just curious, but the local scene could boast Skyhooks, Supernaut, and Johnny Cave (real name John Stanley Cave), a Sydney car detailer who became Johnny Cabe, and who at George Young’s suggestion, ultimately adopted the sobriquet of the world’s greatest literary figure, William Shakespeare. Why not, the names Gary Glitter, Alvin Stardust, Elton John, and Barry Blue had already been taken, and Johnny’s alternative suggestions had included the less catchy Chico Runt and Erx McGlerx

Johnny was convinced that he was the pop reincarnation of the Bard, as he postulated in the Real Thing by Toby Cresswell and Martin Fabinyi (1999) – “What we’re getting at is if Shakespeare the poet had been alive today in the rock & roll age, those are the sort of things he would have done…George and Harry write my stuff at the moment, that’s because I’ve been pretty busy with the costumes, and all, and haven’t got around to writing anything yet. But I thought up the name William Shakespeare and built up the character…” so far, all’s well that ends well as Will might have said, although history tells us that there is nothing more dangerous than an ego in search of talent.

The George and Harry to whom Johnny referred were Alberts Music songwriting royalty Vanda and Young, who had written Can’t Stop Myself from Loving You, and recorded the backing track for another singer who lacked the necessary vocal range, but Johnny’s falsetto was deemed to be adequate for the song.

The diminutive pop star was subsequently taken down to Kings Cross to be kitted out by a shop which specialized in dressing drag queens. They kitted him out in a gaudy green suede medieval outfit replete with puffy sleeves, fake costume jewelry, platform boots and all topped off with a damson-hued bouffant as he teetered around the Countdown set much to the adulation of his army of mostly pre-pubescent female fans.

This song was a substantial hit at #2 in July 1974, occupied the charts for 32 weeks, and was covered in the UK by one Billy Shake, gettit William/Billy…, Tina Charles also issued a cover version. An album entitled Can’t Stop Myself from Loving You comprising nearly all Vanda/Young compositions climbed to #27 in November 1974 and then Alberts released his biggest hit in time for Christmas. My Little Angel was another Vanda /Young composition with a “jingle bells’ accompaniment and seasonal setting, it told the story of a little girl who comes home from school upset because someone has told her that angels do not exist, must have been my old high school.

 

It was a smash hit, went straight to #1 and stayed on the charts for 23 weeks, it has been voted one of the daggiest songs written in Australia, and often features on “Worst Of” and “Most Embarrassing” compilations, but it gave Shakespeare his second consecutive hit song.

But what had been Johnny’s Midsummer Night’s Dream of success, was merely the calm before The Tempest that would engulf him, when an incident, that initially appeared to be Much Ado About Nothing, became a Comedy of Errors; when the pop star was found guilty of having carnal knowledge of one of the members of his fan club, and placed on probation for two years.

In a classic case of Love’s Labor Lost his next two singles stiffed, something about which William/Johnny could relate.

Ultimately alcoholism and mental illness took its toll on Shakespeare’s personal life and he sadly passed away in 2010.

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