the hard times


Johnny O'Keefe's life was not only a series of great highs, but also of many lows.

A near fatal car crash in 1960 not only affected him physically, but it also had a huge psychological impact.

He suffered a series of highly publicised nervous breakdowns through the early 1960s and these saw him undergo electric shock treatment and lengthy periods in institutions, including Ryde Psychiatric Centre.

The arrival of The Beatles and other 'long haired' groups in 1963/4 saw him and that whole first era, slide from popularity.

This together with the loss of his television shows, and the death in 1963 of his mentor and friend, the legendary promoter Lee Gordon, hit him hard.

Despite being written off by critics, fans and many in the industry, Johnny demonstrated an amazing capacity to bounce back at different times through the 1960s and 1970s.

Whilst he achieved some of his greatest successes during these times he could not keep the fight up forever.

Gradually it all took a toll on his personal life and resulted in the collapse of his first marriage, and the loss of daily contact with his three young children who he adored.

With the gradual demise of his career, in the face of major changes in music, Johnny increasingly sought solace in alcohol and prescription drugs, and this eventually took the ultimate toll.

Like Elvis, America's King of Rock'n'Roll, it will be Johnny O'Keefe's fans who will write the final epitaph for history.

Editor's Note:
It is very easy for each of us to judge another's shortcomings, weaknesses and character traits they were born with; however, who's to say we would act any differently or better, if we were subjected to the experiences and demons that impacted their lives.

Written by Damian Johnstone author of the new exciting book
'The Wild One - the life and times of Johnny O'Keefe' - Allen & Unwin

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