ENTERTAINMENT: Johnny Young still has a zest for life that he enjoys sharing with others.
ENTERTAINMENT: Johnny Young still has a zest for life that he enjoys sharing with others.

Johnny Young still delighting the crowds

"CLOSE your eyes and I'll kiss you, tomorrow I'll miss you."

Who among us does not sway a little when we hear Johnny Young's version of the lyrical Beatle's song, All My Loving?

The closing song to Young Talent Time sung by Johnny Young and his talented team of youngsters had us singing along from 1971 through 1988, 17 years for the duration of the popular show.

Young Talent Time which Johnny Young produced and hosted, became part of our lives, part of our social history, and was the launching pad for many young talented teens who later became superstars.

Now 70, with nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild, Johnny Young might have grey/white hair but his open cheerful face has not changed much at all.

And, as he has throughout his 50-year career in the entertainment and music industry, he is still working hard, and loving every moment of it.

"I only do the things I love to do," he said. "I have spent my life in music, started as a 14-year-old with my own band, had my first television show at 17, a hit record, 18 and it just kept growing from there."

'Growing from there' is quite an understatement from the Aussie icon and national treasure whose awards and achievements include three gold records as an artist, 1966 King of Pop, six gold records as songwriter, six TV Logie Awards, including Logie Hall of Fame, and GO-SET Songwriter of the year.

Johnny still has a zest for life that he shares with others through his 2CH radio show, occasional television appearances, and hosting like-minded people on cruises, his latest sailing to the Baltic Sea next year, where he will guide passengers through the history of pop and rock from the 60s on.

"I have the good fortune of having a variety of things to do," he said. "I enjoy radio and do a few television appearances, and I love hosting the cruises. I keep very good health, I was a bit overweight there when I did breakfast radio.

"When you get up at 3am, and go home to bed it is hard to exercise, but I decided before I turned 70 I would lose 10 kilos and I did. I don't do much forceful exercise, but I go for walks, park my car a few blocks from where I am going, force myself to walk. Being healthy starts with being healthy in the head and I am happy in my head."

He certainly sounds happy during our interview, but there have been rough times during Johnny's lifetime and long career, the worst when he lost his son Craig to cancer three years ago.

"That was a rough period," Johnny said. "Craig had a great life, a useful life, he was a clever boy, we did a lot of things together. I am lucky in that regard to have had that."

Taking a year off to grieve after his son died, still did not slow Johnny down. During the grieving process he went to university and studied script writing.

"Grief and tragedy are part of living," he said. "I am not a victim to it, but I am subject to it. I have shed many tears but I have had to stay afloat to be there for my children and grandchildren. I have two beautiful daughters who have given me between them a bunch of delightful young people. It's fascinating to watch them grow. In more ways it is better to be a grandfather than it is to be a father. You learn some stuff along the way. I have a great relationship with my grandchildren, we are a tight-knit family."

Although he has no intentions of stopping work or even slowing down, Johnny says he is not silly enough to overdo it.

"I'm not crazy, I make myself rest" he said. "I go on these cruises each year (as host), and I hang out with the folks. We eat together, we are all in it together. I do it every year. This is my third year in a row. The first year we went to Graceland, took a Mississippi steamer. We take listeners to my radio program but we invite anybody who wants to come along. Last year we went on the Queen Mary from Liverpool to New York, took the Queen Mary to Southampton, did the Beatles' story."

It might be a cliché to say, 'if you don't use it, you lose it' but it is a cliché Johnny Young is happy to live by.

"You can apply that to everything, your body and your brain, keep it active read interesting things, don't get caught up in the rubbish, see things that interest you, don't let your brain go to sleep on you. All those things apply to me, that's how I keep going. Let's inspire each other. Being a mate to your mate is one way, inspire your friends to do good and healthy things."

Then almost as an after-thought, Johnny says: "Do some bird watching".

Your local travel agent will give you full details if you want to join Johnny Young on his Baltic cruise.

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