The future AC/DC star was around 12 years old and his family didn’t own a record player in their northern English home, so he struggled to discover music that meant anything to him. He’d only heard “Tutti Frutti” for the first time two days before.
At the same time, the music output on British TV services in the ’50s “wasn’t very good,” Johnson tells BBC Radio 6’s The First Time With…. He thought: “Is that it? I’d rather go to church!” Everything changed during one of the BBC’s regular interludes between kids’ shows and farming bulletins.
“One day this woman with a lovely plummy accent said, ‘And now, from America, for the interlude, we have a lovely young man with his new pop song, and it’s called ‘Tutti Frutti,’” Johnson remembered. “I saw this handsome young black man with a beautiful jacket on. … I’m sure he had eyeliner on but I didn’t care, and his hair was immaculate. I sat there with my jaw hanging to the floor. It finished and I wanted more!”
Not long after, Johnson was walking near his home when he “heard it coming out of a window – and I can’t believe what I did. I knocked on the door and this girl came and said, ‘Who are you?’ I said, ‘I’m Brian, I just live round the corner. Could you put that on again please?’ And she said, ‘Well, you’ve got some nerve, but okay. Stand over there under the window.’”
Although the girl was probably around 18, Johnson admitted that she seemed very old to a boy of his age. She taught him to hand-jive while the track was playing, “and it was just brilliant,” he continued. “I said, ‘Thank you!’ She said, ‘My name’s Annette,’ and I said, ‘Thanks, Annette.’ … I’ll never forget her.”
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