John Paul Young says without Vanda and Young he’d have no career

John Paul Young says without songwriters Harry Vanda and George Young he wouldn’t have had a career.

“They wrote every hit I’ve had basically, except for one in the early eighties, I was very much a part of them, and they were very much a part of me.” Young told OUTinPerth.

In March the singer behind Love is in the Air, I Hate the Music, Yesterday’s Hero and Standing in the Rain will return to The Astor Theatre to play the Vanda and Young songbook. While all of JPY’s massive hits were written by Vanda and Young, they have a string of well known songs recorded by many Australian singers.

Young said it was a fluke that he came to collaborate with the creative team.

“They were living in England and were sending material back to Australia, one of the songs they sent back was called Pasadena. I became the one to record Pasadena, and I recorded over their demo version. When they came back to Australia a few years later they looked me up because they had a lot more material and that’s how the association started.”

The opportunity to sing not only the songs that the duo wrote for him, but also all their other hit songs was something that had huge appeal for Young.

“I’ve always been a big fan of the Evie trilogy, anything that AC/DC put out, of course the Flash in the Pan hits, some of the Easybeats stuff, it’s right up my alley – I love it.”

“They had hits in the sixties, hits with me in the seventies, and they had hits with themselves with eighties, and produced things like The Angels, Rose Tattoo and The Choirboys, they were entrenched in pop music.” Young said.

One of Vanda and Young’s most successful songs internationally was one that John Paul Young recorded, the romantic disco smash Love is in the Air. A hit in the seventies it got a second lease of life with the nineties movie Strictly Ballroom, and most recently became the theme to announcement of the Yes! Result in the postal vote.

John Paul Young was in Sydney’s Centennial Park to sing the song in front of a massive crowd when the announcement came down.

“It was fantastic. It was great to be a part of it.” John Paul Young said of the moment that’s sure to be played as a pivotal moment of Australian history for years to come.

Young said in the rapture of the result he had to stay really focussed to make sure he came in singing at the right moment. “If you miss one bar, it can sound very ordinary indeed, but all around me there was great stories.”

Hearing about the life of long term activist Peter de Waal, whose partner of fifty years died just a few months before the results came through, was something Young said he found particular poignant, describing it as an honour to share a stage with the people who had fought so long for change.

The singer himself is a big part of Australia’s cultural history, as a regular presenter on the ABC’s Countdown program Young was in lounge rooms across Australia every Sunday night. He said he’s only recently began appreciate the importance of the show across the nation.

“It’s probably only in the last few years that I’ve come to appreciate how much my career is entwined in the Australian pop culture of the seventies.

“It was such a big thing, because Countdown on the ABC which was the only national broadcaster, and it’s made me someone you recognise even if you’re from Oonagalabi or Upper Cumbuckta West!”

John Paul Young and the Allstar Band will perform the Vanda & Young Songbook at The Astor Theatre on 23rd March. Tickets available from

Graeme Watson