Prior to that, in the late 1970s he was a bassist for the band Big in Japan. He was born in Liverpool.
In 1989, Johnson's debut solo album, Blast, reached number one in the UK albums chart. Two singles from the album, "Love Train" and "Americanos" reached the top five of the UK Singles Chart.
In the 1990s he embarked on a painting career.
He was ranked number 33 in the Pride Power List 2011. The citation said:
- "Uncompromisingly out from the start as the lead singer of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Liverpool’s favourite gay son is still a big draw at Pride events and still making music."
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- http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/tm/t-os/t-find/t-challenge-decision-results/o14007.pdf Trade mark decision O/140/07 UK Intellectual Property Office (PDF)