Australian-born singer-songwriter Johnny Logan won Eurovision Song Contest in 1980, 1987 and 1992

Johnny Logan photo by Andreas Rentz
Australian-born singer-songwriter Johnny Logan, here performing in Germany in 2012, has won the Eurovision Song Contest three times. Photo: Andreas Rentz

I caught the Eurovision bug this year. Well done Guy Sebastian – I thought you were great. Here’s my story about another Australian who won it for Ireland three times.

May 21, 2015

The Age

Guy Sebastian may be Australia’s first official  entrant in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest but another Australian has already won it three times.

Irish singer Johnny Logan was born in Frankston while his tenor father Patrick O’Hagan toured here in the 1950s. Although he left our shores as a three-year-old, he was carrying an Australian passport when he struck gold for the Emerald Isle in 1980, 1987 and again in 1992 when he penned a song for Linda Martin, earning him the nickname “Mr Eurovision”.

“My dad always had a huge passion for Australia, a love for Australia,” Logan says, “and I’m probably most like him in the family and even vocally.”

Three-time Eurovision winner Johnny Logan is based in Germany and was born in Australia.
Three-time Eurovision winner Johnny Logan is based in Germany and was born in Australia. Photo: Andreas Rentz

Logan’s first Eurovision win (with What’s Another Year) made him a household name but that came at a price. “It’s not exactly the trendiest thing to win, from an artistic point of view and to build your career on,” he says over the phone from Germany, where the 61-year-old bases himself for a hectic schedule of European touring and recording. “A lot of radio stations even back in the 80s were very image-conscious and they didn’t like playing Eurovision winners. So your follow-up became a major problem.”

Logan solved that by writing smash hit Hold Me Now, which he performed and won with in 1987. Last year it was voted Best Eurovision Song Ever. “Eurovision will open doors and close doors a lot […] If you win it, you have to work your arse off and establish yourself as an artist through live work and through the following records you make over the years. It’s no guarantee of lifetime success.”

Logan’s last visit to Australia was three years ago, when he sang at his mother’s funeral (she is buried with his father in Broadbeach, on the Gold Coast, where the couple lived out their retirement); his younger brother and sister live in Surfers Paradise; and his three adult sons have dual Irish/Australian citizenship.

The closest he’s come to returning to his birth city, though, was a dinner date in Melbourne with Kevin “Bloody” Wilson, whom he befriended on a promotional tour. “We went out together for a Mongolian barbecue, which was very trendy back in ’88.”

Logan politely baulks at the idea of officially representing Australia at future contests but is happy to offer some advice for Sebastian. “Spend as much time on your own [as you can] and focus on your own performance. Don’t look at any other people or listen to any of the bullshit about who’s the favourite and where the votes are coming from and all that. Go there and enjoy it and make Australia proud of you.”

Read the story in the SMH here.