‘Relax’ was the first single by Liverpool band Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Initially it rose to just number six in the British charts.
The song was written by the band’s frontman, gay Liverpudlian, Holly Johnson, in 1982 whilst he was "walking very quickly along the central reservation of Princes Avenue in Toxteth" (Holly Johnson in Q Magazine). The initial advertising for the single’s release contained much innuendo, including a quarter-page advert of band member Paul Rutherford in a sailor’s cap under the slogan “All the nice boys like sea men” as well as “Frankie Goes to Hollywood are coming ... making Duran Duran lick the s--t off their shoes”. The 7” and 12” singles were described as, “Nineteen inches which must be taken always”.
Though the band denied it at the time many believed the lyrics of the song to be highly sexually suggestive, and the single’s artwork depicted semi-nude bodies and sado-masochism. The music video, filmed in The State nightclub, Liverpool, also showed homoerotic sado-masochistic scenes in an imagined bondage club. Radio One DJ Mike Read pulled the single halfway through playing and the BBC banned the record.
Almost immediately interest in the record catapulted it to number one and it is now considered to be a gay anthem. Years later the band finally admitted, “It was all about shagging”. (Welcome to the Pleasuredome album liner notes, 1985)