Johnny Remember Me

Album: The Best of John Leyton (1961)
Charted: 1

Songfacts®:

  • This song depicts a man haunted by his dead love imploring him to join her. The ghostly female backup vocals were by a session singer named Lissa Gray.
  • The song originally appeared in the TV drama Harpers West One, in which John Leyton was playing Johnny St Cry, a Pop singer opening a record department.
  • This was produced by legendary producer Joe Meek, who's known for his work on the song "Telstar." It was his first UK #1. Vic Flick, who played guitar on the recording, told us: "Joe Meek was an innovative producer whose ideas were used throughout the industry. My recollections of Joe are his very laid back approach to the actual recording and, in contrast, his near manic demands of himself in the mixing and FX he used. He had tunnel vision with getting 'his sounds' as he wanted them, so everything else was a distraction. His studio can best be described as a total mess. Tape spools, lengths of tape, old boxes, tattered posters, sandwich wrappers, all littered the studio floor in contrast to the couple of tape recorders that were in pristine condition. These were Joe's musical instruments. I have the fond memory of Joe walking from his control room into the studio, basically two adjacent bedrooms. leaning on the old upright piano and saying, 'Go on then,' to start the take. A good man with a few personal problems." (Here's our full interview with Vic Flick.)
  • John Leyton had several other hits in the UK including this song's follow up "Wild Wind," which peaked at #2. He went on to have a successful career as an actor starring in a number of big budget films including The Great Escape.
  • This song was written by Geoff Goddard, at the last minute, as it was decided that John Leyton needed a song to perform in the program. It was only Goddard's second recorded composition - he went on to pen many compositions for Meek's acts.
  • This was originally a death disc but Goddard amended a lyric from "The girl I loved died a year ago" to "The girl I loved and lost a year ago." In the book 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh, Goddard recalls, "It came to me off the top of my head in 10 minutes. Johnny Remember Me created an image of Johnny Leyton, that of a young man who'd lost his true love and was going down the road of life on his own, looking for another girl to fall in love with."

    John Leyton recalls, "Joe Meek was the first independent producer and when I recorded Johnny Remember Me, the string section was up the stairs, the backing vocalists were in the bathroom, I was in the sitting room and Joe was in the kitchen. It was a great song, very well-written and Geoff Goddard deserves as much credit as Joe Meek."

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