One of the “Grease” songwriters…

Farrar began playing guitar when he was twelve, and by sixteen had begun playing with local rock bands.

Shortly after Farrar joined The Strangers, they became the house band for the popular TV music program The Go!! Show. Both Farrar’s future wife, Pat Carroll, and Olivia Newton-John appeared on The Go Show as singers.

After returning from a tour with Newton-John, Carroll was obliged to return to Australia because her visa had expired, while Olivia (who was born in the UK) was able to stay on. Carroll dated and married Farrar. Following her marriage, Carroll ceased to pursue her headliner status and settled into occasionally reprising her duo work with Newton-John and back-up singing, mainly in session work for Farrar/Newton-John productions.

The newlyweds returned to England after Farrar was invited to become a member of Marvin, Welch & Farrar, a vocal-harmony group featuring two former members of The Shadows, Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch. Marvin, Welch & Farrar put out two albums, an eponymous album released in 1971 and Second Opinion which was released in 1972. A third album featured just Hank Marvin and Farrar. The Shadows reformed soon after this time in order to represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest, and John Farrar joined them as second lead guitarist and vocalist. Two years earlier Farrar had appeared on the same show as a backing guitarist and vocalist for Cliff Richard.

Farrar appeared on a number of Shadows albums in this period; “Rocking with Curly Leads”, “Specs Appeal” and “Live at the Paris Olympia” in particular owe much to his distinctive talent as arranger. Also during this time, Bruce Welch and Farrar began working on singles for Newton-John and found considerable success with her cover of Bob Dylan’s If Not For You. With Newton-John’s signing with MCA Records, Farrar began a prolific song writing and production career with the successful vocalist. His participation in Newton-John’s career produced a stream of gold and platinum hits. His discography reflects an artist with a wide range of styles, from You’re the One That I Want to Physical.

Farrar’s biggest successes with Newton-John as writer-producer came with the film version of the musical Grease in 1977 — after a chance meeting with producer Alan Carr at a Hollywood party hosted by her old friend Helen Reddy, Olivia was selected for the lead role of Sandy. During filming, the producers realised that the original score of the musical was too short to bring the film to regular feature length, and that several extra songs were needed, so Farrar wrote and submitted two original songs, “Hopelessly Devoted To You” and “You’re The One That I Want”. Both were accepted and incorporated into the movie and they proved to be two of the most successful songs on the soundtrack, with both tracks becoming major international hits when released as singles during 1978.

In the mid-1990s, Farrar collaborated with Newton-John and lyricist Tim Rice for the musical score of Cliff Richard’s musical Heathcliff based on the Emily Brontë novel Wuthering Heights.


John Farrar

CBS Records 1980

Tracks: Reckless, Tell Someone Who Cares, Can´t Hold Back, Gettin´Loose, Cheatin´His Heart Out Again, Recovery, It´ll Be Me Babe, Falling & From The Heart.

Musicians on the John Farrar album: John Farrar, Ed Green, David McDaniels, Michael Botts, Tom Snow, Mike Porcaro & Michael Boddicker.