Although Jason Donovan’s career began in his native Australia in 1980 at the tender age of 11, with an appearance on the show Skyways, it wasn’t until he took the role of Scott Robinson in the hit Australian soap opera Neighbours in 1986 that he really came to prominence. When the BBC started showing it in the afternoons it became appointment television for teenagers everywhere. He and Kylie Minogue, who played his girlfriend Charlene, quickly became fan favourites and so it was only a matter of time before a savvy pop producer came knocking.
Enter 80s chart supremos Stock Aiken and Waterman. Hot on the heels of Kylie’s chart success Jason soon found himself riding high in the charts with his debut single Nothing Can Divide Us. Released in 1988, it reached number three in the Irish charts.
Now a bona fide pop star he and Kylie decided to give the fans what they wanted in the form of a duet. It’s hard to believe now but Especially For You was originally rejected by Stock, Aiken and Waterman for being too commercial! However, when retail chain Woolworths ordered 250,000 copies of the record, they changed their minds.
The track became a massive hit and everything Kylie and Jason touched turned to gold. When they appeared on the cover of Smash Hits to promote it, the issue sold an astonishing one million copies. It reached number one in Ireland and the UK and cemented Jason’s popularity. It also marked a change of image for him as he abandoned his trademark mullet for an undercut.
His next release Too Many Broken Hearts became his first solo number one in Ireland and the UK. Ironically Jason had originally thought it would be an album track. Instead it’s become one of his most enduring hits and a line from it even spawned the title of his debut album Ten Good Reasons released in May 1989.
Throughout all this frenzy he was still working on Neighbours but in 1989 he finally gave up the day job to focus on music full time. His second album Between The Lines was released in 1990 and spawned five singles It was a busy year for him as he also embarked on The Doin’ Fine Tour – his first ever world tour. To the delight of Irish fans, the Dublin date was filmed and released on video.
His next musical move took some people by surprise. He had never completely abandoned acting and he married his music and thespian careers in 1991 when he was cast in the lead role in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in the London Palladium. He followed in the footsteps of other high profile pop stars who had played the titular role in the show such as Donny Osmond and David Cassidy. The signature song from the show Any Dream Will Do gave him yet another Irish and UK number one.
In the intervening years he has combined his stage work with his music and even a few reality TV stints – including an appearance on I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here in 2006 in which he place an impressive third! We’re looking forward to welcoming him to the stage of Forever Young festival on Saturday July 15th.
Jason Donovan plays the ‘Forever Young’ festival in Palmerstown House Estate on Saturday July 15th, 2023. ‘Forever Young’ is a three-day celebration of the music of the 1980s featuring artists such as Andy Bell (Erasure), Bananarama, Billy Ocean, Tony Hadley, ABC and many more.
Full line-up and tickets are available here