When someone who is or was a celebrity has or had bipolar disorder I take a special interest in their life-narrative. Having had to deal with this mental health issue for seven decades now, I find the many manifestations of it in people’s lives make a heuristic comparison and contrast with my own experience. So it was when Johnny O’Keefe: The Wild One was televised on ABC11 I took note.-Ron Price with thanks to ABC1, 12:20-1:30 a.m. on 25/7/’11 and also televised at other times in the last several years here in Tasmania Australia.
You went to the USA in October ‘59
the same month and year I became
a Baha’i. I knew nothing of you back
then, nor very little even after your
24 hits and all your work leading to
the establishment of the Australian
recording industry. All those nervous
breakdowns as they called your BPD1
episodes awakened my interest. You
were in a psych-ward in August 1962
in Sydney as I started pioneering for
the Canadian Baha’i community. What
a long story, Johnny: thank God I found
lithium and did not get into drugs & OH
or I might have also had an early demise.
1 BPD=bipolar disorder was the name given to manic depression in 1980 after O’Keefe died(1978). Biographies of O’Keefe: The Wild One: The Life and Times of Johnny O’Keefe, Damian Johnstone, 2001; and The Official Johnny O’Keefe Story, John Bryden-Brown, 1982, as well as the mini-series The Johnny O’Keefe Story in 1986 all gave publicity to both O’Keefe and his BPD.
25 July 2011