BOY band One Direction may be experiencing Beatlemania on the other side of the Atlantic at the moment – but fellow X Factor contestant Bradley Johnson is also getting an enthusiastic reception as he tours the area’s schools.
The 17-year-old was a member of Nu Vibe, put together by X Factor judge Tulisa during last year’s show.
Now he has signed a solo contract with Hemel Hempstead-based label Ingeny Music, and since the youngster moved to the town earlier in the year he has been having an amazing time promoting himself and his debut single Boomerang, which is out on May 6.
One way to do connect with potential fans is to go and meet them where they least expect it – while they are at school.
Pupils in Hemel Hempstead are soon to experience Bradleymania when he adds local dates as part of a UK schools tour taking place between April 30 and June 15.
He has already been working hard at schools just over the border in Bedfordshire and if his dates before the Easter break are anything to go by, teachers and staff will have to prepare themselves for crowds of excited and even tearful teenagers.
Bradley said: “They go mad, some of them cry and some have even fainted.
“When I did Luton and Bedford I was chased off of the stage. I nearly fell over. I was taken into another room while the kids calmed down.”
Even though Bradley’s old group Nu Vibe was the first to be voted off by the public in the X Factor, he has continued to be at the centre of the affections of his fans – the female ones in particular.
He said: “My dad texted me the other day to let me know that one of my fans had sent a pair of knickers to me through the post!
“When they know I’m going to be at home in St Helens they will wait for hours outside my house and once I’m there they knock on the windows.
“When I’m in the bathroom I have to make sure the blinds are closed.
“I remember when I came home from the X Factor live competitions to a crowd of 50 girls waiting for me.
“They stood outside and sang my first audition song, The A Team by Ed Sheeran, most of the night.
“If I tweet I’m going somewhere a crowd of fans usually turns up.
“I had my hair cut at a salon called Millionaires in London a few weeks ago and I arrived late.
“The salon manager told me two girls had waited outside for four hours to catch a glimpse of me before giving up and going home.
“When I actually meet fans I don’t know what to do. I just give them a hug and ask them to follow me on Twitter but I don’t think it’s all me that makes people react.
“Music can touch people in different ways. It’s emotional so it could be a song that I’ve sung.
“I’ve had girls chase the car. It’s like being a Beatle.”
So far Bradley has recorded his debut single, is on the bill to perform at the Love Luton concert alongside The Wanted on July 6, attended the film premier of StreetDance 2 and has amassed more than 37,000 followers on Twitter.
But all this still does not mean he has ‘made it’ as only chart success and sales will tell.
Manager Damian Knowles has employed six different public relations companies to build up the hype on television, radio, web and print.
He said: “The schools tour is the build up. Bradley does a lot of nightclubs but he can’t forget his young fanbase that can’t go into over 18 establishments.”
Bradley said: “I also pick up more fans along the way. I met some new ones at a sixth form college, who saw my performance and liked me.”
The budding star wasn’t exactly a fan of school when he was there and was featured on X Factor, during the audition stage, after he told the production team that he had actually been expelled from three schools and was not academic.
He said: “I want to inspire young people to do well.
“I believe school’s not meant for everyone but the message I want to give out to my fans is you should persevere in what you want to do. I tried, and look where I’ve got to.”