Wednesday, September 30, 2015

R.I.P. Singer Frankie Ford Dies At Age 76

Frankie Ford
Frankie Ford, the flashy and flamboyant New Orleans rock and roll and rhythm and blues singer whose 1959 hit “Sea Cruise” made him an internationally-known performer with a career spanning more than 50 years, died Monday evening.

He was 76, according to WWL-TV4.

Despite battling health problems in recent years, Ford performed his well-known hit and others from his rhythm and blues repertoire at local and regional engagements, including the 2013 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, an event he played for more than 20 years.

Ford’s “Sea Cruise,” written by Huey “Piano” Smith and featuring his driving piano sound, reached number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1959. It sold more than one million copies, remaining on the charts for 17 weeks and earning Ford, then just 19, a gold record. Ford was chosen by Ace Records’ Johnny Vincent, over Smith and frontman Bobby Marchan, to sing lead vocals over the prerecorded backing track. "Huey (Smith) sat at the piano and sang parts and taught me the lyrics written on a sheet of loose-leaf paper from my high school binder. It now hangs in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland,” Ford told the Ponderosa Stomp Music Festival in an online article.

The song took on a life of its own and over the years was used in movies, TV shows and commercials nationwide. It even earned Ford a bit of Grammy recognition, when polka star Jimmy Sturr recorded "Sea Cruise," with a guest appearance by Ford on Sturr’s "Shake, Rattle and Polka!" CD, which won the 2006 Grammy for best polka album.

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