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Frankie Ford    

New Orleans R&B Musician; "Sea Cruise"

A rocker from a suburb of New Orleans, Frankie Ford is a second cousin Dr. John. His first major appearance was on Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour Talent Show, where he sang with Carmen Miranda and Sophie Tucker. By 1958 he was singing with the Syncopators, when he was asked to audition for Ace Records. Subsequently, he released his first single, "Cheatin' Woman," as Frankie Ford.

Fellow musician Huey "Piano" Smith had previously recorded with his group the Clowns a self-penned song called "Sea Cruise," but Ace persuaded him to let Ford record a new vocal over Bobby Marcham’s original. They also added a few extra effects such as paddle-steamer whistle blows, which altered the song enough for Ford to claim a co-writing credit. Released under the title Frankie Ford with Huey "Piano" Smith and his Clowns, it sold over a million copies and docked in the national top 20.

Both "Sea Cruise" and its follow-up, "Alimony," were taken from original tapes recorded by composer Huey Smith with the Clowns; the lead vocals were then erased and Ford’s singing superimposed. As Morgus And The Ghouls, Ford and the Clowns also recorded "Morgus The Magnificent," a novelty tribute to a local television personality.

There was also an unissued homage to Fats Domino, written and recorded by Ford and Dave Bartholomew. Ford left Ace in 1960 to form his own Spinet Records and signed to Liberty Records in 1960, but never repeated the success of "Sea Cruise." He also formed a supergroup with Huey Smith, Robert Parker (hitmaker of "Barefootin'") and Dr. John (under various pseudonyms due to contractual problems), and they recorded various New Orleans favourites.

In 1971, he opened a club in New Orleans’ French Quarter where he became a cabaret fixture and tourist attraction. Moreover, he still looked youthful enough to play his younger self in the 1977 movie "American Hot Wax," set in the late '50s. As part of a package, he toured the UK in 1985 along with Rick Nelson, Bobby Vee and Bo Diddley. Ford resents the term one-hit-wonder, and rightly pointed out that his four recordings of "Sea Cruise" have now sold over 30 million copies worldwide.

On May 16, 2010, at the Louisiana Music Homecoming in Erwinville, Ford was inducted into The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.

News


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