12 November 2010

TGIF Rock-n-Roll Oldies: John Fred and his Playboy Band 1967

John Fred (b. John Fred Gourrier, 1941- 2005) was a 'blue-eyed soul' and Cajun pop artist out of Baton Rouge, La. and best known for the #1 hit song in the US Judy in Disguise (With Glasses).

John Fred and the Playboys formed back in 1956 and enjoyed success with '58's Shirley. He appeared on Alan Freed's show, but when Dick Clark asked him to sing on American Bandstand, Fred had to turn him down because he had to play in a basketball game (management/promotion aparently not his strong suit!).

Almost a decade later, Fred and band member Andrew Bernard co-wrote Judy in Disguise, whose name is a parodic play on the title of The Beatles' song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds". The song -issued by small Louisiana-based Jewel Records on the even more obscure 'Paula' label was in-the-event hugely successful, ironically knocking another Beatles song -Hello, Goodbye- out of the #1 chart position on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks in January 1968. This smash single sold over one million copies.

Although John Fred actually had a well-rehearsed and talented group honed by years on the road, now known as John Fred and his Playboy Band, he was branded as a novelty act -and unfortunately never enjoyed another chart success. And getting paid was another thing: only after years of struggles did Fred obtain full legal rights to Judy in Disguise and the attendant royalties... 

Previous RR Rock n Roll Oldies features -here-