Reese Francis Clifford III, better known as Buzz Clifford, scored just one hit single with "Baby Sittin' Boogie." The release from Columbia Records made it into the Top Ten in 1961 and sold more than a million copies. On the strength of that single, the record company began efforts to turn Clifford into a teen heartthrob. He sang a handful of times on American Bandstand. Along with Freddy Cannon and Dion, he embarked on a British tour and also made appearances on television shows hosted by Perry Como and Merv Griffin. The following year, however, it was clear that all the plans and grooming were leading nowhere, and Clifford stepped out of the spotlight.
Clifford served in the National Guard and after his hitch was over, he settled in Los Angeles and started writing songs for 20th Century Records, Cameo, and White Whale. Keith Barbour did relatively well with the Clifford-penned "Echo Park." His songs were also recorded by artists such as Petula Clark, Clyde McPhatter, and Lou Rawls. As part of a band called Carp in the late '60s, he put out an album. The band included Danny Moore, who penned the classic "My Maria," and actor Gary Busey. Around the same time, Clifford joined forces with David Marks, an ex-Beach Boy, and they settled in Tulsa, OK, to begin recording. None of the compositions ever saw the light of day, but Leon Russell and Kris Kristofferson each recorded a Clifford-penned song.
The team of Marks and Clifford continued to write and perform live in California. They joined forces with Moore during the '90s and produced the album Work Tapes. Marks, Clifford, and his two offspring founded a band to play blues in Los Angeles nightspots in the mid-'90s. When the group fell apart in 1997, Clifford flew off to Denmark to make Norse Horse, while Marks put in some more time with the Beach Boys. An altered version of one of Clifford's early Dot Records releases, "I See, I Am," found a place on Beck's Midnite Vultures CD under the title "Milk and Honey." Released late in 1999, the single went gold early in 2000.
The Illinois native took up the guitar during his childhood and by his teens, he was triumphing in talent competitions. Under Clifford's first contract with Bow Records when he was 15 years old, he put out a couple of songs that went nowhere. He then inked the deal with Columbia Records and recorded "Hello Mr. Moonlight," which didn't even make a dent on the charts. "Baby Sittin'Boggie" made up for the disappointment when it performed well on R&B, country, and pop charts. ~ Linda Seida