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Clinton Ford

Clinton Ford was a singer of romantic ballads and country & western-style novelties who enjoyed a few hit singles in the late '50s and early '60s. His biggest hit was with the song "Fanlight Fanny" in 1962. He was born Ian George Stopford Harrison in Salford, Manchester, on November 4, 1931. His first professional outing was as the leader of a group called the Backwards Skiffle Group, although he admitted the music wasn't really skiffle but cashed in on the biggest craze at the time. After a stint working as a Butlins Redcoat entertainer, he returned to his family home town of Liverpool to try his luck as a solo singer, appearing at the recently opened Cavern Club. He was signed to Oriole Records, and after several false starts -- a fellow Redcoat, Russ Hamilton, had recorded a big hit with "We Will Make Love," and Ford had wanted to record the Marty Robbins hit "The Story of My Life," but was beaten to it in the U.K. by the Columbia artist Michael Holliday -- he formed another skiffle band, the Hallelujah Skiffle Group. However, skiffle was already on its way out of fashion and success was not forthcoming for the band. Finally, Ford had his first taste of chart success late in 1959 with a cover of the Red Foley-composed song "Old Shep," albeit for just one week. Nevertheless, Ford had the only version of this famous song ever to chart in the U.K.

Not able to give up on chasing the fads of the time, his next chart entry was "Too Many Beautiful Girls" in a trad jazz style, and for his biggest hit he looked back to the music hall days of George Formby, who had recorded "Fanlight Fanny" in 1935. This led to an eponymous album that hit number 16 in 1962. After touring for a while with Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen, he returned for a stint at Liverpool's Cavern Club to find that the market for trad jazz and country & western-style novelties had been replaced by the sounds of a certain local band called the Beatles. He signed to Columbia Records, but his career was effectively over and just one more hit followed five years later in 1967, a country song, "Run to the Door" on the Piccadilly label, a subsidiary of Pye Records. Although he continued to record and release albums and singles, none of them were remotely commercially successful and he continued appearing in pantomimes and small revival concerts, ultimately retiring to the Isle of Man, where, as of 2008, he still lives. ~ Sharon Mawer
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