Frank Ifield Biography

30 November 1937, Coventry, Warwickshire, England. The most successful recording artist in the UK during the early 60s, Ifield is now also one of the most underrated. At the age of nine, his family emigrated to Australia, and Ifield entered showbusiness during his teens. He first came to prominence in Australia during 1957 with ‘Whiplash’, a song about the 1851 Australian goldrush that was later used as the theme for a long-running television series. After returning to England in the late 50s, Ifield was signed to the EMI Records subsidiary Columbia Records and soon found success working with producer Norrie Paramor. After scoring minor hits with ‘Lucky Devil’ and ‘Gotta Get A Date’, he broke through spectacularly with the chart-topping ‘I Remember You’. The song had a wonderfully elegiac feel, complemented by Ifield’s relaxed vocal and a pleasing harmonica break. The track dominated the UK chart listings, staying at number 1 for a staggering seven weeks and was the first record ever to sell a million copies in England alone. The song also charted in America, a rare feat for a British-based singer in the early 60s. Late in 1962, Ifield was back at the top of the UK charts for a further five weeks with ‘Lovesick Blues’, which betrayed his love of C&W and emphasized his extraordinary ability as a yodeller. His engaging falsetto became something of a trademark, which differentiated him from other UK vocalists of the period.

A revival of Gogi Grant’s ‘The Wayward Wind’ put Ifield into the record books. No artist in British pop history had previously logged three consecutive number 1 records, but during February 1963 Ifield achieved that honour. Ironically, he shared the number 1 spot jointly with the Beatles’ ‘Please Please Me’, and it was their abrupt rise that year which tolled the death knell for Ifield as a regular chart contender. After stalling at number 4 with ‘Nobody’s Darlin’ But Mine’ Ifield experienced his fourth UK chart-topper with the breezy ‘Confessin’’. His version of the perennial ‘Mule Train’ added little to the Frankie Laine version and Ifield’s last Top 10 hit in the UK was almost an apology for his previous release; the beautifully arranged ‘Don’t Blame Me’. Thereafter, the material chosen for him seemed weaker and his chart career atrophied. He became the most celebrated victim of the beat boom that was sweeping the UK and never regained the seemingly unassailable position that he enjoyed in the early 60s. He continued his career, playing regularly in pantomime and in stage productions like Up Jumped A Swagman, before reverting to cabaret work. During the 80s Ifield concentrated singing his beloved country music, performing regularly in Australia and the USA. In the 90s following lengthy bouts of ill health, Ifield was residing in Australia, and in 1996 following further illness (an abscess on the lung) his singing was permanently impaired. He now works as a country music radio presenter.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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