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Thursday, 16 October 2014

Emile Ford born 16 October 1937

 

Emile Ford (born Emile Sweetman, 16 October 1937, Castries, Saint Lucia, West Indies is a musician and singer, who was popular in the United Kingdom in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
 
Ford was the son of a government official and an opera-singing mother. When Emile arrived in Britain from Nassau in the Bahamas, where he grew up, his main ambition was to become an engineer, and it was through engineering that he would gain a brief but very successful career in Pop music.
 
He was educated at the Paddington Technical College in London. It was during this time that Ford taught himself to play a number of musical instruments. These included the guitar, piano, violin, bass guitar and drums. His innate interest in music was fostered by his mother and perhaps derived in part in his synesthesia: he perceived sound as colours and patterns.
 
He had invented a novel sound system that he claimed gave his music a consistently high quality despite the fact that he wasn't really a singer. Emile would insist on using his own equipment for performances rather than that usually offered by the theatres in which he played. Despite the fact that Emile claims that his success was largely because of his sound equipment, there is no doubt that he is also an extremely skilled and versatile musician.  
 
Ford first entered show business at the age of twenty, and made his first public appearance at The Buttery, Kensington. This was immediately followed by appearances at (on a rota basis) The Breadbasket, Fitzroy Square; The Roebuck, corner of Tottenham Court Road and Warren Street tube station; The Macabre, Soho; and Chiquita’s, near Regent Street (then the Show Business Agents coffee bar). Ford's first appearance with a backing group was at the Athenaeum Ballroom in Muswell Hill.
 
 
 
 
After winning the Soho Fair talent contest in July 1959 sponsored by the Pye record company, Emile and his group were given a chance to record. His group, the Checkmates, consisted of his two step-brothers George and Dave, Ken Street, Pete Carter, Les Hart, Alan Hawkshaw, and John Cuffley. They made a version of 'What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For' which was originally destined to be a 'B' side. Fortunately, Pye were shrewd enough to issue this as the 'A' side and the disc took Emile all the way to a UK #1 at the end of 1959 and stayed there for six weeks. The track remains as having the longest question ever asked by a chart topping disc in the UK. Ford was also the first black British artist to sell one million copies of a 7" single.
 
 
His TV appearances in 1958 included outings on The Music Shop, the Pearl Carr & Teddy Johnson Show, Oh, Boy!, and Six-Five Special. In 1959 the band appeared on the TV programme Sunday Serenade, which ran for six weeks. (Photo of Emile with Pete Best and Paul McCartney)
 
 
In January 1960, Ford signed a two year employment management contract with Leslie Grade. Emile managed to squeeze a few more hits from his patented sound system before having to return to engineering. He married his first wife in Blackpool in 1965, although she divorced him three years later.
 
He faded from the scene somewhat during the latter part of the sixties because he made his home in Scandinavia. However he continued marketing his sound system in the UK and used it in the production of other artists with which he became involved. He made several albums throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Most of his albums included new versions of "What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes at Me For?".
                 
In the early 60's and in the decades since, has worked exclusively behind the scenes, undertaking stage work from time to time as well as selling his own unique sound equipment (EF Quantum Sound) whenever the opportunity arises.
 
 
 
When last heard of, he was living in California after residing in Scandinavia for several years. (Info mainly edited from wikipedia & 45-rpm.org)
 

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