Tuesday, April 23, 2013

John Fred & His Playboy Band--Judy in Disguise (With Glasses) (1967)

     A few days ago we looked at Louisiana's LeRoux (http://www.rockandrollomnibus.blogspot.com/2013/04/sunday-morning-vault-louisianas-leroux.html), a band out of Baton Rouge. One could debate this, but they might not have been the most successful band from that city. Let's consider John Fred & His Playboy Band.
     John Fred Gourrier came from a sports family. His father Fred played baseball for the Detroit Tigers organization from 1931-1935 and John Fred seemingly inherited his father's athleticism, playing college baseball and basketball for Louisiana State University, and Southeastern Louisiana University. His other love however was music, and by the time he was 15 had put together a band. John Fred & the Playboys played around the Baton Rouge area and even cut a record in 1958, with Fats Domino's band. "Shirley" reached #82 on the Hot 100 and gave the now 17 year old a taste of success early.

     During the early 60's, he kept the group going while attending college, but after 1963 put his full time effort into the band. His blue-eyed soul style was a huge hit in the Southern Louisiana area, but several singles recorded went nowhere. After six tries, they recorded, "Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)" which was written as a parody of The Beatles, "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds". It was put out on the small Paula label, and soon it caught fire soaring to #1 that year.
    The flip side to this success however, was the band was perceived as a novelty band, and as they attempted to capitalize on the million selling single by continuing to play their mix of blue eyed soul, R&B, and Swamp Pop, they quickly went back to relative obscurity. Their follow up, "Hey, Hey, Bunny" went to #57 on the charts, which was the last time they would seen there again.
     The song would continue a life of it's own in the eternity that is oldies radio, but folks in the south delta can still remember songs like, "When the Lights Go Out" from the 1968 album, "Agnes English"
       The band continued in various forms until 1976 when John Fred called in a career and became a record producer, coached high school basketball and baseball, and would play in the occasional concert. He was also known for a successful radio show, "The Roots of Rock and Roll".  He passed away from complications after a kidney transplant in 2005 at the age of 63.


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