John Fred Gourrier (May 8, 1941 - April 14, 2005), known by the stage name John Fred, was a blue-eyed soul, swamp pop, R&R and R&B performer from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, best known for the song, "Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)".
His group, John Fred and the Playboys, was formed in 1956 when Fred was 15; their first hit single was in March, 1959's "Shirley". He appeared on Alan Freed's show, but when Dick Clark asked him to sing on American Bandstand, Fred had to turn him down because he had to play in a basketball game. Fred played basketball and baseball at Louisiana State University and Southeastern Louisiana University.
By 1967, the band was renamed John Fred & His Playboy Band (to avoid confusion with Gary Lewis & The Playboys) and Fred and band member Andrew Bernard co-wrote "Judy in Disguise", whose name is a parodic play on the title of The Beatles' song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds". The song, issued by Louisiana-based Jewel Records on the Paula label, became successful, knocking another Beatles song ("Hello, Goodbye") out of the #1 chart position on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks in January 1968. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. With the success of the single, John Fred & His Playboy Band was branded as a novelty act and never had another major success. The follow-up single, "Hey, Hey, Bunny" peaked at #57 on the Billboard chart and the band never again hit the Hot 100. Only after years of struggles did Fred obtain full legal rights to "Judy in Disguise" and its royalties.
Later life and death:
Fred continued to perform in bands, coached high school basketball and baseball, remained a fixture at concerts and shows in his hometown, and hosted a popular local radio show, The Roots of Rock 'n' Roll. In 2002, he released his final album, Somebody's Knockin.
In 2004, Fred's health began to fail and after receiving a kidney transplant, complications ensued which culminated in a long hospital stay in New Orleans until his death in 2005. On April 14, 2005, Fred died at the age of 63, survived by his wife, Sandra, and a son.
In April 2007, Fred was inducted into The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. He has been inducted into the Delta Music Museum in Ferriday, Louisiana.
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