LS&S = Our “Lost Singers & Song” Department
1956: Remember this one?
Born 1935, Tulsa Oklahoma
“The Fool” by Sanford Clark
/ Dot 15481/ 8/11/56/ #7 Billboard
Sanford Clark was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma but was raised in Phoenix, Arizona. He first began performing in the Phoenix area in the early 1950s. He spent time in the Air Force in the South Pacific; he formed a band there which won a talent show in Hawaii.
Returning to Phoenix, he and his friend Al Casey met Lee Hazlewood, then a local disc jockey. Clark, with Casey on guitar, recorded one of Hazlewood’s songs, “The Fool“, on MCI Records in 1956.
Dot Records picked the song up for national distribution after a Philadelphia DJ tipped them off to it. The song became a hit in the U.S., peaking at #14 on the Country Singles chart, #5 on the Black Singles chart, and #7 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Following the song’s success, Clark opened on tour for Ray Price and Roy Orbison.
Clark’s 1957 follow-up single, “The Cheat“, gave him a second minor hit, peaking at #74 on the Pop charts. He and Dot Records‘ owner Randy Wood quarreled over the singer’s image, and he eventually signed to Jamie Records in 1958, working with Duane Eddy alongside Casey and Hazlewood.
Moving to Hollywood, he recorded for several other labels and had several almost-comebacks; his 1964 version of Hazlewood’s “Houston” was eclipsed by Dean Martin’s version, and in 1965 he re-recorded “The Fool” with Waylon Jennings on guitar.
Hazlewood, by now an established songwriter, signed Sanford Clark to his own label, LHI, on which Clark released Return of the Fool in 1969. A few years later Clark left the music business, working in construction, though he occasionally recorded in later decades on his own label, Desert Sun Records.
Video: The Fool – covered by Paul McCartney