The brightest new star in 1962 was English-born Australian easy listening and country singer Frank Ifield. He was famous for incorporating yodelling into his songs, and was the last pre-Beatles chart sensation, scoring four number 1s in 62 and 63, and becoming the first UK-based performer to score three number 1s in a row. His first chart-topper, I Remember You, was also 62’s biggest-selling single, in a year of huge-sellers. By the middle of the decade he had already been largely forgotten.
Ifield was born on 30 November 1937 in Coundon, Warwickshire. His parents were Australian, and his father had created the Ifield pump, a device used in fuel systems for jet aircraft. In the mid-1940s they emigrated to rural Dural (now there’s a rhyme), near Sydney. Young Frank became a fan of country music, in particular Hank Snow, who was nicknamed the Yodelling Ranger. In his teens he decided to drop out of school to concentrate on a full-time singing career, and he quickly became popular through radio appearances. He signed to EMI Australia in 1953 and had a few hits, and then progressed to presenting his own television show, Campfire Favourites. With Australia sort-of conquered, he returned to the UK in 1959, and hit the top 30 the following year with Lucky Star (not the Madonna song).
Ifield released more singles, but Lucky Star was beginning to look like a one-off success, until I Remember You became massive. It dated back to 1941, with music by victor Shertzinger and lyrics by Johnny Mercer, who had written 1961’s Christmas number 1 Moon River. The original singer was Dorothy Lamour in the 1942 musical The Fleet’s In, which Schertzinger directed. The lyrics apparently spoke of Mercer’s love for Judy Garland, and he gave it to her the day after she married David Rose, which adds a bittersweet edge to the happy-go-lucky Ifield version.
So why did Ifield become so successful? I’m afraid this is another one of those mysteries lost in the midst of time. Perhaps Brits just used to like a bit of yodelling. After all, Slim Whitman’s Rose Marie was both yodel-packed and enjoyed 11 weeks at the top in 1955. I Remember You is actually quite charming in an endearingly quaint way. Unlike Britain’s other superstar Cliff, who’s songs are often plain dull, Ifield relishes his chance to shine, and I’m a sucker for a harmonica – as were the Fab Four – Lennon later claimed this song was the inspiration for including one on their early tracks. But if The Beatles hadn’t happened, is this really the direction music would have gone in?
Written by: Victor Scherzinger & Johnny Mercer
Producer: Norrie Paramor
Weeks at number 1: 7 (26 July-12 September) *BEST-SELLING SINGLE OF THE YEAR*
Journalist John Micklethwait – 11 August
Actress Sophie Aldred – 20 August
Actor Peter Wingfield – 5 September
Poet Richard Aldington – 27 July
6 August: Jamaica became independent on 6 August.
18 August: The Beatles played their first gig with the line-up that changed everything. Pete Best had been usurped and Ringo Starr was now behind the drums.
23 August: Lennon married Cynthia Powell at a register office in Mount Pleasant, Liverpool.
31 August: Trinidad and Tobago became independent.
1 September: Channel Television, the ITV franchise for the Channel Islands, go on air.
2 September: Glasgow’s trams ran for the last time, leaving Blackpool tramway the only one left in Britain.