JOHN FRED and his PLAYBOY BAND
- JOHN FRED vocals
- ANDREW BERNARD bari-sax
- RONNIE GOODSON trumpet
- CHARLIE SPINOSA trumpet
- JIMMY O' ROURKE guitar
- HAROLD COWART bass
- TOMMY DEGENERES organ
- JOE MICELI percussion
- HAL ELLIS guitar
- BILLY JOHNSON bass
- LESTER DODGE drums
Not really accurate (or fair) to include Fred and his boys in a list of bubblegum groups as Judy In Disguise (and the wholly different Silly Sarah Carter!) was their only bubblegum song. It was written by Louisiana native John Fred (born John Fred Gourrier) after mishearing Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds by The Beatles. He thought "disguise" was more clever than "sky" and he was equally inspired by a Playtex living bra commercial (the inspired "Cross your heart, with your living bra" lyric, no doubt). The band didn't want to do a bubblegum song and they didn't care for the ending ("I guess I'll just take your glasses") of what ended up being their only hit song. So, why do I do crazy things like include this R&B group in a bubblegum site? 'Cause you gotta check 'em out man!
D I S C O G R A P H Y
JOHN FRED AND HIS PLAYBOYS (Paula LPS-2191) 1966
34.40 OF JOHN FRED AND HIS PLAYBOYS (Paula LPS-2193) 1967
AGNES ENGLISH (Paula Records LPS-2197) 1967
Side 1: Up And Down, Judy In Disguise, Off The Wall, Out Of Left Field, She Shot A Hole In My Soul, Most Unlikely To Succeed
Side 2: Agnes English, When The Lights Go Out, No Good To Cry, Sometimes You Just Can't Win, Sad Story, AcHenall Riot
JUDY IN DISGUISE (Paula LPS-2197) 1967 (Reissue of AGNES ENGLISH)
PERMANENTLY STATED (Paula LPS-2201) 1969
1. We Played Games
2. Surprise Surprise
3. What Is Happiness
4. Lonely Are The Lonely
5. Mary Jane
6. Tissue Paper
7. Hey Hey Bunny
8. Who Could Love You (More Than I)
9. Little Dum Dum
10. Before The Change
11. Permanently Stated
LOVE MY SOUL (Universal City Records 73077) 1970
Side 1: The Big Show, He Was My Friend, Where Will You Be?, Three Deep In A Feeling, Sweet Soul Music, Can't Be So Bad, Back In The U.S.S.R.
Side 2: Where's Everybody Going, Open Doors, Candy's Candy Kisses, Love My Soul, Leo Our Hero, Sadie Trout
Down In New Orleans/I Love You (Montel 904, 1959)
Shirley/My Love For You (Montel 1002, 1959)
Good Lovin'/You Know You Made Me Cry (Montel 1007, 1961)
Mirror Mirror (On The Wall)/To Have And To Hold (Montel 2000, 1962)
The Fool/There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight (Jewel 730, 1964)
There Goes That Train/Dial 101 (Cause I Still Love You) (Jewel 730, 1964) same catalog number?
Lenne/You're Mad At Me (Jewel 736, 1964)
Boogie Children/My First Love (Jewel 737, 1964) as "The Playboys"
Boogie Children/My First Love (Joy 1005, 1965)
Wrong To Me/How Can I Prove (Jewel 743, 1965)
Fortune Teller/Making Love To You (Paula 225, 1965)
Can't I Get A Word In/Sun City (Paula 234, 1966)
Doin' The Best I Can/Leave Her Never (Paula 244, 1966)
Outta My Head/Love Comes In Time (Paula 247, 1966)
Up And Down/Wind-Up Doll (Paula 259, 1967)
Agnes English/Sad Story (Paula 273, 1967)
Judy In Disguise (With Glasses)/When The Lights Go Out (Paula 282, 1967) Also as White, Yellow & Pink labels
Hey Hey Bunny/No Letter Today (Paula 294, 1968)
Lonely Are The Lonely/We Played Games (Paula 303, 1968)
Tissue Paper/Little Dum Dum (Paula 310, 1968)
What Is Happiness/Sometimes You Just Can't Win (Paula 315, 1968)
Back In The U.S.S.R./Silly Sarah Carter (Uni 55135, 1969)
Open Doors/Three Deep In A Feeling (Uni 55160, 1969)
Love My Soul/Julia Julia (Uni 55187, 1969)
Come With Me/Where's Everybody Going (Uni 55220, 1970)
I'm In Love Again/In The Mood (Bell 382, 1973) as "John Fred and the Creepers"
Keep It Hid/You Had To Be A Woman (Sugarcane 1001, 1975)
Jukebox Shirley/Hey, Good Lookin' (Sugarcane 1002, 1975)
When I Meet My Girl
LET'S MAKE A TRADE!
ANY OF THESE JOHN FRED CLASSICS I DON'T HAVE
FOR ANY FLAVOR OF GUM!
Here's what I still need:
I Love You
I'm In Love Again
In The Mood
My First Love
There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight
You Had To Be A Woman
E-Mail Andy today!
Sadly, John Fred passed away on April 15, 2005. I gleaned the following information from a number of on-line obituaries (thanks to Spencer Leigh and others):
John Fred Gourrier born Baton Rouge May 8, 1941; married (one son); died New Orleans April 15, 2005.
His father was a professional baseball player, but Gourrier needed little encouragement to play sport at Catholic High School. Growing to six foot five, he became increasingly skilled at basketball and he was awarded an athletic scholarship to a university in Louisiana.
Gourrier became interested in black rhythm and blues after hearing Fats Domino's "Goin' to the River". In 1956 he formed a band with his schoolfriends and at first they called themselves the Redcaps. They then became the Playboys, taking their name from their favourite reading matter, Playboy magazine.
In 1958 Sam Montalbano, who promoted dances in Baton Rouge, was so impressed that he booked time in Cosimo's studio in New Orleans. The band followed Fats Domino, who was recording "Whole Lotta Lovin' ", and some of Domino's band helped out on Gourrier's song "Shirley". The record became a regional hit but Montalbano had poor distribution and put a photograph of the band in a trade paper. When the disc-jockeys realised the band was not black but white, they stopped playing the record. Gourrier returned to his studies.
In 1959, the success of "Shirley" led John Fred to New York City to appear on rock 'n' roll pioneer Alan Freed's radio show.
Around 1964 he established a new group, John Fred and the Playboy Band. Their version of "Boogie Children" combined John Lee Hooker's "Boogie Chillen" with Frankie Lee Sims's "Walkin' with Frankie" and was a regional success, as was "Up and Down" and "Agnes English". The international breakthrough came with "Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)". The title was inspired by seeing girls in Fort Lauderdale sporting large sunglasses which disguised their features. As well as the obvious nod to the Beatles (for example, "lemonade pies" for "marshmallow skies"), the up-tempo dance number owed something to the bass line from "Rescue Me" by Fontella Bass. The record topped the US charts, ironically replacing the Beatles' "Hello Goodbye".
To date, the song has sold more than 5 million copies. After its success, John Fred decided to leave Paula Records and joined the likes of Elton John and Neil Diamond on the roster of Los Angeles-based Uni Records.
In 1969 Gourrier was introduced to Elvis Presley, who praised "Boogie Children". The Playboy Band made three albums but had no further hit singles, although, in 1982, "Shirley" was recorded by Shakin' Stevens and went into the UK Top Ten.
- In 1979, John Fred began producing records for other artists, including Irma Thomas' critically acclaimed comeback album, Safe With Me. He has also written, performed and produced jingles for such advertisers as Greyhound Bus Lines, Decker Hot Dogs and Ban Deodorant as well as the song "Baseball at the Box" for Louisiana State University's baseball team. He also coached basketball.