Frankie Ford, the singer best known for the 1959 hit “Sea Cruise,” died Monday at his home in Gretna, Louisiana, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported Tuesday. He was 76.
Ford had suffered from “a lengthy illness,” the newspaper stated.
Born Frank Guzzo in New Orleans in 1939, Ford showed talent early on, winning local contests and appearing on “The Ted Mack Amateur Hour” at age 12. His first single, consisting of the songs “Cheatin’ Woman” and “The Last One to Cry,” was released in 1958, but it was “Sea Cruise,” released the following year, that launched him into the spotlight, hitting No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Ford would have other, more modest hits, including a cover of Joe Jones’ “You Talk Too Much” and “Alimony,” and toured the country with artists including Chuck Berry and Frankie Avalon. However, after a stint in the Army, Ford’s style of music had fallen out of favor, with the public turning toward British Invasion fare. He later found steady work playing casinos, nightclubs and private functions in the 1990s.
Ford last performed publicly in 2013, at the Gretna Heritage Festival.
Funeral arrangements for Ford are pending.