John Fred

Writer and singer of 'Judy in Disguise'

During the psychedelic era, John Fred and the Playboy Band climbed to No 3 on the UK charts with "Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)" but no one was sure whether this oddball record was an example of psychedelia or a satiric comment. In truth, the lead singer and songwriter, John Fred Gourrier, loved the Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and had just written a pastiche. Ten years later the Rutles would take the same approach with the Beatles' catalogue.

John Fred Gourrier, singer and songwriter: born Baton Rouge 8 May 1941; married (one son); died New Orleans 15 April 2005.

During the psychedelic era, John Fred and the Playboy Band climbed to No 3 on the UK charts with "Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)" but no one was sure whether this oddball record was an example of psychedelia or a satiric comment. In truth, the lead singer and songwriter, John Fred Gourrier, loved the Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and had just written a pastiche. Ten years later the Rutles would take the same approach with the Beatles' catalogue.

John Fred Gourrier was born into a cajun family in Baton Rouge in May 1941. 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.

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".

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 subsequent years Gourrier played casinos, produced Irma Thomas, presented local radio and coached basketball.

Spencer Leigh



News
Alex Salmond said he accepted 'the democratic verdict of the people'
newsSNP leader says Scotland must move forward as 'one nation'
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery Assistant Plymouth

£10000 - £20000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week