Frank Ifield, ‘I Remember You’ singer who had The Beatles as supporting act, dead at 86

Frank Ifield

Frank Ifield, an Australian singer who had four No. 1 hits in the United Kingdom including “I Remember You,” and had The Beatles as a supporting act before they became famous, died Saturday. He was 86.

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Ifield died in Sydney, Australia, Bob Howe, the country singer’s former musical director, confirmed to the BBC.

The country singer, known for yodeling in his songs, recorded 25 albums and was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2009, according to the news outlet.

Ifield scored three consecutive No. 1 hits during late 1962 and early 1963, becoming the first British artist to achieve the feat, The Telegraph reported.

“I Remember You,” a ballad originally sung by Johnny Mercer, was No. 1 for seven weeks in the UK beginning in July 1962 and stayed on the charts for 28 weeks, according to the newspaper. It was the first single to sell more than 1 million copies in England and was the top-selling British single in 1962.

It would hit No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September 1962.

Ifield followed with two more No. 1 hits -- “Lovesick Blues” (1962) and “The Wayward Wind” (1963) -- making him the second artist after Elvis Presley to have three No. 1 songs in the UK, the news outlet reported.

In Philip Norman’s book, “Shout,” the author wrote that Ifield was the headliner for a show on Dec. 2, 1962, at the Embassy cinema in Peterborough. The Beatles were one of the opening acts and “were an unmitigated flop,” Norman wrote.

But by Feb. 23, 1963, Ifield’s “The Wayward Wind,” was at No. 2 on the BBC charts behind The Beatles’ first No. 1 hit, “Please Please Me,” Bob Spitz wrote in his 2005 book, “The Beatles: The Biography.”

Ifield bounced back in July 1963 with his fourth No. 1 hit, “Confessin’ (That I Love You),” The Telegraph reported.

He was born in Coventry, England, on Nov. 30, 1937, to Australian parents, according to the BBC. His father was an inventor who created the Ifield pump, a device used in fuel systems for jet aircraft.

In 1948, the family returned to Australia, where Ifield received a ukulele for his birthday.

“It accompanied me to school one day, where the headmaster encouraged me to adapt Australian poetry to my own tunes and then perform them to the class,” Ifield wrote on his website. “This experience whetted my appetite for what I instinctively knew was to be my calling.”

Ifield moved back to Australia in the early 1980s, according to The Guardian. In 1986, an operation on his lungs damaged his vocal cords and he gave up live performances. He then began hosting radio shows and promoted country music festivals, the newspaper reported.

He regained his voice in 2016 and began touring again.

Ifield is survived by his second wife, Carole Wood, whom he married in 1992, The Guardian reported. He is also survived by two children from his first marriage to Gillian Bowden, which ended in divorce.

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