Born: May 8, 1941 in Baton Rouge, La.
Died: April 14, 2005
John Fred Gourrier joined his first band with classmates in Baton Rouge. At just 15, Fred recorded "Shirley" in the Cosimo Matassa studio in New Orleans backed by Fats Domino's band. Charting at 82, the success of "Shirley" led Fred to New York City to appear on Alan Freed's radio show. He turned down an appearance on Dick Clark’s program to play in his school’s basketball game. Now called John Fred & His Playboys, the group retooled its R&B approach, which led to its most popular hit in 1968, "Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)," a rock song that was partially inspired by the Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky (With Diamonds)."
An immediate smash hit, the song sold more than 5 million copies knocking another Beatles song “Hello, Goodbye” off the number one chart position which “Judy . . “ held for two weeks. His follow-up single, “Hey, Hey, Bunny,” reached number 57 on the Billboard chart and the band never hit the top 100 again. Only after years of legal struggles did Fred obtain the full legal rights to “Judy in Disguise” and its royalties.
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.