11 April 2016
Emile Ford has died in London, aged 78.
Ford was born Michael Emile Telford Miller on 16 October 1937, in St Lucia, Windward Islands (Bahamas).
He emigrated to London during the 1950s and by early 1959 he was heading his own group, The Checkmates – featuring his brother George and college friend Ken Street.
The trio hit the popular Soho skiffle circuit of coffee bars and clubs, and before the close of 1959, they had won a Soho Fair talent contest.
A recording contract with Pye followed and additional members were brought in to The Checkmates.
During October 1959 the group recorded a beaty version of the 1916 show tune What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For? and success was instant. The single raced to the top of the British chart in January 1960 and stayed there for six weeks, earning Emile Ford his first gold disc for sales in excess of one million.
His second single was another cover version – On A Slow Boat To China (written by Frank Loesser in 1948). The track missed the top spot, peaking at #3, but proving Ford was no ‘one-hit wonder’.
Despite his extraordinary popularity as a performer, in later years, Emile returned to his first love: his relentless pursuit of using technology to produce the ‘perfect sound’.
Emile is survived by his siblings, Atlee Miller, Dame Billie Miller, Buddie Miller, Cecille Hadgu, David Sweetnam, Jeanne Sweetnam-Brown, Luther Miller and Dr Paul Ashley Sweetnam; and by seven children.