With April 1 being April Fool’s Day, some oldies pop music standards with “Fool” in the title may come to mind, and this article takes a look at such tunes, with all of them from the 1950s and 1960s.
Unlike a theme of jokes and pranks connected with April Fool’s Day, rock ‘n’ roll music tends to relate to a more serious-minded approach to the concept of “fools” — even when the word “fool” appears in the title and lyrics.
In honor of April 1, you might want to take a listen to a playlist of fool-titled hits, and to hear any of them, simply click on the title.
- “EVERYBODY’S SOMEBODY’S FOOL” (Connie Francis, No. 1 pop, No. 2 R&B, No. 24 C&W, 1960): This well-known songstress was born Concetta Rosa Marie Franconero in Newark, N.J., and she was the top U.S. female vocalist from the late ’50s to the mid ’60s. charting 35 Billboard Top 40 singles, including three chart-toppers. The song, written by Jack Keller (music) and Howard Greenfield (lyrics), was originally designated as the B-side of “Jealous of You”, which charted at No. 19 nationally. It was also No. 1 in Australia and No. 5 in England.
- “POOR LITTLE FOOL” (Rick Nelson, No. 1 pop, No. 3 C&W, 1958): The son of bandleader Ozzie Nelson and singer Harriet Hilliard, the talented entertainer recorded three dozen Billboard Top 40 recordings, including two No. 1s: this single and “Travelin’ Man” (1961). One of the first teen idols of the rock era, he was also popular as a child actor on TV and in movies, and he dies in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve in 1985. The song, written by 15-year-old Sharon Sheeley, was the very first No. 1 song when Billboard unveiled its new Hot 100 pop chart.
- “A FOOL SUCH AS I” (Elvis Presley, No. 2, 1959): The song, written by Bill Trader, was first recorded by Hank Snow, who took it to No. 4 on the Billboard C&W chart in 1953. It was originally intended as the B-side to “I Need Your Love Tonight” (which also charted highly at No. 4), and backed by The Jordainaires, it also charted at No. 16 R&B. Among the many other artists recording the song were The Robins, Jo Stafford, Carl Dobkins Jr., Tommy Edwards and Bob Dylan.
- “FOOL #1” (Brenda Lee, 1961): “Little Miss Dynamite” was born Brenda Mae Tarpley in Lithonia, Ga., and she started singing at age 6 and signed a Decca recording contract at age 12. Before she became a top country artist in the ’70s and ’80s, she charted 29 Billboard Top 40 singles, including a pair of No. 1s. The song was written by C&W songstress Loretta Lynn, who also recorded it in 1964.
- “SHE’S A FOOL” (Lesley Gore, No. 5 pop, No. 20 R&B, 1963): This New York City-born songstress was discovered by Quincy Jones when she was singing at a hotel in Manhattan, and Jones produced this record. Written by Mark Barkan and Ben Raleigh, this was the third of four consecutive Top 5 songs that launched her career, and it was one of her 11 Billboiard Top 40s.
- “I’M A FOOL TO CARE” (Les Paul & Mary Ford, No. 6, 1954): Their actual names were Lester Polsfuss (from Waukesha, Wis.) and Colleen Summer (from Pasadena, Calif.). Paul, a self-taught guitarist, was with Fred Waring’s big-band orchestra in the late ’30s, and he was a true pioneer in electric guitar and multi-track recordings. The song was written by Ted Daffan and recorded by Ted Daffan’s Texans in 1940. The husband-and-wife team had a dozen Billboard Top 10 to their credit. The song was covered by Joe Barry, who took it to No. 24 in 1961.
- “THE FOOL ON THE HILL” (Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66, No. 6 pop, No. 1 adult contemporary, 1968): This group was formed by a Brazilian pianist-bandleader, who helped open the door for a number of Latin American artists who followed. The Lennon-McCartney composition was first recorded by The Beatles on their 1967 Magical Mystery Tour album. The vocals on this bossa nova-style single were provided by Lani Hall (Mrs. Herb Alpert) and Karen Philipp, and this was one of 12 Billboard Hot 100s for the group. Another cover by Shirley Bassey made it to No. 48 on the UK charts in 1970.
- “THE FOOL” (Sanford Clark, No. 7 pop, No. 5 R&B, No. 14 C&W, 1956): The Tulsa, Okla.-born vocalist moved to Phoenix, Ariz., at age 9, had a minor follow-up to this hit — “The Cheat” (No. 74, 1956) — but never again had a Billboard Top 100 charter. This single featured Al Casey on guitar, and a 1965 re-release had Waylon Jennings on guitar.The song, written by Naomi Ford and Lee Hazlewood, was a lesser hit for The Gallahads (No. 62, 1956).
- “WHAT KIND OF FOOL” (The Tams, No. 9 pop, No. 1 R&B, 1963): Joseph Pope was lead singer for this Atlanta R&B quintet, and the group was formed and first recorded for the Swan label in 1960.The group took its name from the Tam o’ shanter hats that they wore while performing, and this was the second of their Billboard Hot 100 items. Written by Ray Whitley, the song was later covered by Bill Deal & The Rhondels, who took it to No. 23 in 1969.
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