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Frank Ifield – We Remember You

Much-loved Dural identity Frank Ifield died on Saturday, May 18th aged 86.

The man who was patron of the Galston Country Music Festival for a decade and was a champion of up and coming country singers was a major star in the UK in the 60s when he gave a young Liverpool band called The Beatles a chance to perform.

Frank became a household name in Britain before fellow Australians, the Seekers, the Bee Gees and the Easybeats headed to the UK and yet he was always humble. A Rotarian who went out of his way to foster young Australian talent when he returned home to his beloved Hills.

Rock Historian Glenn A. Baker said on Facebook page:

“There is so much to be said about this remarkable man, who had four number ones in Britain, three of them before the Beatles (who he had briefly supported him in concert). I Remember You became an indelible hit all around the world and a perfect signature song. It topped the UK charts for 7 weeks.’

Frank’s parents (Richard and Hannah) were Australians who were living in the UK when Frank was born on 30th November 1937.

His father was an inventor and engineer who created the Ifield fuel pump used in jet aircraft. The family returned to Australia when Frank was 11 and moved to Dural to live on a farm.

Frank, who was the third of seven boys, listened to country music while milking the family cow Betsy. He said he used to yodel to stop her kicking the milking bucket over.

At junior school, he led the singing. Music was in his genes as his grandfather was a former performer with touring minstrel shows.

Frank taught himself to play the ukulele before his grandmother bought him his first guitar as an 11th birthday present. After coming second in a talent competition held by a local radio station, Frank made his first broadcasts at the age of 13.

Frank Ifield - We Remember You
Photos glenn a baker facebook

Two years later he was hired to dress as a cowboy and entertain audiences for Big Chief Little Wolf, a wrestling booth showman in a touring fair.

He made his first record at the age of 16 for the Australian branch of EMI. His career was interrupted by national service but by the age of 21 Ifield was one of Australia’s leading country and pop singers, with his own television show, Campfire Favourites.

He returned to the UK at the age of 21 in 1959 where he secured a recording deal with Norrie Paramor of EMI’s Columbia label.

While his first few records were not hits he topped the charts with a cover version of I Remember You, a song written for the 1942 film Follow the Fleet.

It reached a million sales in the UK and stayed at Number 1 for seven weeks. It remained in the UK charts for 28 weeks and made number 1 in Australia and number 5 in the US.

It was around this time that he met The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein. Ifield included the band as a support act at his show at the Embassy Cinema in Peterborough in December 1962 after he heard Love Me Do. They appeared free of charge.

Ifield also entered the race to represent the UK at Eurovision on two occasions – in 1962 and 1976 – but was unsuccessful at the national selection stage.

In 1986 he contracted pneumonia and required surgery to remove part of a lung. As a result, his vocal cords were damaged, which meant he could not sing or yodel for years. He returned to Australia in the 1980s moving to Dural.

In 1991, Ifield made a surprise return to the UK charts with The Yodelling Song – a dance remake of his 1962 track She Taught Me How To Yodel, which the Queen Mother once requested at a Royal Command Performance.

In 2016 his singing voice had recovered enough for him to return to the stage with a show that revisited his career.

He joined the Rotary Club of Galston and was Patron of the Galston Country Music Festival (1997 to 2007).

In a career spanning seven decades, he recorded 25 albums. In 2003, Ifield was inducted into the Australian Roll of Renown and was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame at the ARIA Music Awards of 2007. He was presented with the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2009 for services to the music industry.

He is survived by his second wife, Carole Wood, whom he married in 1992, and by two children from his first marriage, to Gillian Bowden.

Bev Jordan

Bev Jordan studied journalism at Harlow College in the UK.  She achieves a Diploma in Journalism from the National Council for the Training of Journalists. After migrating to Australia at the end of 1984, she took up a Senior Journalist position with Cumberland Newspapers, based on the Parramatta Advertiser. She has since worked on the Daily Telegraph, Sydney Morning Herald and was a lecturer in Journalism at Macleay College in Sydney. Bev returned to Cumberland Newspapers (NewsLocal) and worked for 30 years covering all different mastheads, including Mosman Daily, Mount Druitt Standard and finally Hills Shire Times for the last 17 of those years. Bev’s passion has always been local community journalism.  She says “As a journalist, I have always seen it as my job to inform, inspire and involve.  I am a passionate advocate for organisations and people making a difference to the world around them. Connectedness is so important to the health of an individual but also to a community, no matter how small or large.

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