Emile Ford

Born Emile Sweetman on 16th October 1937 in Castries, St Lucia in the Caribbean. He grew up in Nassau, Bahamas and emigrated to Great Britain in 1955 with the ambition to be an engineer. As an engineer, he developed a special sound system, and with this unique sound, Emile Ford turned singer and he and his group The Checkmates which consisted of his brothers George Ford and Dave Ford on bass and sax respectively, plus Ken Street on guitar and John Cuffley on drums. Later still, Peter Carter, Les Hart, and Alan Hawkshaw joined on guitar, sax, and piano, respectively. They secured a recording contract with Pye records in 1959 on what was to have been a one-shot basis. That was when Ford's brilliance as a producer came into play — he, engineer Joe Meek, and the Checkmates essentially hijacked the single, generating a B-side that ended up supplanting the originally chosen A-side. "What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes at Me For" was released in the autumn of 1959 and by November it had topped the British charts; it enjoyed the same kind of success everywhere else that English was spoken (except the United States) and a lot of places where it wasn't.

He had a second Top Ten hit with "Slow Boat to China" and then another success with "Red Sails in the Sunset," which generated a hit EP. His string of hits continued into the new decade, charting just as regularly if not as high, and in 1961 Emile Ford & the Checkmates had the inaugural hit on the Pye Records spin-off label Piccadilly with "Half of My Heart." Ford also got to record an album entitled Emile in 1961. His final chart single was "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now," which hit number 43 in England in March of 1962. He abandoned the Checkmates later in 1962, and the group members later formed two separate groups — Ford's non-relations formed the Excheckers, and his two siblings took to calling themselves the Original Checkmates. Ford kept working for a time although, ironically enough, he never really thought of himself as a singer and remained committed to designing his own electronic equipment. He made his last recordings in 1963 and, in the decades since, has worked exclusively behind the scenes in his first choice for a career, designing sound systems, living in Scandinavia and the United States at various times. In 2001, Castle Communications released the double-CD set Counting Teardrops, covering his complete Pye Records sides from 1959 through 1963. He died on 11th April 2016.

Read 6391 times Last modified on Friday, 07 October 2016 13:29
More in this category: « Don Lang Glen Mason »
Login to post comments



The Stringbeat Years cover2

Now available!

The Stringbeat Years: Songs accompanied by John Barry

Now available, a 4-CD box-set comprising of 144 tracks, a 24-page booklet (replete with period photographs and comprehensive notes) and including ten bonus tracks (among them the CD debut of the first ever cover version of a John Barry instrumental composition).

Featuring – for the first time – the film versions of ‘Mix me a Person’, ‘The Time has Come’, and ‘What a Whopper’ (slightly shortened). There’s also an unique opportunity to hear the original version of ‘Ah, Poor Little Baby’, making its premiere appearance on CD.

The box-set is limited to 500 copies and is only £16.99 post-free in the UK, so don’t miss out! It is available direct from this website!

£16.99  post-free in the UK
£19.99  anywhere else in the world

Order now!

Let us know if you aren't able to do this and we'll work out another way. 

Track listing


HitAndMiss 1000

Thoroughly and painstakingly researched over a number of years, it features contributions from several ex-members of the band and from friends and relatives of John Barry.

Comprising of over 360 pages, it is packed with an array of rare photos of the band, and the singers they often supported, as well as some unique images of memorabilia and documentation from that era; some never previously published, many more seldom seen.

Even if you are not necessarily a devotee of The John Barry Seven per se, the book offers a fascinating historical insight into the British music scene of the period and, more importantly, provides an essential read for anybody remotely interested in discovering more about John Barry’s formative career.

The book’s cover price is £30, but anybody ordering direct from us will receive a 33% discount, reducing the cost to £19.99.

Order now (click this line)!

© 2020 - Oh Boy! Geoff Leonard. All Rights Reserved. ohboy.org.uk was re-constructed from the original website. Template Design By ThemeLan.