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Emile Ford

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Emile Ford (born Emile Sweetman, 16 October 1937 in Castries, Saint Lucia, West Indies) is a musician and singer, who was popular in the United Kingdom in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Ford was the son of a government official plus an opera singing mother, and he moved to Britain with his family at an early age.

He was educated at the Paddington Technical College in London. It was during this time that Ford taught himself to play a number of musical instruments. These included the guitar, piano, violin, bass guitar and drums. His innate interest in music was fostered by his mother, and perhaps derived in part — according to annotator Roger Dopson and journalist Norman Jopling — in his lifelong affliction of synesthesia. This medical condition creates the sensation of perceiving sound as colours and patterns.

Along with George Ford, Ken Street and John Cuffley; Emile Ford and the Checkmates first self-produced recording “What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes at Me For?” went to Number one in the UK Singles Chart at the end of 1959 and stayed there for six weeks. The track remains as having the longest question ever asked by a chart topping disc in the UK. Ford was also the first black British artist to sell one million copies of a 7” single.

Ford first entered show business at the age of twenty, and made his first public appearance at The Buttery, Kensington. This was immediately followed by appearances at (on a rotor basis): The Breadbasket, Fitzroy Square; The Roebuck, corner of Tottenham Court Road and Warren Street tube station; The Macabre, Soho; and Chiquita’s, near Regent Street (then the Show Business Agents coffee bar)

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