Lovesick Blues by Frank Ifield

Every New Zealand #1 single…

Lovesick Blues by Frank Ifield

Topped the NZ chart: 10 January 1963 for 1 week.


The early 1960s are notable for a power vacuum in rock and roll. Many stars of the 1950s saw their careers stall. Buddy Holly died in a plane crash, Little Richard joined the clergy, and Elvis joined the army.

This power vacuum left space for other genres to dominate. The lighter sounds of The Chiffons and Cliff Richard both topped the NZ charts in early 1963. Artists like Andy Williams and Frank Ifield hit number one with records that sounded like rock and roll had never happened.

Frank Ifield was born in Coventry to Australian parents. Returning to Australia he lived in the country, listening to hillbilly music while milking the cow. He launched a recording career while still living in Australia.

His career took off when he returned to the UK in 1959. ‘I Remember You’ was his first big hit. It showcased his kooky crooning, prone to breaking into falsetto. He enjoyed four number one hits over 1962 and 1963, and performed at the Royal Variety Performance.

The song ‘Lovesick Blues’ dated back to Tin Pan Alley. It was first recorded in 1922, but Emmett Miller’s 1925 version is better known. Miller cross-pollinated country and swing. It was also covered in a celebrated country version by Hank Williams in 1948.

Ifield splits the difference between Miller’s and Williams’ version. There’s a swing arrangement but his croon and yodelling are country-inspired. While his vocal prowess is impressive, it feels gimmicky to modern ears.

In at least some places, it was a double a-side with ‘She Taught Me To Yodel’.

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1960s album reviews


Graham Fyfe is probably the only music blogger to appreciate Neil Diamond and Ariana Grande. Aphoristic Album Reviews features reviews and blog posts across a growing spectrum of popular music.


  1. I love Lovesick Blues. I didn’t know it was an old Tin Pan Alley song cuz I thought it was written by Hank Williams. Just about everybody in the whole universe has done this song. I have a whole bunch of them like Linda Ronstadt, Jimmie Rodgers, Patsy Cline. Actually just about every country artist sang it. I can’t wait to hear this one cuz I never heard of this guy.

    • Yeah, I should have noted more of the versions – it’s widely covered.

      Frank Ifield was bigger in the UK, Australia, and NZ than the US – maybe unusual for country artist.

  2. This version was a little bit too corny but he could do the country music blue yodel. I heard it’s really hard to do. I read that the blues singer Howlin’ Wolf said that he tried to imitate the country singer Jimmie Rodgers’ yodel but it came out more like a howl and that’s how he got his famous howl.

    • Did you listen to the double a-side (‘She Taught Me How to Yodel?). It’s even more yodelly.

      I think this version of Lovesick Blues crosses the cornball line too far as well.

  3. He was a brave soul for trying to follow Hank not only with the song but the yodel. Not real hepped about this version, BUT! I want to thank you for bringing this song by him back to me. I was born the year before it was a hit but it has been stored in my brain mysteriously since then. The mind and memory at mysterious things. Maybe our brains are like a flash drive and the main storage is off-site? Anyway, thanks again, Graham for this gem from the past:

    • I’d never heard it before yesterday -I just scanned through a list of #1 hits for one I didn’t know (although there are plenty of other 1963 #1 hits I also don’t know). It did well in the US but wasn’t a number one.

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