Sanford Clark, rockabilly singer, died at 85 from COVID-19

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Sanford Clark, a rockabilly star known for his 1956 hit song “The Fool” has passed away. He was 85 years old.

The singer died Sunday at Mercy Hospital in Joplin, Missouri, from COVID-19. Clark had received cancer treatment before contracting the coronavirus, his publicist and fellow performer Johnny Vallis confirmed to The Associated Press on Monday.

Clark was born October 24, 1935 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Clark grew up in Phoenix, where he began performing in the early 1950s. “The Fool” reached No. 7 on the Billboard Top 100 and was subsequently recorded by several well-known artists, including Elvis Presley and The Animals.

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Presley, in particular, recorded the song twice, Vallis explained. The trail was originally part of Presley’s personal records while serving in the military. Presley recorded the song again for professional release in the 1970s.

Sanford Clark's hit song,
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Sanford Clark’s hit song “The Fool” was subsequently recorded by several well-known artists, including Elvis Presley and The Animals.
(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images)

“You can hear he’s trying to emulate the sound of Sanford,” Vallis told the outlet. “You know, most people I know want to pretend to be Elvis, and here Elvis was trying to pretend to be him.”

Presley died in 1977 at the age of 42.

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Clark recorded several other songs in the 1950s and 1960s. He enjoyed minor success before leaving the music business to work in construction. In recent years, Clark has occasionally recorded music for his own label, Desert Sun Records.

Sanford is survived by his wife, Marsha, and several children.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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