An appropriate oldies pop music topic for April Fool’s Day is a compilation of the top 12 songs from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s that included the word “fool” in the title.
Two such songs — “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool” by Connie Francis and “Poor Little Fool” by Ricky Nelson — went to the top of Billboard Magazine’s national pop charts, while Elvis Presley’s “A Fool Such As I” made it to the runner-up position.
There were three dozen songs with “fool” in the title that reached the Billboard Hot 100 in the above-mentioned decades, but this article put the focus on the dozen highest charters among them, and to hear any of the songs, simply click on the title.
- 1. “EVERYBODY’S SOMEBODY’S FOOL” (Connie Francis, No. 1, 1960): The Newark, N.J., songstress was the top-charting U.S. female vocalist in the late ’50s and early ’60s. As early as age 4, she was pushed by her father, George Franconero, to enter beauty pageants and talent contests on a regular basis, and she wound up charting 35 Billboard top 40 hits between 1958 and 1964.
- 2. “POOR LITTLE FOOL” (Rick Nelson, No. 1, 1958): The son of bandleader Ozzie Nelson and singer Harriet Hilliard starred on his parents’ radio and TV sows from 1949 to 1966, and as a recording artist, he had three dozen Billboard Top 40 chart hits, including half of those in the Top 10, and two No. 1s, with the other being “Travelin’ Man” in 1961.
- 3. “A FOOL SUCH AS I” (Elvis Presley, No. 2, 1959): The King Of Rock And Roll — born in Tupelo, Miss., before moving to Memphis in his early teens — was second only to The Beatles’ 20 in number of No. 1 singles with 18 of his own, and he had 114 Top 40 hits.
- 4, “FOOL #1” (Brenda Lee, No. 3, 1961): Little Miss Dynamite was a native of Lithonia, Ga., but she relocated to Nashville, Tenn., as a youngster. She charted 29 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including two No. 1s (“I’m Sorry” and “I Want To Be Wanted”) in 1960. A professional singer since age 6, she signed a contract with Decca Records at age 11. She became a C&W artist in the ’70s and ’80s.
- 5. “FOOLED AROUND AND FELL IN LOVE” (Elvin Bishop, No. 3, 1976): The guitarist from Tulsa, Okla., had previously played lead guitar with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band in the late ’60s, and this recording featured vocalist Mickey Thomas and drummer Donny Baldwin, who both later performed in Jefferson Starship.
- 6. “EVERYBODY PLAYS THE FOOL” (Main Ingredient, No. 3, 1972): This New York City soul trio was formed as The Poets in 1964, and it consisted of Donald McPherson, Luther Simmons Jr. and Tony Silvester. But by the time of this hit, Cuba Gooding Sr. had replaced McPherson, who unexpectedly died suffering from leukemia.
- 7. “FOOLISH LITTLE GIRL” (Shirelles, No. 4, 1963): This Passaic, N.J., girl quartet was formed in junior high school as The Poquellos, and it featured Shirley Alston on lead, backed by Beverly Lee, Doris Keener and Micki Harris. This was the 11th of the group’s 12 Billboard Top 40 hits, and “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” (1960) and “Soldier Boy” (1962) reached the top of the charts.
- 8. “SHE’S A FOOL” (Lesley Gore, No. 5, 1963): This New York City-born songstress was discovered by Quincy Jones while singing at a Manhattan hotel, and she had big-time success, beginning in 1963 at age 17, with her chart-topping “It’s My Party.” This was the third of her 11 national Top 40 hits.
- 9. “THE FOOL ON THE HILL” (Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66, No. 6, 1968): This group was formed by a Brazilian pianist, and it featured Lani Hall (Herb Alpert’s wife) on lead vocals. The song was a Lennon-McCartney composition, and it was first recorded on the Magical Mystery Tour album in 1967. In addition to the pop charts, it was also No. 1 for six weeks on the adult contemporary listings.
- 10. “WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE?” (Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers, No. 6, 1956): This young group from The Bronx was formed as The Premiers in 1955, and lead singer Lymon died of a drug overdose at age 25 in 1968. The group was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1993.
- 11. “THE FOOL” (Sanford Clark, No. 7, 1956): This one-hit wonder from Phoenix, Ariz., had a top-seller with a song written by then-local DJ Lee Hazlewood, featuring personal friend Al Casey on guitar. The song was first released on the MCI label, but Dot Records picked up the song up for national distribution after being tipped off by a Philadelphia DJ. In addition to its pop success, it also made it to No. 5 C&W and No. 5 R&B.
- 12. “WHAT KIND OF FOOL (DO YOU THINK I AM)” (The Tams, No. 9, 1964): This song was also a No. 1 song on the national R&B charts for this Atlanta quintet fronted by Joseph Pope. They first recorded for the Swan label in 1960, but this single was on ABC Paramount.
And here are two “bonus songs” that are being included because although they didn’t make a dent in the Billboard Magazine’s Hot 100 pop listings, they went all the way to No. 1 on the national R&B chart.
* “FOOL FOR YOU” (Ray Charles, No. 1 R&B, 1955): This legendary singer was blind, as the result of glaucoma, by the age of 7, but that didn’t prevent him from running off a long string of hits spanning more than four decades.
* “FOOL, FOOL, FOOL” (The Clovers, No. 1 R&B, 1951): John “Buddy” Bailey was lead singer of this Washington, D.C., group at the time of this recording, and at one point, they charted 13 consecutive Top 10 R&B recordings.
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