Pop group Gaylords front man Dean Ford (Tommy McAleese) dies, aged 72
Farewell: Dean Ford, the lead singer of the Scottish pop band Marmalade, has died at the age of 72. Left to right are Pat Fairley, Alan Whitehead, Dean Ford (Tommy McAleese), Junior Campbell and Graham Knight in 1971.
By Democrat reporter
Dean Ford, the lead singer of the Scottish pop band Marmalade and – in his Dunbartonshire days as Dean Ford and the Gaylords – has died at the age of 72.
The Eye in the Sky hit maker sadly passed away on Tuesday (New Year’s Day), his daughter Tracey McAleese-Gorman has confirmed.
Sharing a heartfelt tribute to her father on Facebook, Tracey said: “I am so sad to share that my dear Dad passed away last night.
“He was an amazing man, a gentle soul, extremely talented musician and a great father and Pop Pop to his only grandchild Conor. His music was his life and will now be his legacy for ever.”
Dean Ford and the Gaylords were a group of music daft working class teenagers in the Sixties in Glasgow and Dunbartonshire.
Dean Ford and the Gaylords as Marmalade in London in the 1970s.
They played at venues such as the Lennoxbank House Hotel in Balloch and the Ardencaple Hotel in Helensburgh.
Ford, whose real name was Thomas McAleese, grew up in Airdrie and formed his first band, the Tonebeats, aged 13 before joining local band the Cravats aged 16.
They went on to become Marmalade and the band had a number of top 10 hits in the 1960s and 1970s.
Their best known song was arguably Reflections of My Life, which was written by Dean and his band mate Junior Campbell.
The song earned them a Top Ten hit in the United States, with over two million copies sold across the world.
The group were the first Scottish band to top the UK singles chart in 1969 for their cover of The Beatles’ Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.
Dean went solo after the band split in the 1970s. He also recorded one-off tracks with former Marmalade band member Hugh Nicholson.
After his solo album failed to make the pop charts, Dean Ford was subsequently released by his record label. Battling alcohol addiction, he moved to Los Angeles in 1979.
Virtually unknown as a recording artist in the U.S., he was unable to cash in on his earlier success with Marmalade and his alcohol dependency forced him to drop out of the organised music business.
With the help of friends in Alcoholics Anonymous, Dean was sober by 1986.
He turned to music again by appearing in small clubs and open-mic venues. He admitted at the time his royalties from earlier times kept him financially afloat.
Dean aka Tommy eventually turned to limousine driving in L.A, where he ferried some of the biggest stars around including Michael Jackson and Bob Dylan.
Bill Heaney, editor of The Democrat, said: “I was friendly with Dean Ford and the Gaylords, and with Pat Fairley in particular.
“I decided to organise a gig for them in the Ardencaple Hotel in Helensburgh and worried myself to death almost if people would turn up.
“So much so that to cover the cost I borrowed the rent money for our Dumbarton council house from my mother in case the whole thing flopped.
“It didn’t, of course. The dance was a sell-out, a huge success and the band charged me less than £20.
“I hired two ‘bouncers’, well known Helensburgh locals Dermot Curran and Kenneth Haggert, to collect the ticket money at the door.
“They told me later that when the hall filled up there were fans still coming in through the toilet windows at the back of the hotel.
“The rent money was safe and I made more than £100 after paying the folk singer Josh McCrae, who filled in at the interval, and the hotel for the hire of the hall.
“The band went on to the big time, really big time. They were a great bunch of lads, all hugely talented and perfectly behaved, and Dean Ford (Thomas McAleese) was a superb singer. Our thoughts tonight are with his family and band mates, who will miss him greatly.”