Country Singer Frank Ifield Dead at 86

The country star scored hits with like 'I Remember You' and 'Lovesick Blues' and also helped introduce fans to The Beatles when they opened for him in the UK.

Legendary Australian country music singer and guitarist Frank Ifield has died. Ifield passed away peacefully on Saturday, May 18, his brother confirmed, according to music historian and journalist Glenn A. Baker. A cause of death was not disclosed. Ifield was 86.

Born in England in 1937 but growing up in Australia, Ifield's love of music began at an early age. When he was 11, his parents gifted him a ukelele for his birthday, and after being encouraged by his school's headmaster to adapt Australian poetry to his own tunes and perform them in class, Ifield "instinctively knew [music] was to be my calling," according to his biography. After being given a guitar by his grandmother when he was 13, Ifield taught himself and began writing songs that included yodelling. He soon began appearing on radio 2GB's Australia's Amateur Hour, with his performance of Bill Showmet's "Did You See My Daddy Over There?" making waves, per The Music. He went on to sign a recording contract with EMI Regal Zonophone.

Birthday Boy Frank Ifield

Pop singer Frank Ifield receives a Golden Disc for his song 'I Remember You' and a Silver Disc for 'Lovesick Blues', as a 25th birthday present from his record company, 30th November 1962.

- Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

After becoming the No. 1 recording artist in Australia and New Zealand by the time he was 19, Ifield moved to London. It was there that he went on to release four No. 1 hits on the UK singles chart – his cover of Johnny Mercer and Victor Schertzinger's "I Remember You" and "Lovesick Blues" in 1962, and "Wayward Wind" and "Confessin' (That I Love You)" in 1963. In total, throughout his career, Ifield scored more than a dozen charting singles in Australia and released 25 albums, his last coming in 1985 with the independently issued I Remember These. He also notably helped launch The Beatles when he welcomed them as his opening act and performed in front of the late Queen Elizabeth at Royal Variety Show in 1965.

In 1986, Ifield was diagnosed with pneumonia and underwent surgery to remove part of a lung. After his vocal cords were damaged during the surgery, his music career was put on hold. He wrote his autobiography in 2005.

"There is so much to be said about this remarkable man, who had four number ones in Britain, three of them before the Beatles (who he had briefly support him in concert). I Remember You became an indelible hit all around the world and a perfect signature song. It topped the U.K. charts for 7 weeks," Baker wrote in tribute to the late musician. "This is not the time to say any more than my thoughts are with Frank's brothers and his wife Carole and to say how fortunate I was to see him earlier this year. I'm still gathering my thoughts."

Ifield was inducted into the Australian Roll of Renown in 2003, the ARIA Hall Of Fame in 2007, the Mo Awards Hall Of Fame in 2009, and the Coventry Music Wall Of Fame in 2012. In 2009, he was presented with a Medal of the Order of Australia for his "service to the arts as an entertainer." Ifield is survived by his wife Carole Wood and two children who he shared with ex-wife Gillian Bowden.