Sanford Clark, a famed Rockabilly artist who influenced Elvis Presley, has died at the age of 85. Clark's publicist, Johnny Vallis, shared the sad news with the Associated Press, revealing that the singer died on July 4th. Clark had been hospitalized at Mercy Hospital in Joplin, Missouri. The musician was receiving cancer treatment at the facility and later contracted Covid-19. Vallis does not appear to have clarified what Clark's official cause of death was. Clark is survived by his wife and several children.
Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1935, Clark grew up to be a respected music artist in the 1950s. He had a big hit back that decade with the song "The Fool." The tune reached all the way to number seven on Billboard's Top 100 chart. It would go on to be recorded by a number of other artists, including Presley, who actually recorded twice: once while serving in the military, and again in a professional studio setting.
R.I.P. Sanford Clark, Phoenix's first Rock and Roll star who was always super-cool and helpful to me over the years. His 1950s rockabilly classics such as "The Fool," "Modern Romance," and "Still As The Night" will live forever. pic.twitter.com/hQ2MvTi2TF— Dan Nowicki (@dannowicki) July 5, 2021
Notably, Vallis states that Clark's influence on Presley is apparent in both versions. "You can hear that he's trying to emulate Sanford's sound," he said. "You know, most people I know want to impersonate Elvis, and here Elvis was trying to impersonate him." Notably, Clark is said to have been an influence on Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards as well, per People.
Sadly, Clark is not the first county or Americana music icon to pass away after being diagnosed with Covid-19. In April 2020, singer-songwriter John Prine died while hospitalized with the deadly virus. The musician was admitted to the hospital on March 26 and his condition, unfortunately, worsened, resulting in him having to be intubated on March 28. Sadly, Prine's condition never improved and, on April 7, his family confirmed to Rolling Stone that he had passed away. He was 73 years old at the time of his death.
In a memorial to his late mentor and friend, shared shortly after Prine's death, singer Sturgill Simpson wrote, "I had to go into the woods and let myself 'just feel' this for a while. You left on a gorgeous moon. There are sometimes people in this life that you meet, seldom and few and far between it would seem, whose souls are so good and pure and beautiful that when they leave it seems if only for a brief while that everything else good and pure and beautiful in this world just left along with them."