Frontman of first Scottish band to top UK singles chart later became limousine driver in Los Angeles
Dean Ford, the frontman with Scottish guitar-pop group Marmalade, has died aged 72.
His daughter announced the news on Facebook, writing that Ford was “an amazing man, a gentle soul, extremely talented musician and a great father and Pop Pop to his only grandchild Connor … His music was his life and will now be his legacy for ever.”
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. He went on to front Dean Ford and the Gaylords, who became established in the nascent “swinging London” scene of the mid-60s, before changing their name to Marmalade.
The band became the first Scottish group to top the UK singles chart, with their cover of the Beatles’ Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da in December 1968. They had another seven UK Top 10 hits, including Reflections of My Life, co-written by Ford, which also reached the US Top 10 and sold over 2m copies worldwide. The band toured with the Who and Ford duetted with country star Bobbie Gentry.
Ford went solo after the band split and released an unsuccessful album in 1975. Eventually he moved to Los Angeles and worked as a limousine driver to stars including Michael Jackson, Tom Waits, Susan Sarandon and Bob Dylan, as well as delivering pizza and flowers. He also developed an alcohol problem before going sober in 1986. “The only thing that spoiled my life was alcohol,” he said in a 2015 interview. “I spent a lot of money on alcohol. And drinking took me away from what I should be doing.”