The “Golden Hits Of The 60s” 

Main MenuConcept Refinement The Author..Wayne JancikGolden Age Of The 50sGolden Age Of The 60s1970s and There After




(JOHN FRED, Andrew Bernard)

Paula 282

No. 1   January 20, 1968




“We just started out as a bunch of guys that liked black music,” said John Fred in an exclusive

interview.   “Par­ents didn’t like it, but we did.   They didn’t like us nei­ther; … but we didn’t care



John Fred Gourrier (b. May 8, 1941, Baton Rouge, LA) had been listening to “Sugarboy”

Crawford, Smiley Lewis, and the Spiders since he was knee-high.   He start­ed his first band–the

Playboys, so named for his favorite reading material, Playboy–in 1956 at the age of 15; the idea

was to work the weekend dances, make some money, and have fun.   Three years later, Sam

Montel spotted John and his Playboy pack and signed them to his Montel label.


“In 1959, we went down to Cosima’s Studio in New Orleans and recorded ‘Shirley’ with Fats

Domino’s band,” said John.   “That day, Fats was recording ‘Whole Lotta Lovin’ and ‘Little

Coquette.”   After he got through recording that, I just went right in with his band.   We didn’t

expect nothin’.   We just wanted to make records to get more jobs.”


“Shirley” charted at number 82.   After Montel issued several more singles and the band toured

up north and appeared at one of Alan Freed’s rock’n’roll shows at the Brooklyn Paramount

Theatre, John­–who was the son of Fred Gourrier, one-time third baseman for the Detroit Tigers-

decided to   put his career on hold while he attended Southern Louisiana College on a basketball 

scholarship.   When he graduat­ed in 1964, John formed a new Playboy Band and cut a remake

of bluesman John Lee Hooker’s “Boogie Chillun” for the En-Joy label.


When “Boogie Chillun” began attracting some sales action, En-Joy chief Rocky Robin

approached Stan Lewis at the Shreveport-based Jewel/Paula record com­plex about national

distribution.   Soon afterward, Fred and his Playboys moved over to Lewis’ labels.


“Stan put us with Dale Hawkins [rockabilly legend, known for “Susie Q”] first, but soon let me

do pretty much what I wanted,” Fred explained.   “I got to produce the band.   Andrew Bernard,

our sax player, did most of the arrangements.   We burned.   We got some hot cuts put out before

‘Judy’ got us typecast.”


The members of the Playboy Band at time of the recording of “Judy in Disguise’ were

saxophonist Andrew Bernard (b. 1945, New Orleans), bassist Harold Cowart (b. June 4, 1944,

Baton Rouge, LA), key­boardist Tommy “Dee” DeGeneres (b. Nov. 3, 1946, Baton Rouge),

trumpeter Ronnie Goodson ( b. Feb. 2, 1945, Miami), percussionist Joe Miceli (b. July 9, 1946,

Baton Rouge), guitarist Jimmy O’Rourche (b. Mar. 14,1947, Fall River, MA), and trumpeter

Charlie “Spinn Spinosa” (b. Dec. 29, 1948, Baton Rouge).


“Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)” was the group’s 16th single.   “We were playing in Florida, and

all the girls at that time had these big sunglasses.   One of the guys was hustling this chick.   She

took off these glasses, and she could stop a clock.   I said, ‘That’s it: That’s what gave me the

idea.”   That, and the Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” said Fred.


Where did John Fred and Andrew Bernard, the song’s writers, pick up “Judy”‘s bizarre/

psychedelic ref­erences to “lemonade pies” and “cantaloupe eyes”?   ”At the time, ‘The Monkees’

was on TV, and the show’s sponsor was Yardley and Playtex,” Fred recalled.   “I was sitting there

and writing words while the TV was on.   And they said something like ‘Cross your heart with a

living bra.’   I just wrote that down, too.   We first called it ‘Beverly in Disguise,’ but it just didn’t

flow, you know.”  


“Judy” was a weird one, but what a hit-it stayed perched atop the charts for

two weeks straight.   Though Fred and his Playboy Band tried to repeat the trick, only their

immediate follow-up, “Hey, Hey Bunny” (#57, 1968), managed to make the national listings.


“Everytime we put out another record, they’d go, ‘Oh, man, this ain’t no ‘Judy in Disguise.’   Well-

shit no, of course it wasn’t.   Paul McCartney told me, ‘That’s the most unique song I’ve ever

heard.’   It wasn’t a great song; it was a great record,” Fred explained.


“It was problems.   We didn’t get much promotion and what we did got us miscast.   Man, people

who did not know of our history thought we were some novel­ty act; then that album cover

made us look like some drum and bugle corp.   Here we were doin’ tight Wilson Pickett….  We

were a white R & B band.   We wanted to do what was happening, but didn’t get the chance to

show our roots.   We got cast and put on tours as this bubble-gum thing that we weren’t.”


In 1969 John and band were signed to Uni.   “Uni was gettin’ hot.   They signed three acts at once–

me, Neil Diamond, and Elton John.   One of us got lost.   Actually, I shoulda stayed with Stan

Lewis [Jewel/Paula].”


Fred remained a full-time music-maker until1976, when he became the vice president of Deep

South Records.   There, he wrote commercials and did some production work (one notable

project: IRMA THOMAS’ Safe With You album).   For awhile he was running John Fred Music and the

Sugarcane record label.   In the ’80s, he retooled the Playboy Band for performances through­

out the South.   In the ’90s, Fred organized and recorded with the Louisiana Men, a trio

comprised of himself, ex-CHASE vocalist G. G. Shin and ex-Uniques vocalist JOE STAMPLEY.

Playboy bassman Harold Cowart went on to play bass with the Bee Gees for 10 years and later

sessioned for Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, and Barbra Streisand.


Fred adds, “‘Judy in Disguise’ was a once in a life­ time thing.   You can never cut anything like it

again.   That song was us, but we were so much more and most people never got to know that

side of us.   Hey, what can I say, that song is gonna outlive me.”


John died April 15, 2005.