C. Carson Parks

Clarence Carson Parks, songwriter: born Philadelphia 26 April 1936; twice married; died St Marys, Georgia 22 June 2005.

The songwriter and music publisher C. Carson Parks is best known for his song “Somethin’ Stupid”, which topped both the US and UK charts for Frank Sinatra and his daughter Nancy. Sinatra was to record another of Parks’s compositions, “Open for Business as Usual” but, when he cancelled the session, Parks passed the song to Jack Jones. “Somethin’ Stupid” has been a duet for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell and for the Mavericks with Trisha Yearwood. In 1995, it returned to the charts via Ali Campbell of UB40 and his daughter, Kibibi, and again in 2001, with Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman.

Clarence Carson Parks II was born in Philadelphia in 1936, the son of a family doctor who became a psychiatrist. After university, he formed the Steeltown Two, with a fellow student, Bernie Armstrong, and they eked out a living singing folk songs in California. Terry Gilkyson and Rich Dehr invited them to be part of a reformed Easy Riders and they recorded with the group and in 1960 performed on the soundtrack of the John Wayne film The Alamo. In 1962, Parks revived the Steeltown Two, this time with his brother Van Dyke.

Following the success of the New Christy Minstrels, Gilkyson and Parks formed a choral group, the Greenwood County Singers, featuring five boys and two girls. Parks married a fellow member, Gaile Foote, and they sang romantically together, releasing an album, San Antonio Rose (1966), which included Parks’s songs “Cab Driver” (recorded by the Mills Brothers) and “Somethin’ Stupid”.

Through a contact in Frank Sinatra’s organisation, Parks ensured that Sinatra heard “Somethin’ Stupid”. Sinatra played it to his daughter’s producer, Lee Hazlewood, who recalls, “He asked me, ‘Do you like it?’ and I said, ‘I love it, and if you don’t sing it with Nancy, I will.’ He said, ‘We’re gonna do it, book a studio.’ “

Spencer Leigh

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