Sanford Clark, Rockabilly Artist Known for Being Major Elvis Presley Influence, Dies at 85

by Jon D. B.

Legendary Rockabilly artist Sanford Clark, a major influence on Elvis Presley, died on Independence Day. He was 85-years-old.

Per the icon’s publicist, Johnny Vallis, the world is learning today of the death of Sanford Clark. Vallis tells the Associated Press that Clark died on July 4th, 2021.

The Rockabilly legend had been staying at Mercy Hospital in Joplin, Missouri where he underwent cancer treatments. Then, tragically, Clark contracted COVID-19. A final cause of death, however, is not given.

Arizona Republic and USA TODAY’s Dan Nowicki offers his condolences from the state, where Clark spent much of his life.

“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,” Nowicki shares to his official Twitter Tuesday.

Sanford Clark: Remembering a Rockabilly Icon

Sanford Clark was born to Tulsa, Oklahoma on October 24, 1935. He would quickly learn music was his passion in youth, leading him to become one of the most respected musicians of the 1950s – right as Elvis Presley was catapulting to superstardom.

Clark’s biggest hit, “The Fool,” would reach #7 on Billboard’s Top 100 chart. From there, Elvis would pick up the tune, trying his best to emulate the Rockabilly icon. In fact, Presley loved the song so much he would record it twice throughout his prolific career.

In his memoriam, Clark’s publicist, says the legend’s influence on Elvis as being so great that, “You can hear that he’s trying to emulate Sanford’s sound… You know, most people I know want to impersonate Elvis, and here Elvis was trying to impersonate him,” cites People. Vallis says the wide influence of Sanford Clark would also reach guitar legend Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, as well.

As memories of Sanford Clark pour in on social media, the following is perhaps the most touching and revealing. Within, Clark performs a sample of his timeless classic, “The Fool”:

Sanford Clark is survived by his wife and their many children. Our sincerest condolences to the family, friends, and fans the legend leaves behind.