Frankie Ford

Frankie Ford backstage during the 2012 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Rock and roll and rhythm and blues singer Frankie Ford, whose 1959 hit "Sea Cruise" brought him international fame and reached No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100, is dead at the age of 76.

The Jefferson Parish Coroner's Office says Ford died Monday of natural causes. Mike Shepherd, head of the Louisiana music Hall of Fame, says Ford had been ill for some time.

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Ford had sung since childhood. His adopted parents, Vincent and Anna Guzzo of Gretna, brought him to New York when he was 5 to perform on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour.

Shepherd says Ford was among three white singers called to Cosimo Matassa's New Orleans studio in the late 1950s to cover songs by local black musicians whose records got less airtime because of racial discrimination.