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.
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.