C. Carson Parks

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Best remembered for authoring the 1967 Frank and Nancy Sinatra chart-topper "Somethin' Stupid," songwriter C. Carson Parks was born in Philadelphia on April 26, 1936. Given the first name Clarence at…
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Best remembered for authoring the 1967 Frank and Nancy Sinatra chart-topper "Somethin' Stupid," songwriter C. Carson Parks was born in Philadelphia on April 26, 1936. Given the first name Clarence at birth, he was the oldest of four children, a brood that included younger brother Van Dyke. While attending the University of Miami, Parks befriended fellow student Bernie Armstrong, and after graduation both landed in California, where they founded the Steeltown Two, a folk duo in the mold of the Kingston Trio. In 1959 the Steeltown Two recorded their debut single, "The Wolves," for the tiny Gini label.

After issuing a follow-up, "The Potter's Wheel," on the equally small Neophon imprint, Parks and Armstrong accepted an offer from Terry Gilkyson and Rich Dehr to join their reconstituted Easy Riders, recording a pair of LPs for Decca -- 1960's Rollin' and 1963's The Cry of the Wild Goose -- before dissolving. Parks and Armstrong then revived the Steeltown Two while also backing folkie Bud Dashiell. When Dashiell fired Parks, he recruited brother Van Dyke to form a new incarnation of the Steeltown Two, landing soundtrack work for Disney before recruiting singer Pat Peyton to form the short-lived Southcoasters, cutting the Montclare single "San Francisco Bay" before splitting.

Following the success of the New Christy Minstrels, Gilkyson contacted Parks to form a similar mixed-gender choral group dubbed the Greenwood County Singers. Van Dyke and Pat Peyton soon signed on, as did soprano Gaile Foote, who would later become Carson's wife. The Greenwood County Singers recorded four LPs for Kapp Records before dissolving. While Van Dyke Parks went on to an acclaimed solo career that included his collaboration with the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson on the ill-fated SMiLE project, Carson and Gaile Foote continued as a duo in the mold of Sonny & Cher. Parks began writing songs for a proposed album, including "Somethin' Stupid."

Credited to Carson & Gaile, the LP San Antonio Rose appeared on Kapp in 1966 and earned little attention, but a friend of Parks nevertheless played the song for Frank Sinatra, who in turn played it for daughter Nancy's record producer, Lee Hazlewood. "I love it, and if you don't sing it with Nancy, I will," Hazlewood reportedly responded, and the father-daughter duet went on to top the U.S. and U.K. charts. Although Parks landed a few other songs, including Jack Jones' "Open for Business As Usual," he gradually receded from performing and writing to focus on publishing, owning and operating the Waynesville, NC-based firms Greenwood Music and Br'er Rab Music. He died in St. Mary's, GA, on June 22, 2005.