From Teen Idol to Folk Phenom: The Story of Frank Fafara

The 1950s marked the beginning of the teen idol craze that swept the nation and is still seen in the screaming fangirls and fanboys of today. From the days of Elvis Presley all the way to Justin Bieber, a select group of fresh-faced singers have had the power to hypnotize millions with their superstar looks, sweet croons and perfectly quaffed hair. Frank Fafara sits among this elite group of hair gelled heartthrobs.

In 1959, Fafara played his first gig ever in a high school gymnasium and quickly rode the high pitched screams of adoring fans all the way to a recording session with the famous guitarist, Al Casey. This session yielded Fafara’s first recording, “Only in My Dreams,” which quickly rose to #5 on the Phoenix Top 10 radio charts and earned him the coveted 3 star rating from Billboard Magazine. Riding on this newfound fame, Fafara continued to record a series of songs, including “Miss You Dee,” “Lovemaker, Lovebreaker,” and “Golden One,” while also touring around the country, making multiple appearances on KPHO’s Saturday night TV show, Teen Beat, and the famed Wallace & Ladmo Show.

As Fafara matured, so did his musical interests, leading him to shift from a teen pop sensation to a member of the folk-country counterculture movement of the ‘60s, where he changed his name to Frank Fara. Touring as “The Frank Fara Show featuring Patty Parker,” Fafara continued to record and perform across the United States, falling in love with Patty Parker along the way. The two went on to open their own record label, Comstock Records, which saw great success, including a Top 10 national single by Comstock’s first artist, Alex Fraser, and an Indie Label of the Year award from the ECMA. Country music lovers heard the songs of Comstock not only across the United States, but on radio stations throughout the UK and Europe.

In 2006, a handful of Fafara’s recordings were rediscovered at Audio Recorders, the iconic studio that made Phoenix a recording hub in the 1960s. While the songs were leased to Del-Fi Records in the 1960s, they were never released nationally, leaving them full of untapped potential. Once discovered, these rare rock ‘n’ roll recordings were compiled, digitized and released as an album titled Only In My Dreams via Fafara’s label, Comstock Records. Since then, Fafara’s hidden recordings have become cult classics and made cameos in high profile television shows including Girls, American Horror Story and The Good Wife. Listen to some of the rediscovered recordings below and enjoy. 

Posted on April 4, 2017 .