Reflecting on Marmalade’s ‘Reflections of My Life’

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Dean Ford, the lead vocalist of the Scottish band Marmalade, best known for their 1969-70 hit single, “Reflections of My Life,” died December 31, 2018. Ford, whose real name was Thomas McAleese, was 72. His daughter, Tracey McAleese Gorman, noted in a Facebook post that her father’s cause of death was due to complications from Parkinson’s disease.

From 1968 to 1976, Marmalade scored eight Top 10 hits in the U.K., one of which topped the chart: a cover of the Beatles’ “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.” But it was “Reflections of My Life,” which reached #3 in the U.K. and #7 in the U.S., that ultimately earned them their worldwide fame.

It was a crowded U.S. singles chart in May 1970. “Reflections of My Life” would peak at #7 on Record World

The song was written by Ford/McAleese and his frequent songwriting partner, Marmalade keyboardist/guitarist, William “Junior” Campbell. The group also included Graham Knight on bass guitar, Alan Whitehead on drums and Pat Fairley on guitar.

Upon Ford’s death, Campbell said, “Just this little guy with big ears and big hands, but from the moment he opened his mouth to sing Roy Orbison’s ‘In Dreams,’… [I] knew he was something special. He was an exceptional talent and I am privileged and proud to have performed with him, and to have written songs with him… some of which apparently still mean something, to many, all over the world. I loved him dearly.”

Ford/McAleese was born Sept. 5, 1945, in North Lanarkshire, Scotland. He formed his first group, the Tonebeats, as a 13-year-old. Several years later, during a performance in Glasgow, to which Campbell refers above, he was asked to join the popular local group, the Gaylords.

Related: Top radio hits of 1970

McAleese took his stage name by combining the first name of Dean Martin and last name of Tennessee Ernie Ford, as the group became billed as Dean Ford and the Gaylords. They relocated to London during the height of the British Invasion and changed names to the Marmalade (ultimately dropping the “the”).

“Reflections of My Life” was recorded in October 1969, with added brass and strings, and released in the U.K. in November 1969 and in March 1970 in the U.S. On May 23, the single reached #7 on the Record World singles chart.

Several years later, the members went their separate ways and Ford began a solo career. In 1975, he sang two songs on the Alan Parsons Project album, Pyramid.

Years later, Ford fell on hard times. He moved to Los Angeles, where numerous reports note that he became a limousine driver for many music stars, including Michael Jackson and Bob Dylan.

Ford had resumed recording in recent years, releasing an album, This Scottish Heart, in 2018. In 2014, he recorded a beautiful, updated version of “Reflections in My Life,” with producer Joe Tansin.

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11 Comments so far

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  1. BIWJ
    #1 BIWJ 7 January, 2019, 20:01

    RIP Dean Ford. Such an underrated talent. The re-recorded 2014 version of Reflections Of My Life with Joe Tansin is exquisite and brought me to tears.

    Reply this comment
  2. Debbie
    #2 Debbie 11 June, 2019, 16:09

    So sorry to hear of Dean Ford’s passing. One of my favorite songs of all time. R.I.P

    Reply this comment
  3. DD Dillard
    #3 DD Dillard 1 January, 2020, 09:55

    Damn, that was so good.

    Reply this comment
  4. Fry
    #4 Fry 9 February, 2020, 15:32

    Who’s the beautiful woman playing the strings in the 2014 version. I play it daily it’s perfect. Thank you Mr Ford and company.

    Reply this comment
    • John
      John 24 January, 2023, 22:37

      Mr Fry I have been trying to find out how I can get the 2014 version Dean Fords Reflections Of My Life. I saw your comments from 2020 on You Tube. Saw the video and and l was blown away by it. I like it better than the original, I would like to get it on CD, thank you for any help you can give.

      Reply this comment
  5. 122intheshade
    #5 122intheshade 1 January, 2021, 16:30

    I loved “Rainbow” (1970?).

    Reply this comment
  6. Lorelei
    #6 Lorelei 1 January, 2022, 21:51

    That was absolutely beautiful! And singing that song at this stage of life is even more beautiful. I am so very glad, and we are all blessed, that he rerecorded Reflections of My Life and made that video. R.I.P. Dean Ford/Thomas McAleese, and thank you.

    Reply this comment
  7. music all day
    #7 music all day 16 May, 2022, 22:40

    Song “Reflections Of My Life” was released late February 1970 in Seattle, entering chart at #50 02/28/1970. Reached #2 in April.

    KJR 95 – Seattle
    Fabulous 50
    APRIL 24, 1970

    TW LW
    1. Let It Be – Beatles 1
    2. Reflections Of My Life – The Marmalade 3
    3. Everything Is Beautiful – Ray Stevens 7
    4. American Woman – Guess Who 5
    5. Love Grows – Edison Lighthouse 10

    Vocals in that song are quite soulful, enjoyed owning that 45rpm single back in the day, wore it out plenty.

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  8. Kate
    #8 Kate 17 May, 2022, 01:01

    Magnificent. Chills. I’m sorry he fell between the cracks. Thank you for this. It’s a masterpiece

    Reply this comment
  9. Melf
    #9 Melf 17 May, 2022, 01:01

    You are making some statement about the songs that charted in May 1970.
    To say it’s crowded is an understatement! Reflection was ripe with emotion, but the rest of those tunes are etched in Vinyl. Vehicle, Let it Be. The list goes on and.on! Thanks for reminding us how outstanding it really was.

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