Freddy Cannon's recordings leapt out of the radio with a unique blast of energy and let's have a good time invitation to party. The first American rockin' popster of the era to top the UK album charts, Mr Picariello (you didn't think he was born a cannon, did ya?) also holds the record for the most appearances - 110 - on US TV's American Bandstand. This explosive 2CD set includes all of his hit singles and rocking album tracks. (Amazon)Freddy Picariello was born in Swampscott, Massachusetts, moving to the neighboring town of Lynn as a child. His father worked as a truck driver and also played trumpet and sang in local bands. Freddy grew up listening to the rhythm and blues music of Big Joe Turner, Buddy Johnson and others on the radio, and learned to play guitar. After attending Lynn Vocation High School, he made his recording debut in 1955, singing and playing rhythm guitar on a single, "Cha-Cha-Do" by the Spindrifts, which became a local hit. He also played lead guitar on a session for an R&B vocal group, The G-Clefs, whose record "Ka-Ding Dong" made No. 24 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1956. At a young age he joined the National Guard, took a job driving a truck, married, and became a father.
Inspired musically by Chuck Berry and Little Richard, he formed his own group, Freddy Karmon & the Hurricanes, which became increasingly popular in the Boston area, and began to develop a trademark strained singing style. He also became a regular on a local TV dance show, Boston Ballroom, and, in 1958, signed up to a management contract with Boston disc jockey Jack McDermott. With lyrics written by his mother, he prepared a new song which he called "Rock and Roll Baby", and produced a demo which McDermott took to the writing and production team of Bob Crewe and Frank Slay. They rearranged the song and rewrote the lyrics, and offered to produce a recording in return for two-thirds of the composing credits. The first recording of the song, now titled "Tallahassee Lassie", with a guitar solo by session musician Kenny Paulson, was rejected by several record companies, but was then heard by TV presenter Dick Clark who part-owned Swan Records in Philadelphia. Clark suggested that the song be re-edited and overdubbed to add excitement, by highlighting the pounding bass drum sound and adding hand claps and Freddy's cries of "whoo!", which later became one of his trademarks. The single was finally released by Swan Records, with the company president, Bernie Binnick, suggesting Freddy's new stage name of "Freddy Cannon". After being promoted and becoming successful in Boston and Philadelphia, the single gradually received national airplay. In 1959, it peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the first of his 22 songs to appear on the Billboard chart, and also reached No. 13 on the R&B singles chart. In the UK, where his early records were issued on the Top Rank label, it reached No. 17.
He stayed on the Swan label with producer Frank Slay for the next five years, and became known as Freddy "Boom Boom" Cannon, for the thumping power of his recordings. Dick Clark brought him national exposure through his numerous appearances on his television program, American Bandstand - a record of 110 appearances in total. In the words of writer Cub Koda:
"Freddy Cannon was a true believer, a rocker to the bone. Freddy Cannon made rock & roll records; great noisy rock & roll records, and all of them were infused with a gigantic drum beat that was an automatic invitation to shake it on down anyplace there was a spot to dance."
His second single "Okefenokee" (credited to Freddie Cannon, as were several of his other records) only made No. 43 on the charts, but the next record, "Way Down Yonder In New Orleans", a rocked-up version of a 1922 song, became a gold record and reached No. 3 in the pop charts in both the US and the UK, where it was the biggest of his hits. Cannon toured in Britain, and in March 1960 his album, The Explosive Freddy Cannon, became the first LP by a rock and roll singer to top the album charts in the UK. For the next two years, until early 1962, he continued to have lesser chart hits in the US, in some cases with versions of old standards including "Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy" and Louis Armstrong's "Muskrat Ramble". His hits also included "Twistin' All Night Long", recorded with Danny and the Juniors and also featuring Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons on backing vocals. However, one of his biggest hits came in May 1962 with "Palisades Park", written by future TV Gong Show host Chuck Barris. Produced by Slay with overdubbed rollercoaster sound effects, it reached No. 3 on the Hot 100, No. 15 on the R&B chart, and No. 20 in the UK. (Goldmine)trax CD 1:
01 tallahassee lassie 02 buzz buzz a-diddle-it 03 way down yonder in new orleans 04 okefenokee 05 the house of blue lights 06 indiana 07 for me and my gal 08 kansas city 09 boston 10 my blue heaven 11 the blacksmith blues 12 muskrat ramble 13 transistor sister 14 the urge 15 blue plate special 16 happy shades of blue 17 california here I come 18 st. louis blues 19 blue suede shoes 20 kookie hat 21 humdinger 22 carolina in the morning 23 jump over 24 chattanooga shoes shine boy 25 sweet georgia brown 26 two thousand-88
trax CD 2:
01 Way Down Yonder In New Orleans (reprossessed stereo) 02 Indiana (alt. stereo recording) 03 Kansas City (alt. stereo recording) 04 Five Foot Two, Eyes Of Blue 05 St. Louis Blues (alt. stereo recording) 06 Blues Skies 07 Boston (My Home Town) (alt. stereo recording) 08 Bye Bye Blues 09 The Old Piano Roll Blues 10 California Here I Come (alt. stereo recording) 11 Carolina In The Morning (alt. stereo recording) 12 Sweet Georgia Brown (alt. stereo recording) 13 Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy 14 Deep In The Heart Of Texas 15 Alice Blue Gown 16 Lavender Blue 17 Belinda 18 Ka-Ding Dong 19 Cha Cha Doo 20 Fractured 21 Cuernavaca Choo Choo 22 Tallahassee Lassie (alt. stereo recording) 23 Walk To The Moon 24 Opportunity 25 You Know 26 Deep In The Heart Of Texas (alt. stereo recording)
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