Rocker Freddy Cannon was born in the Boston suburb of Swampscott, Massachusetts. His father, a truck driver, was also a semi-professional musician, getting gigs in the Boston area with local bands playing his trumpet and singing. Freddy taught himself to play guitar, and after graduating high school in 1955 got a job playing guitar on a record by a local group called the Spindrifts, "Cha-Cha-Do". The record became a regional hit, and Freddy began getting more studio work, including playing the lead guitar on The G-Clefs' record "Ka-Ding Dong", which went to #24 on the Billboard national charts. Although he took a full-time job as a truck driver to support his family--he had married and had children--he didn't give up his musical career, and eventually formed a group called Freddy Karmon and the Hurrcanes, which began to make a name for itself in the Boston area. His appearances on a Boston dance show led to his signing a management contract with a Boston DJ, and soon Freddy cut a demo record--written by his mother--called "Rock and Roll Baby". His manager took the demo to the well-respected producing team of Frank Slay and Bob Crewe (later of The Four Seasons fame). The pair saw possibilities in it, and after some tweaking they sent Freddy back into the studio to re-record the song, now called "Tallahassee Lassie". Philadelphia TV personality and record producer Dick Clark heard the song and, after suggesting some further tweaks to it, had Freddy re-record it and distributed the record on Swan Records, of which he was part-owner. The song's driving guitar solo, pounding bass drums and Cannon's shouts and cries of "Whoo!" made the song a major hit, hitting the #6 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959.
With his name now changed to Freddy Cannon--at the suggestion of the record company's president--and dubbed "Boom Boom" because of his unrestrained, boisterous style of singing, he finally achieved his dream of becoming a singing star. He had numerous appearances on Clark's New American Bandstand 1965 (1952) show, and altogether he had 22 songs place on the Billboard Top 100 list over the years. His follow-up song, "Okeefeenokee", did disappointing business, only reaching #43, but his next song, "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans", was one of his biggest hits, going gold and shooting to #3. He toured the US and Britain. He continued to have chart hits, although no blockbusters, until 1962, when he came out with his best-known song and his biggest hit, the Chuck Barris-written "Palisades Park", about a famous New Jersey amusement park.
He continued to tour and record but his career faded somewhat until 1965, when he recorded the song "Action", which was the theme song for the Dick Clark-produced TV series Where the Action Is (1965). He also appeared in a few movies, in such teen-themed vehicles as Just for Fun (1963) and Village of the Giants (1965).
He left Swan Records and signed with Warner Bros. Records, and after leaving them in 1967 he recorded for various labels. In the 1970s he was working for Buddah Records, both as a performer and promotions man. He kept busy with recording and touring in rock-n-roll revival shows, and in 1982 made an appearance in the H.B. Halicki film The Junkman (1982).
He lives in Tarzana, California (where he is honorary fire chief) and continues to tour.
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