No oldies collection would be complete without Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon’s thrilling “Palisades Park”, with its carnival sound effects, swooping organ, relentless driving beat, and, of course, Freddy’s inimitable holler. Written by Chuck Barris (of Gong Show fame), and based on what was then one of New Jersey’s most popular amusement parks, the song is an inarguable highlight of the pre-Beatles sixties.
With this song and his other Top Ten smashes, such as “Tallahassee Lassie,” and “Way Down Yonder In New Orleans,” Freddy became a big star in the 60s and he also holds the record for the most appearances on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand – 115, to be exact.
Born Frederick Picariello on December 4, 1940, in Revere, Massachusetts, he grew up in Lynn, a North Boston suburb. By 16, he had taught himself how to play the guitar and formed a small combo – the Hurricanes, using his father’s stage name Fred Carmen. Drawing his inspiration from Little Richard, he began using whoos and a strained delivery. As the popularity of the Hurricanes spread locally. Boston deejay Jack McDermott noticed and signed Cannon to a managerial contract. He was particuarly impressed Freddy’s performance of “Tallahassie Lassie”. They shopped the tune around and a few months later, played it for a New Jersey deejay that thought it was great. They offered it to Philadelphia based Swan Records, partially owned by Dick Clark. Clark liked the song, but suggested the vocal bridge be repeated. Clark’s instinct’s were right. They spliced a copy of the bridge on the end, and that’s the way the record was released.
When, in the summer of 1959, “Tallahassee Lassie” hit the Top Ten, 18 year old Freddy quit his truck driving job and commenced a musical career that would span 4 decades. In 1962, “Palisades Park” went to No. 3, and that same year, Freddy fronted labelmates Danny and the Juniors on “Twistin’ All Night Long”, which also featured Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons doing backup vocals.
Freddy moved to Warner Brothers in 1963, where he cut the million selling “Abigail Beecher” (the hip history teacher) which went to No. 16 by February 1964. He then cut “Where The Action Is” with top L.A. session men Hal Blaine, Leon Russell, James Burton, Glen Campbell, and David Gates — a far cry from the simpler fare of his Swan days. In early 1966 Cannon recorded “The Dedication Song” which would be his last chart hit for fifteen years.
Cannon toured internationally during the mid-60s and remained a major performer overseas. In the 70s, he became a promotional man for Buddah Records, but returned to the charts in 1981 with “Lets Put the Fun Back in Rock ‘n’ Roll”, backed by the Belmonts.
He hit the concert trail soon after and has averaged 125-150 concerts annually across the world; including stops at Disneyland and Madison Square Garden, also working with Dick Clark whenever there was a Bandstand reunion.
Freddy Cannon is a true believer, a rocker to the bone, who puts his heart and infectious enthusiasm into his vocals and performances. Freddy’s irrepressible showmanship always brings his audience to their feet.
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