1964 Freddy Cannon – Abigail Beecher
Freddy Picariello grew up near Boston. He joined several local bands and sang and played rhythm guitar. He started his own band, Freddy Karmon & the Hurricanes, and began appearing regularly on a local television dance show, Boston Ballroom. Local disk jockey Jack McDermott signed up to manage Freddy.
Freddy’s mother was an amateur songwriter, and she presented Freddy with a poem she had written. Freddy recorded a demo of the song entitled Rock and Roll Baby. Jack took the recording and Freddy to producers Bob Crewe and Frank Slay. In exchange for two-thirds of the royalties, the pair rearranged the song, changed the lyrics, and produced a new recording: Tallahassee Lassie.
The new recording did not interest any record companies until Dick Clark heard it. Dick had a financial interest in Swan Records and suggested that the label could release the record with a few overdubs: a big bass drum sound, hand claps, and Freddy’s cries of “whoo!” at a few places in the song.
The result was a hit record that peaked at #6 on the Hot 100 and #13 on the R&B chart in 1959.
Freddy released four to six more singles each year from 1959 to 1963, and five of the singles reached the top forty on the Hot 100.
When the hits slowed down to a crawl, Freddy moved to Warner Brothers Records in 1963. The next year, he snuck back onto the charts just as the British Invasion began. Frank produced his ode to Abigail Beecher, and the single peaked at #16 on the Hot 100.
Freddy only reached the Hot 100 three more times after that hit, but he continued to tour extensively, especially in the UK and Europe. He also holds the record for the most appearances on American Bandstand: he appeared on the show 110 times!
Freddy created The Svengoolie Stomp in 2016 for the host of the MeTV late-night horror show. The single may not have charted, but it shows up periodically on Svengoolie’s show and during many of Svengoolie’s public appearances.
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