Freddy Cannon

Freddy Cannon

Frederico Anthony Picariello was born in Swampscott, Massachusetts, on December 4, 1940.  His dad was a truck driver by day, a band leading trumpeter by night.  Frederico taught himself to play guitar at age 16 and formed a group called the The Hurricanes that gained popularity in the Boston area. By 1956 he was a session musician, playing guitar behind The G-Clefs on their hit, “Ka-Ding Dong.”

One afternoon Frederico’s mother handed him a poem she had written called “Rock ‘n’ Roll Baby.”  He set it to music and cut a demo that was heard by producer Bob Crewe and songwriter Frank Slay.  Crewe and Slay revised the lyrics, retitled the tune “Tallahassee Lassie” and had Frederico record an all-new version.   When played for American Bandstand‘s Dick Clark, the TV host suggested they add hand claps, a few shouts of “woo” and extend the bridge which begins with “she dances to the bop.”  Rather than fully re-record the track, the additions were simply dubbed in and the bridge doubled by copying what existed and editing it in.

With the help of WMEX’s Arnie “Woo Woo” Ginsberg, “Tallahassee Lassie” broke in Boston and soared to #6 nationally in June, 1959.  Its mix of a powerhouse vocal, pounding piano, raunchy guitar, infectious hand claps and exhilarating “woo’s” set the tone for the nearly two dozen hits to follow.  The solid gold revival of a black vaudeville song from 1922, “Way Down Yonder In New Orleans,” gave Freddy his second million seller also in 1959.  All were credited to Freddy Cannon, a stage name invented by the owner of Philadelphia’s Swan label, which released Freddy’s records through 1963.  Dick Clark, who owned a piece of Swan, helped out by featuring Cannon on American Bandstand numerous times, more than any other performer.  Every song recorded was a rocker, from “Okefenokee,” “Transistor Sister,” “Jump Over,” “Chattanooga Shoeshine Boy,” “Buzz-Buzz-A-Diddle-It,”  “Abigail Beecher,” “Action” and “Palisades Park” that was composed by future Gong Show host Chuck Barris.  Their collective efforts inspired Freddy’s nickname: “Boom Boom.” Over two dozen years, Freddy landed on the Hit Parade 23 times.

Freddy calls Tarzana, California home and In recent years, he has concentrated on being a tireless live performer at Disneyland, Madison Square Garden and elsewhere.

Freddy Cannon was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2008.

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