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.
learned to play the guitar as a boy and in high school formed a band
Singing vocals, he emulated the hard-driving style of singing star, Little Richard. Picariello signed with Swan Records in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a recording studio in which music promoter Dick Clark had an interest, and who brought him national exposure through numerous appearances on the television program, American Bandstand.
In March 1960 Cannon's album, The Explosive Freddy Cannon, gave him the distinction of being the first rock and roll singer to have a #1 album in the UK, beating Elvis Presley, who had been the more likely contender for that honour.
A resident of Tarzana, California, Cannon continues to put on performances at assorted concert venues.
50s, 60s Hits
Last night I took a walk after dark
A swingin' place called Palasades Park
To have some fun and see what I could see
That's where the girls are
I took a ride on a shoot-dee-shoot
The girl I sat beside was awful cute
And when we stopped she was holding hands with me
My heart was flying
Up like a rocket ship
Down like a roller coaster
Fast like the loop-dee-loop
And around like a merry-go-round
We ate and ate at a hot dog stand
We danced around to a rockin' band
And when I could
I gave that girl a hug in the Tunnel Of Love
You'll never know how great a kiss can feel
When you're stopped at the top of a ferris wheel
When I fell in love
Down at Palasades Park
well she comes from tallahassee
she's got a hi-fi chassis
maybe looks a little sassy
but to me she's real classy
yeah my tallahassee lassie down in f-l-a
well she dances to the drag, the cha-cha, rag and mop
stomping to the shag, rocks the bunny hop ooh ooh ooh ooh
she dances to the rock, she dances to the stroll
she dances to the walk, she can rock and roll
she's my tallahassee lassie yeah my tallahassee lassie
she's my tallahassee lassie down in f-l-a
(fade while singing come on baby come on sugar come on honey)