Two For Tuesday: Freddy Cannon

Freddy Picariello was born in Revere, Massachusetts and lived in nearby Lynn most of his early years. After graduating from Lynn Vocational High School, he made a couple of records, singing and playing rhythm guitar on “Cha-Cha-Do” by The Spindrifts and lead guitar on “Ka-Ding Dong” by The G-Clefs, which reached #24 on the Hot 100 in 1956.

Now married and with a child, he launched his solo career as Freddy Karmon with his backup band, The Hurricanes. His mother wrote the lyrics to a song called “Rock & Roll Baby.” He recorded a demo of the song, which was passed along to the songwriting team of Bob Crewe and Frank Slay. They rewrote the lyrics and changed the arrangement, the result being “Tallahassee Lassie.” The song came to the attention of Dick Clark, who was also part owner of Swan Records, who suggested some production changes and also that Freddy change his name to Freddy Cannon. One of the production changes was to emphasize the bass drum, earning Freddy the name Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon. The song was a hit in Boston and Philadelphia, and soon received national airplay. It peaked at #6 on the Hot 100 and #13 on the R&B Singles chart in 1959.

Freddy’s next Top 10 single was a rock version of the classic 1922 song “Way Down Yonder In New Orleans.” It reached #3 on the Hot 100 and #14 on the R&B Singles chart later in 1959.

After that, the highest Freddy charted was #28, until “Palisades Park” in 1962. Written by Chuck Barris of game-show fame, it was a tribute to New Jersey’s Palisades Amusement Park, which was advertised for years in DC Comics. The song reached #3 on the Hot 100 and #15 on the R&B Singles chart.

Freddy left Swan Records for Warner Brothers Records in 1963 and stayed with them until 1968. His highest-charting single on WB was 1965’s “Action,” which became the theme song for Where The Action Is, a Dick Clark-produced after-school TV show that featured Paul Revere and The Raiders as hosts. He has continued to perform and record, most recently in 2016, when he recorded “Svengoolie Stomp” with Chicago’s Rich Koz, who, as Svengoolie, hosts the Saturday night horror film on MeTV.

Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon, your Two for Tuesday, April 24, 2018. Maybe I should make it “THREE for Tuesday”…

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Two for Tuesday: Bobby Rydell

Robert Louis Ridarelli, better known as Bobby Rydell, was another product of Philadelphia. At the age of 8, he appeared on Paul Whiteman’s TV Teen Club and earned a spot with the cast for several years. He changed his name to Bobby Rydell and played with several bands in the Philadelphia area. He recorded several singles in 1959 that failed to chart before having his first hit, “Kissin’ Time,” which reached #11. His biggest-selling single, however, was “Wild One,” which reached #2 and earned him a gold record.

Later in 1960, he found successs again with a cover of “Volare,” which reached #4.

In 1963, Bobby played Hugo Peabody in the film adaptation of Bye Bye Birdie. In the play, Hugo wasn’t a speaking role, but one was written for him for the movie. His last major hit was 1964’s “Forget Him,” which reached #4.

Bobby continued to appear in nightclubs and in Las Vegas through the 1970’s and 1980’s, but his career was hampered by ABKCO Records, who owned the catalog of his hits from Cameo Records and refused to reissue them until 2005. Rydell got around that by recording his hits for K-Tel Records in 1995. He continues to perform and tour along with fellow Philadelphians Fabian and Frankie Avalon. In the stage play Grease and the movie adaptation, the high school is named Rydell High in his honor.

Bobby Rydell, your Two for Tuesday, April 17, 2018.

Two for Tuesday: Fabian

Fabian Forte was a lot like Frankie Avalon. Both were Italians from Philadelphia, both got their start on American Bandstand, and both had a film career as well as singing. He was discovered in 1957 by Bob Marcucci and Peter DeAngelis of Chancellor Records. Marcucci was at his friend’s house when Fabian’s father, a neighbor of the friend, had a heart attack. Marcucci spotted Fabian and gave him a business card, saying that if he was ever interested in a career in music to give him a call. Never mind if he couldn’t sing, Fabian had the looks. When his father died shortly after that, Fabian took Chancellor up on its offer.

His first record was “Shivers,” in 1958. Fabian thought it wasn’t a very good record, but it got some airplay in Philadelphia on R&B disc jockey Georgie Woods’ radio show and evidently was a minor hit in Chicago, though I can’t find it on any WJJD surveys from 1958. It was the record that brought Fabian to the attention of Dick Clark.

His lone #1 hit was “Tiger” in 1959, from his album Hold That Tiger!

Fabian has had a extenensive career in films and on television, including 1966’s Fireball 500 with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. He hasn’t enjoyed the same success as Avalon, but continues to perform.

Fabian, your Two for Tuesday, April 10, 2018.

Two For Tuesday: Annette Funicello

You knew I couldn’t do Frankie Avalon without tipping my hat to Annette Funicello, didn’t you?

As you probably know, Annette was one of the original Mouseketeers. She was the last one chosen and was picked by Mr. Disney himself after he saw her at the Hollywood Bowl in a recital of Swan Lake playing the Swan Queen. She proved to be one of the most popular members of the cast, soon receiving over 6000 letters a month, many presumably from lovelorn boys. In addition to participating in the Mouseketeer sketches and dance numbers, she was also featured in many of the serials on the show, including Walt Disney Presents: Annette with Richard Deacon.

Annette considered herself more of an actress and dancer than a singer, but she had a few singles, including a couple that reached the Top 10. Her best-selling single was “Tall Paul,” which reached #7 on the Hot 100 in early 1959. Here she’s helped by Dick Clark.

Her next, and last, Top 10 hit was “O Dio Mio,” which reached #10 in 1960.

Annette starrred with Frankie in several “beach party” movies for American International Pictures, starting with Beach Party in 1963. That first movie earned her a seven-year contract with American International, and was in five more through the end of her contract. She and Frankie were reunited in 1987’s Back To The Beach. She started suffering from episodes of dizziness and loss of balance as she and Frankie toured promoting the movie, and in 1992 announced that she had contracted multiple sclerosis. She lived with the disease for twenty years, finally succumbing to it in 2012 at the age of 70.

Annette Funicello, your Two for Tuesday, April 3, 2017.

Two For Tuesday: Frankie Avalon

Quick now: Who had the last #1 hit in the Fifties? The answer is, of course, Frankie Avalon, today’s featured artist.

I didn’t know this: Frankie played the trumpet, and sometimes played on his albums. He appeared in the Christmas episode of “The Honeymooners,” then part of The Jackie Gleason Show, in 1952 (he was born in 1940, so he was all of 12), playing the trumpet. His first movie role was a brief appearance in 1957’s Jamboree, where he played the trumpet and sang the song “Teacher’s Pet.” Another surprise: he was in a band with Bobby Rydell, “Rocco And The Saints,” when he was a teen, before fame and fortune fond him.

He charted with 31 hits between 1958 and 1962. His two biggest hits were from 1959, the first being “Venus,” which spent 5 weeks at #1. Here is a performance on Dick Clark’s Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show, after which Dick presents him with the Gold Record for the song.

His second #1 from 1959 was “Why,” the aforementioned last #1 of the Fifties. Here he is on a later edition of The Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show. Frankie lived in Philadelphia, so I guess it was easy for him to appear on the show.

Frankie had an extensive film career, including several films with Annette Funicello. He appeared in the movie Grease, where he sang “Beauty School Dropout” to a pink-haired Didi Conn.

He and his wife Kay have been married since 1963. They have eight children and ten grandchildren.

Frankie Avalon, your Two for Tuesday, March 27, 2018.