A couple of months ago I received an email out of the blue from a guy who said he had, in his possession, an EXTREMELY rare acetate pressing of Freddy Cannon's very first record.
The record in question was NOT "Tallahassee Lassie", Freddy's first hit ... although ultimately it would grow to be!
No, this was the ORIGINAL version of "Tallahassee Lassie" that Freddy's Mom wrote back in 1958. At the time the song was called "She's My Rock And Roll Baby" and, at the recommendation of his Mother (who actually paid for the recording session), Freddy (then billing himself as Freddy Karmen and the Hurricanes) went into a small studio called Ace Recording Studio in Boston and cut the track.
Freddy tells the whole fascinating story of that session in his autobiography, "Where The Action Is", written with Biographer of the Music Stars (and our FH Buddy) Mark Bego, released a few years ago. (You can pick up YOUR copy here): Click here: Where the Action Is!: Freddy Cannon, Mark Bego, Dick Clark: 9781462639731: Amazon.com: Books
Ultimately Freddy took the recording to infamous Boston Disc Jockey Arnie "Woo Woo" Ginsburg ... who played it for Frank Slay (of Swan Records) and song-writer / producer extraordinaire, the late Bob Crewe.
They liked the song enough to rewrite the lyrics ... they left the middle exactly as Freddy's mother had written it ... and then flew Cannon out to New York to recut the track (with the brand new lyrics) as "Tallahassee Lassie" ... and the rest, as they say, is history.
Cannon's debut hit went all the way to #5 on the national charts ... and he followed that up with eight more Top 40 Hits between 1960 and 1965.
Freddy and I have gotten to be good friends through Forgotten Hits over the past several years ... during this time we've helped to promote numerous live appearances, the release of both his Christmas album and a couple of greatest hits compilations, let the world know about his EXCELLENT pencil drawings (and even helped to sell a few!), campaigned for his induction into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and just in general stayed in touch whenever the circumstances warranted it.
Freddy is one of those rare artists who owns all his own masters and, as such, has brokered all his own deals in the reissue market. He not only continues to sell out shows here in The States, but is ENORMOUSLY popular overseas as well ... after 55 years in show business, you'd figure this guy had pretty much seen it all ... but when I approached him about this recent find, he was flabbergasted! He didn't think a copy of this early recording still existed ... and acknowledged it as being a major find.
Over the next couple of months I acted as the liaison between Eric Lee, who had come into possession of this rare pressing, and Freddy Cannon, the then 18-year old artist whose voice was preserved on this very fragile, one-of-a-kind lacquer-coated disk.
I am happy to report that after quite a bit of negotiating this pressing is back in the hands of its rightful owner ... and Freddy couldn't be happier!
He told me:
WOW! KENT, IT BROUGHT ME BACK TO A GREAT TIME.
THIS IS AND WAS HISTORY.
I KNOW YOU RUN TONS OF STORIES BUT THIS IS HISTORY!
FREDDY BOOM BOOM CANNON
I honestly think we made Freddy's year!
So it came as a GREAT shock to me to find out that last week Cannon was in the hospital having quadruple by-pass heart surgery!!! (Talk about your ultimate highs and lows!!!)
Forgotten Hits Reader and regular contributor Tom Cuddy sent me this email last week, updating me on Freddy's status ...
I’m so happy to let you and FH readers know that Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon is doing “great” after undergoing open heart surgery this past week in Los Angeles.
Freddy had not been feeling well in the last couple of months. He was out of breath much of time and his energy level was not as high as usual. He could not walk very long without having to stop and catch his breath.
He saw a lung specialist last month and the doctor said he had some lung damage, even though he stopped smoking over 30-plus years ago. The doctor was devising a treatment regiment for Freddy about the time he was scheduled to fly to the east coast to do a rock and roll revival show for Bowzer (Jon Bauman) as part of a performance at the New York State Fair with Gene Chandler and others.
For the first time in his life, Freddy needed a wheel chair to travel through the airports. When he arrived at sound check he was having breathing problems and Bowzer, who was very supportive and understanding told him: "If you’re not feeling strong enough, don’t perform. We’ll tell the audience about your medical situation and you can come out and take a bow, but no performance."
Freddy said he didn’t want to let the audience down, so they decided that rather than the six songs he was scheduled to perform, he would play it by ear. After each song he would decide whether he had enough breath and energy to do another.
Bowzer, in his introduction of Freddy, told the audience what was going on with Freddy’s health, and they gave him a standing ovation when he walked out.
Here’s a link to coverage of Bowzer’s concert.
Freddy gave it his best, but ran out of breath after three songs and had to leave the stage. He flew back to L.A. the next day and saw a heart specialist upon his return. The doctor informed him, after tests, that he need surgery right away. They would need to do a quadruple bypass.
The surgery was a huge success and Freddy’s wife and the kids were waiting for him in his hospital room upon completion of the heart surgery.
Freddy has had to cancel or postpone his dates scheduled over the next three months, but the doctor has told him that he should be able resume performing after his recuperation and at that time he should feel better than he’s felt in years.
Kent, if it’s cool with you, perhaps we can invite any FH readers who would like to send good wishes to Freddy to direct an e-mail to you at FH and then you can forward them to Freddy.
The singer who holds the record for the most performances on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, Freddy Cannon (110 times) will soon be rockin’ again, but first he has to catch his breath and rest up from surgery!
I think that's a GREAT idea, Tom ... and I know it'll cheer him up and brighten his spirits to hear from some of his friends.
So ... please drop me a line (just sent it to firstname.lastname@example.org) and we'll gather 'em up and sent 'em off to Freddy next week.
So good to hear he's doing better ... hang in there, Boom Boom, there are still a WHOLE lotta people out there who want to see you up there performing again!
Elvis, Freddy Cannon and his wife Jeanette in Vegas in 1974
Freddy with his close personal friend, Dick Clark.
Cannon appeared on "American Bandstand" more time than any other artist ...
110 appearances in all!!!
Join us tomorrow in Forgotten Hits for more on this astonishing find ...
Plus a look at the record itself ...
And a short snippet of each side ...
And then on Friday, Freddy tells the story of this landmark recording session in his own words.
It's all coming up ... EXCLUSIVELY in Forgotten Hits!