Freddy Cannon to headline rock and doo wop showcase at F.M. Kirby Center
When rock ‘n’ roll was young, Joe Nardone & The All Stars backed up Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon at Sans Souci Park in Hanover Township.
That was June 29, 1962.
Fifty-five years later, Nardone is promoting a rock and doo wop showcase that features the legendary singer of “Tallahassee Lassie” and “Palisades Park” among other well known acts from his era of popular music.
Solid Gold Party will start at 7 p.m. May 6 at the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre and will feature Cannon, 76, along with Gary U.S. Bonds, The Marcels, Shirley Alston Reeves and a super girl group comprised of members of The Exciters, The Cookies, The Jaynetts, The Raindrops and Reparata and the Delrons.
Cannon, a Massachusetts native, said he was influenced by Big Joe Turner, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry.
“Those people made an impact on me,” Cannon said.
Although Tuner died before Cannon “got big,” Cannon got the opportunity to work with Diddley and Berry.
“Chuck Berry, to me, is bigger than Elvis Presley, bigger than The Beatles, bigger than anybody,” Cannon said. “Here’s a guy who was copied by everybody. Without the Chuck Berrys and the Big Joe Turners, you wouldn’t have rock ‘n’ roll music.”
Cannon released “Tallahassee Lassie” in 1959 and, over the career that followed, set industry precedents by making the first rock ‘n’ roll record to top the UK Albums Chart in 1960 with “The Explosive Freddy Cannon” and by being featured on “American Bandstand” 110 times, more than any other musician.
“I feel really honored that it did that well in England and Scotland and Ireland,” Cannon said of the album. “The people were wonderful to me. They loved this kind of music.”
Cannon, who has never strayed from his early rock ‘n’ roll style, said it’s important to him to be true to himself and not stray from what he does well or from the person he is.
“If I’m going to sing rock ‘n’ roll, I’m going to sing Freddy ‘Boom Boom’ Cannon rock ‘n’ roll music,” Cannon said. “When you come and see me you’re going to hear the roots of rock ‘n’ roll. As long as I’m alive, it won’t ever be forgotten.”
The rock legend infused his old-school technique into his latest work, an original song called the “Svengoolie Stomp,” which Cannon penned for MeTV horror and sci-fi program “Svengoolie.”
A classic horror-movie buff, citing films like “Frankenstein,” “Dracula” and “The Wolf Man,” Cannon watches “Svengoolie” regularly and is a fan of its host, Rich Koz, aka Svengoolie.
“One day my wife said to me, ‘If you like him so much, why don’t you write a song about this guy?’ ” Cannon said. The thing that came to my mind was a stomp, and I started to write what the show was all about.”
The show’s producer liked the song so much, he invited Cannon to Chicago to be on the show and shoot a video for “Svengoolie Stomp” in April of 2016.
Just over a year later, Cannon will leave his California home to rock Wilkes-Barre, and he’s excited to perform among other celebrated acts.
“A lot of the acts are classified as doo wop acts, and I’m different from them,” Cannon said. “It gives the show a little variety.”
Among his fellow performers, Cannon lauds Shirley Alston Reeves.
“Shirley and her group, the Shirelles, deserve high honors for what they’ve done over the years,” Cannon said. She is another legend. She puts on a great show.”
As far as the the 1962 Hanover Township performance with Joe Nardone & The All Stars, Cannon said he remembers it clearly.
“They did a terrific job backing me up,” Cannon said. “Joe is a nice guy. I didn’t know he was promoting the show. I’ll be glad to see him.”
The All Stars, at the time the house band at Sans Souci Park, often rehearsed with star acts during afternoons and acted as their backing band at night.
“Some artists were rough to deal with being ‘national’ stars and coming to Wilkes-Barre feeling superior to their amusement park surrounding,” Nardone said. “But not Freddy Cannon. He was very cordial and extremely friendly and got along with all of the members of my band and put on a great show.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or on Twitter @TimesLeaderMatt.
IF YOU GO
What: Solid Gold Party featuring Freddy ‘Boom Boom’ Cannon, Gary U.S. Bonds, The Marcels, Shirley Alston Reeves and more
Where: F.M. Kirby Center, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
When: 7 p.m. May 6. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
Ticket information: Tickets range from $29.50 to $49.50 and are available at the Kirby Center box office, online at kirbycenter.org and by phone at 570-826-1100.