Born Frederick Anthony Picariello in Revere, Massachusetts in 1940, Freddie "Boom Boom" Cannon grew up in the North Boston suburb of Lynn and learned to play guitar as a boy.
His interest in music came from his parents; his dad played trumpet, sang, and fronted local combos as Freddy Karmon while his mother was an amateur songwriter. In fact, his mother wrote his big hit "Tallahassee Lassie."
In high school, Freddy played rhythm guitar and sang with a group called the Spindrifts. He then formed another band, Freddy Karmon & the Hurricanes. He also drove a truck after school, always coming home in time to watch Dick Clark's American Bandstand every afternoon.
One afternoon, he arrived home and his mother told him to grab his guitar; she had written a poem that she wanted Freddy to set to music. The poem was called "Rock and Roll Baby," which Freddy put to a stomping, Chuck Berry beat and three-chord Rock & Roll progression. A demo of the song made its way to indie producer Bob Crewe and his partner Frank Slay.
Slay and Crewe rewrote the tune's verses and had Freddy Karmon & the Hurricanes go into a Boston studio and cut the new version as "Tallahassee Lassie." It was the first of 22 songs which appeared on the billboard charts for Cannon.
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Picariello signed a recording contract with Swan Records, a recording studio partly owned by Dick Clark of American Bandstand. Clark brought Picariello national exposure through numerous appearances on Clark’s TV show. Cannon holds the record for most appearances by a performer on Bandstand - 110. He and Clark continued to collaborate on Bandstand reunion concerts long after the TV show ended.
By 1959, Picariello was singing using the stage name, Freddy Cannon. He was also called “boom boom” because of his thundering musical renditions and the “Cannon” name. From 1959 through the early 60s, Cannon had two other Top Ten hits, "Palisades Park" and "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans."
On June 24, 1966, Cannon played himself and performed one of his own songs during the final episode of the teen soap opera “Never Too Young.” The role of Cannon was played by David Julian Hirsh in George Clooney’s 2003 film, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.