Monday, April 4, 2011

Preston Epps - Blue Bongo

Preston Epps learned to play percussion instruments, including the bongos, while he was stationed in Okinawa during the Korean War. After his tour of duty he settled in Southern California, playing in coffee shops and working odd jobs. Art Laboe, a local disc jockey, signed him to Original Sound Records, which released his single "Bongo Rock" in 1959. The tune became a hit in the U.S., reaching #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 that year. The follow-up, "Bongo Bongo Bongo", reached #78 the following year. Original Sound released a full-length LP in 1960, which reached #35 on the Billboard 200. However, further bongo-themed singles, including "Bongo in the Congo", "Bongo Rocket", "Bootlace Bongo", "Bongo Boogie", "Flamenco Bongo", "Mr. Bongo", and "Bongo Shuffle", did not result in any further success.
Epps reappeared in 1969 as a bongo player in the film Girl in Gold Boots. He continued on as a session musician in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1973, the Incredible Bongo Band covered "Bongo Rock" and released it as a single.
Epps continued playing in clubs in Southern California into the 1990s.
From 1961, here is Blue Bongo.

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