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Preston Epps
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    (July 19, 1930-May 9, 2019)
    Born in Mangum, Oklahoma
    Recorded the single ‘Bongo Rock’ (1959)
    He was a one-hit wonder.
    He seems to have tried every conceivable ‘bongo’ idea in pursuit of that second hit: follow-ups included ‘Bongo, Bongo, Bongo,’ ‘Mr. Bongo,’ ‘Bongo Shuffle,’ ‘Hully Gully Bongo,’ ‘Bongo in the Congo,’ ‘Bongo Rocket,’ ‘Bongo Hop,’ ‘Bongo Boogie,’ ‘Flamenco Bongo,’ ‘Bongo Waltz,’ ‘Bongo Express’ and ‘Bongo Rock ’65.’
    He appeared (as a bongo player, of course) in Ted V. Mikels’ awful film ‘Girl in Gold Boots,’ where he was listed in the opening credits as ‘that Bongo Rock man.’
    He learned to play bongos while serving with the US Army in Okinawa.
    He was discovered playing in a coffee house by disc jockey Art Laboe, who signed him to the newly formed Original Sound label.
    ’Bongo Rock’ was the first hit single for Original Sound, making the pop Top 20 and earning a gold record.
    He played percussion on the Penguins’ doo-wop classic ‘Earth Angel.’
    He toured with Count Basie, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke and Little Richard.

Credit: C. Fishel

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