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Preston Epps

Preston Epps (born 1931 in Oakland, CA) still performs in clubs in Southern California and the Southwest region of the United States. A one-hit-wonder, Epps scored a number 14 pop hit in 1959 with "Bongo Rock," but subsequent singles felled on deaf ears. He learned to play the bongos and other percussion instruments during the Korean War while stationed in Okinawa.

When his duties ended, he forsook Northern California for Southern Cali, sustaining himself by working odd jobs; he hung around the emerging beatnik, hippie set by frequenting coffeehouses, and pounding the skins for the appreciative heads. DJ Art Laboe discovered Epps at a cozy, laid-back coffeehouse and signed him to his newly founded Original Sound Records. Epps' "Bongo Rock" became the label's first hit; Laboe released a second single, "Bongo, Bongo, Bongo," in 1960 that slotted 64 positions lower.

Epps first album, Bongo Bongo Bongo, dropped in 1960 on the heels of the second single and did okay. However, subsequent singles, "Bongo in the Congo," "Bongo Rocket," "Bongo Boogie," "Flamenco Bongo," "Mr. Bongo," "Bongo Shuffle," and other Bongo derivatives failed to generate any interest. Two more albums, Bongola (1961) and Surfin' Bongos (1962), went unnoticed; you can find select recordings by Epps on numerous vinyl and CD compilations. The Incredible Bongo Band updated "Bongo Rock" (Epps co-wrote the instrumental with Arthur Egnoian, a pseudonym for Arthur Laboe) and rode it to number 73 in 1973.

Epps played a bongo player in the movie Girl In Gold Boots, released in 1969. The flick was about a draft-dodger, a drifter, and his wannabe-dancer girlfriend; all get implicated in a murder centering around drugs, sex, and rock & roll in the late '60s. Epps has done extensive session work, including an appearance on Gypsys' debut LP for Metromedia Records. Still active, Epps plays a variety of clubs in Southern California including Monteleone's West, the Lozano Restaurant, and the Atlas Supper Club. ~ Andrew Hamilton
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: The Golden Age Of American Rock 'N' Roll, Vol. 1

1. Denise

2. Sally Go Round the Roses

3. Mule Skinner Blues

4. Sixteen Candles

5. Pretty Little Angel Eyes

6. I Love How You Love Me

7. The Big Hurt

8. A Thousand Stars

9. Rockin' Robin

10. Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine)

11. Bongo Rock

12. Tossin' And Turnin'

13. My True Story

14. Stranded In The Jungle

15. Angel Baby

16. Party Lights

17. When We Get Married

18. Cindy's Birthday

19. Let's Dance

20. Who's That Knocking

21. Love You So

22. Cherry Pie

23. Since I Don't Have You

25. Since I Fell For You

26. Image Of A Girl

27. Smoky Places

29. A Little Bit Of Soap

30. Eddie My Love

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