Preston Epps Biography

1931, Oakland, California, USA. Epps may be the only musician who has had a Top 20 hit based on bongo drum playing. He learned how to play the instrument in the early 50s and, while supporting himself with odd jobs, he played his drums in then-popular coffee houses in the Los Angeles area. He was discovered by Los Angeles disc jockey Art Laboe, who also ran the Original Sound record label. They recorded Epps’ self-penned ‘Bongo Rock’ and it was released on Laboe’s label, eventually reaching number 14 in the USA in 1959. One follow-up, ‘Bongo Bongo Bongo’, also charted, in 1960, as did an album of the same title. Epps continued to record bongo-related music until the mid-60s but was unable to follow up his biggest hit with another. (A remake of the song by the Incredible Bongo Band did chart in 1973.) Epps later toured and recorded with Johnny Otis in the 70s.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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