H-Bomb Ferguson – Rock, H-Bomb, Rock

5th December 2021 · 1950s, 1951, Music, Rock'n'Roll

Back before rock’n’roll got given its name, and nuclear war was a clear and present danger, a flamboyant fellow called H-Bomb Ferguson exploded on to the music scene.

He had the classic background in the racially segregated South: the 11th of 12th children of a Baptist preacher, learning the piano as a small child and failing to heed his dad’s instructions to stick to sacred music.

By the age of 19 he was on the road with Joe Liggins & The Honeydrippers. When they moved to New York he got himself a gig as a piano-playing blues shouter in Harlem’s Baby Grand Club, billed as The Cobra Kid.

Modelling his stage moves on the outrageous antics of Wynonie Harris (the inspiration for Elvis) he released his first records under his birth name of Bob Ferguson.

There followed a string of singles like this 1951 banger – the B-side of a song called I Love My Baby – defining the early rock’n’roll sound of rollicking piano, squealing sax and thumping beats.

H-Bomb became a familiar figure at blues festivals in Britain and Europe as late as the 1990s, grabbing attention not just with his songs but his multicoloured fright wigs.

Although he released enough singles for a Best Of compilation, and even had a documentary made about his career, he didn’t release his debut album (Wiggin’ Out) until 1993, backed by a young band called The Medicine Men.

He died in 2006 in Cincinatti, at the age of 77.