We are sad to report the passing of the great Hamilton Bohannon, at age 78.
Bohannon moved from his native Georgia to Detroit as a young man to perform as a drummer in a teenage Stevie Wonder’s touring band. It led to a job at Motown, leading the touring musicians for many of the label’s biggest artists in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s, including The Temptations, Marvin Gaye and The Supremes. He also wrote for Gaye and other artists, during his stay at Motown.
Bohannon fronted his own musical act in the 1970’s and released a series of albums that created, for him, a following in the developing dance and disco communities. His first major hit was “Foot Stompin’ Music” in 1975 and the international smash “Disco Stomp.” But it was his move to Mercury Records later in the decade that led to the peak of his recording success. “Let’s Start The Dance” became an across-the-board smash and one of the most iconic songs of the disco era. He also produced other artists during this period, including legendary Detroit singer Carolyn Crawford.
In the 1980’s, Bohannon continued his success with his own label, working both as an artist and as a producer. And with the rise of the hip-hop era, his songs found new life. Their infectious beats and big sound became the sampled foundation for several hip-hop songs by countless artists as Snoop Dogg, Digable Planets, and Jay Z. He also fulfilled many fathers’ dream, working with his son, Hamilton Bohannon II, and, in an ultimate honor, had a street named after him in his birth town of Newnan, Georgia. The cause of Mr. Bohannon’s death has not been released, but arrangements are being made by his family at this time.