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Hamilton Bohannon

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Hamilton Bohannon
Birth nameHamilton Frederick Bohannon
Also known asBohannon
Born(1942-03-07)March 7, 1942
Newnan, Georgia, U.S.
DiedApril 24, 2020(2020-04-24) (aged 78)
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Years active1964–1990
Dakar/Brunswick Records
Mercury Records

Hamilton Frederick Bohannon (March 7, 1942 – April 24, 2020),[2] often credited and known professionally simply as Bohannon, was an American drummer, percussionist, band leader, songwriter, arranger, and record producer, who was one of the leading figures in 1970s funk and disco music.[3] He worked with Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, the Temptations, Wah Wah Watson, Ray Parker Jr., the Counts and Carolyn Crawford.

Life and career


He was born in Newnan, Georgia, and learned the drums at school. He began playing in local bands, one of which featured guitarist Jimi Hendrix, before graduating from Clark College with a degree in music and secondary education.[4][5] After a brief period as a schoolteacher, he was recruited in 1964 as drummer in 13-year-old Stevie Wonder's touring band. He moved to Detroit in 1967, where he was employed by Motown as the leader and arranger of Bohannon & The Motown Sound, who provided backing for many of the label's top acts on tour, including Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, the Temptations, Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Four Tops and others.[3][4]

When Motown moved from Detroit to Los Angeles, Bohannon stayed behind to form his own ensemble, featuring members of local band The Fabulous Counts and including such musicians as Ray Parker Jr. and Dennis Coffey.[5][6] He signed in 1972 with the Dakar label run by producer Carl Davis, and released his debut album Stop & Go in early 1973. This was followed by five more albums for the label over the next two years, on which he "perfected his formula of heavy, thudding bass accents and aggressive rhythms".[3] Although several of his tracks were club hits, he had limited chart success. His first hit single, in 1974, was "South African Man", which reached No. 78 on the Billboard R&B chart, but had more success in the UK, where it reached No. 22 on the UK Singles Chart. This was followed up in 1975 by "Foot Stompin Music" – his only record to reach the US Billboard Hot 100 – and "Disco Stomp", his biggest hit in the UK where it reached No. 6, and was later cited by Johnny Marr as a major influence on the Smiths’ song “How Soon Is Now?”[7][8]

In 1976, Bohannon signed with Mercury Records and two years later had one of his biggest successes with "Let’s Start the Dance", which reached No. 9 on the R&B chart[7] and No. 7 on the disco chart.[9] "Let's Start the Dance" featured singer Carolyn Crawford, whose subsequent albums Bohannon went on to produce. In 1981, a new mix of "Let's Start the Dance" was successful on the dance chart.[3] In 1980, he established Phase II Records,[6] and continued to have minor hits on the R&B chart for the next three years, using new vocalists Liz Lands and Altrinna Grayson.[7] He signed with MCA Records in 1984 and released several more albums.[3] His last album, It's Time to Jam, was issued on the South Bound label in 1990.[6]

Much of his music has been widely sampled, most notably on Chicago DJ/producer Paul Johnson's 1999 hit "Get Get Down" which heavily sampled Bohannon's "Me and the Gang". Other musicians who have used samples of his music include Jay Z, Digable Planets, and Snoop Dogg. His name was also repeatedly invoked in the Tom Tom Club song "Genius of Love". His composition "Ooh!" was included on Mary J. Blige's album Love & Life in 2003.[4]

In later years Bohannon produced a new singer, Governor, on Atlantic Records, as well as working on material with his son, Hamilton Bohannon II, and publishing an audiobook memoir of his early years in the music business, Bohannon Speaks from the Beginning.[4][6]

Bohannon was a devout Christian[4] and dedicated his album Dance Your Ass Off to "God, my master, savior and Jesus Christ". The album also included a disclaimer that "Dance Your Ass Off is not used in the sense of profanity."

In 2017, Peachtree Street in Newnan was renamed Bohannon Drive by the city council in his honor.[10]

He died on April 24, 2020, at his home in Atlanta at the age of 78.[2][11]



Studio albums

Label Year Title Catalog # Peak chart positions
US Pop
Dakar Records 1973 Stop & Go DK 76903
1974 Keep On Dancin' DK 76910 49
1975 Insides Out DK 76916 28
Bohannon DK 76917 21
1976 Dance Your Ass Off DK 76919 47
Gittin' Off DK 76921
Mercury Records 1977 Phase II SRM-1-1159 46
1978 On My Way SRM-1-3710
Summertime Groove SRM-1-3728 58 14 2
1979 Cut Loose SRM-1-3762 34
Too Hot to Hold SRM-1-3778
1980 Music in the Air SRM-1-3813 72
Phase II Records 1980 One Step Ahead JW 36867
1981 Going for Another One JW 37076
Alive JW 37699
1982 Bohannon Fever JW 38113
Compleat Records 1983 Make Your Body Move CPL-1-1003
The Bohanon Drive CPL-1-1005
MCA Records 1989 Here Comes Bohannon MCA 42310
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

Compilation albums

Label Year Title Catalog #
Southbound 1990 It's Time to Jam SEW 033

Alternative name album releases

Label Year Title Catalog # Original title
Brunswick Records 1974 South African Man 640 050 Keep On Dancin'
1975 The Mighty Bohannon 840 073 Bohannon


Year Single Chart positions
US Pop
1973 "Stop & Go"
1974 "South African Man" 78 22
1975 "Foot Stompin Music" 98 39 23
"Disco Stomp" 62 6
"Happy Feeling" 49
1976 "Bohannon's Beat" 65 58[A]
1977 "Bohannon Disco Symphony" 67
1978 "Let's Start the Dance" 101 9 1 56
1979 "Me and the Gang" 82
"Cut Loose" 43
"The Groove Machine" 60
1980 "Baby I'm for Real" 54
"Throw Down the Groove" 59
"Dance, Dance, Dance All Night" 76
1981 "Don't Be Ashame to Call My Name" 54
"Goin' for Another One" 91
"Let's Start II Dance Again"
feat. Dr. Perri Johnson
41 49
1982 "I've Got the Dance Fever" 72
"The Party Train" 69
1983 "Make Your Body Move" 63
"Wake Up" 87
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.


  1. ^ Chart position is from the official UK "Breakers List".
  1. ^ Hamilton Bohhanon the guardian.com. Retrieved 8 February 2023
  2. ^ a b Neely, Clay. "Music legend Bohannon passes". Newnan Times-Herald. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e Wynn, Ron. "Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Official biography at HNA Records". Archived from the original on April 5, 2009. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  5. ^ a b Smallwood, David E. (January 26, 1978). "Bohannon emerges as disco heavyweight". Jet. pp. 62 & 65. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d "Biography". Soulwalking.com. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-1995. Record Research. p. 38. ISBN 0-89820-115-2.
  8. ^ a b Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. p. 92. ISBN 0-00-717931-6.
  9. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 38.
  10. ^ "Peachtree Street becomes Hamilton Bohannon Drive this week". Newnan Times-Herald. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  11. ^ Daniel E., Slotnik (May 2, 2020). "Hamilton Bohannon, Driving Disco Drummer, Dies at 78". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 3, 2020. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
  12. ^ a b "Hamilton Bohannon - Awards". AllMusic. Archived from the original on April 22, 2016. Retrieved January 22, 2022.
  13. ^ "RPM Top 15 Dance Albums - September 23, 1978" (PDF).
  14. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 68. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
  15. ^ "RPM Disco 30 - October 28, 1978" (PDF).