Ammon Tharpe, better known as Fat Ammons, was a talented musician and Beach bandleader who helped to popularize the genre.
Ammons was born in South Carolina and began playing the piano at a young age.
He eventually formed the Fat Ammons Beach Group, which became a popular local attraction.
The band was known for its tight instrumentals and catchy melodies, and they quickly gained a following among beach music fans up and down the Carolina Coasts and Virginia..
In addition to Ammons, the beach performers playing classic soul style music featured several other notable musicians, including Bill Deal, who went on to have a successful solo career.
The Fat Ammons Beach Band continued to tour and perform throughout the 1970s, helping to keep Carolina Shagging music alive during a period when it was not as popular as it once had been.
Thanks in part to the Fat Ammons beach band music has experienced a resurgence in recent years, and the genre is now more popular than ever.
Here’s How The Story Goes
Ammon Tharp was one of the original members of the group, Bill Deal & the Rhondels,
Tharp, who lived in Virginia, passed away in 2017 at age 75.
Fat Ammon Tharp and Bill Deal started playing soul style music off and on casually together and formed the Rhondels as teenagers in South Hampton Roads.
I’ve Been Hurt
Bill played keyboards and Tharp was on drums. They added brass – and applied their Beach feel to songs such as “I’ve Been Hurt;” “What Kind of Fool Do You Think I Am;” and “May I.”
Here is a great video of Ammons and some of the well known members of the band doing a medley of these super hits. What a treat!
The Rhondels disbanded the beach group in 1975 and were inducted into Norfolk’s Legends of Music Walk of Fame in 2003 thanks to musicians like Fat Ammons.
The Boss Springsteen Joins In
Here is a rough video of Bruce Springsteen on stage doing Bill Deal and and his famous beach music group The Rhondels’ May I on stage with various musicians backing him up as he performs the classic hit in the same style made famous by The Rhondels.
Bruce had quite a few connections in Tidewater Virginia.
After Bill Deal & The Rhondels, Tharp started Fat Ammon’s Band, playing from 1978 into the 1990s.
Ammon Tharp when not performing was quiet off stage but his talent came through loud and clear on stage.
This link take you to an extraordinary site HeyBabyDays that lists over 70 of the members of Bill Deal and The Rhondels and many Fat Ammons and there are a lot over the years.
The Fat Ammons Band – A great memory. The music lives on. It Will Stand.
It’s great to have you drop by the site. Thank you! If you enjoy Beach tunes or classic soul check out our other posts about this unique style of music.