Bob Hocko

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Bob Hocko is probably best-known as the lead singer of the Swamp Rats, the Pittsburgh-area band that recorded some ferocious garage rock on small labels in 1966 and 1967. While these were all cover versions,…
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Bob Hocko is probably best-known as the lead singer of the Swamp Rats, the Pittsburgh-area band that recorded some ferocious garage rock on small labels in 1966 and 1967. While these were all cover versions, the group did put a particularly manic and idiosyncratic spin on some of them, especially the hardest and fuzziest ones, like "Hey Joe," "Louie Louie," and "Psycho." Hocko actually didn't sing on the first Swamp Rats single ("Louie Louie"/"Hey Joe"), but he was in the lineup for everything else they recorded, usually taking lead vocals. In keeping with the tenor of most of the group's material, his scream-singing was usually pretty unhinged, though to good effect, particularly on "Psycho," which is actually a worthy revisiting of the already-crazed Sonics classic. He also wrote some original material for the band, like "Hey Freak" and the moody folk-rocker "I'm Going Home," though the group didn't release those songs at the time. They can be heard, however, on the Swamp Rats CD compilation Disco Still Sucks! (billed to Bob Hocko & the Swamp Rats), which combines material from their rare singles with several outtakes.

Prior to his stint in the Swamp Rats, Hocko had been in the Fantastic Deejays, a worthy though far more British Invasion pop-inclined Pittsburgh-area band that did some regional singles of their own in the mid-'60s. Though Hocko had been a drummer/singer in the Fantastic Deejays, with the Swamp Rats he would only sing on stage, although he did some drumming on their studio recordings. After the Swamp Rats disbanded in 1967, Hocko was part of the hard rock band Galactus, which put out an album in 1976. He died of lung cancer on October 16, 2003.