Hambone has left the building, but stays in our hearts

By on May 12, 2022

By Toni Cole | Outer Banks Voice  

DJ Hambone at the Jolly Roger. (Courtesy of the Jolly Roger)

DJ Hambone knew how to make people feel safe and courageous enough to get on the stage and make a memory for themselves, their friends, and family. The most memorable DJ and Karaoke Host to ever grace the stage in the Outer Banks passed away last week.

I might also say, without question, that he was the most memorable karaoke host in the nation. When Johnny Cash sang “I’ve Been Everywhere,” he may have had him in mind. And it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Hambone knew Johnny personally. He crossed paths with many famous entertainers in his sixty-five years, but that isn’t how he achieved notoriety across the country. Let me tell you what I know of his story.

Born Hampton Wolfe in 1956 in Portsmouth, Virginia, and later serving in the Navy, he spent a year or two in Florida, and returned to Virginia where he honed his musical chops with a stint as the house sound tech for “Bill Deal and the Rhondels” in their club.

It was not surprising, then, when as a lifetime Harley Davidson biker, he would join the Patriot Guard Riders who “have an unwavering respect for Fallen Military Heroes, First Responders and honorably discharged Veterans.” These military bikers serve as a solemn motorcycle escort for funerals in the Outer Banks. You would see Hambone leading the escort with flags donning his Harley at just about every funeral for these men and women. Paul Pendergrass, a local carpenter, remembers seeing him at a funeral for a former member of the Eagles Club just recently.

Hambone often quietly and humbly hosted fundraisers for locals in need and took it as a mission to raise whatever he could — often hauling his mammoth 1980’s speakers to DJ for any folks who needed him. Let me tell you, he had those speakers since they were new, and they made enough noise to fill a stadium. I remember when he used to carry them around in an old ice cream delivery truck…no joke.

For quite a few years, Carol Ann Angelos, was fortunate enough for Hambone to make his karaoke home a permanent fixture in the Jolly Roger restaurant in Kill Devil Hills where he played his tunes seven days a week for nearly a decade. At a time when karaoke had been fading away in most big cities, he packed the house most every night.

I spoke with Carol Ann earlier this week, and she mentioned how much he helped others in need and how he was looking forward to her new expansion of the “Jolly” which included a new bar for him to host soon — and how heartbroken she and the staff were that he would not see it.

Carol Ann did mention that Hambone was quite a colorful character sometimes finding himself in a few uncomfortable situations. “He was more than worth every bit of the trouble,” she added with a wry smile.

Hambone was always busy with a new idea for his show, saying he wanted to keep it fresh so his local following would enjoy the show as well as the visitors. Vivian Santana who works in events and catering mentioned that she would leave work to unwind by dropping in to listen to the singers and finally made her way up to the stage to sing one evening. When she was finished, Hambone whispered, “Vivian, you have a great voice, but I think you might want to try a different song,” coaxing her to sing Etta James’ rendition of “At Last,” in which she shined. She added, “His smile was infectious and his heart bigger than most knew. I will miss him, his laughs, his hugs.”

Here is why I mentioned his national acclaim. Many people had a tradition of visiting our beaches annually, making sure they stop in to see Hambone. Often, he announced their names when they entered as if they were long-time friends. I saw him do this when I would go to sing a few tunes, myself.

If you got there at the beginning of his gig, you’d hear him singing George Strait or Elvis, maybe the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” while wearing a cowboy hat Alan Jackson gave him. These people came from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, California, Michigan, South Dakota, New York, New Jersey, and like Johnny Cash sang, “Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota, Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota …” They took home their memories of Hambone and how he made them feel like a star or made them laugh at their friends singing “YMCA.” He was “family” to them all.

Hampton Wolfe, who chose to call himself Hambone has left a space that can never be filled. He was kind, loving, quirky, headstrong, even a bit difficult at times, but for me, he was my dear friend whom I had the pleasure of witnessing him bring joy to so many.

So, to everyone who loves him, find a place to be “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” and raise a glass to the master.


Here is a link to a gofundme account: Please help our HAMBONE fund, AKA my Amazing dad

 

 

 



NOTICE OF PUBLIC MEETING TO REVIEW PLANS FOR AN OUTER BANKS EVENT CENTER
County Dare, North Carolina
Dare County Tourism Board

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Visitors Bureau will hold a public meeting to review the plans for an Outer Banks Event Center. The meeting will take place on Monday, June 6, 2022 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the Keeper’s Galley building at Haven on the Banks, 115 Dove Street, Nags Head North Carolina 27959.

Still in the conceptual phase, the Event Center is intended to provide suitable and flexible space for year-round events, concerts, sports, meetings, smaller tradeshows, galas and any number of other uses. Learn more about the benefits for visitors and residents and how the Event Center is planned to complement the new Soundside boardwalk that is being designed.

Staff will be on hand to answer any questions. For additional information, please visit our Event Center FAQ page.


 



Comments

  • Dale Smith

    A Poker Run fundraiser/Memorial is set for Saturday May 21st at Jolly Roger. Registration starts at 8:30 and the Memorial around 1:30. It is open to everyone, bikes or cars

    Thursday, May 12 @ 3:47 pm
  • Chris

    Hambone was the best! He did Karaoke all over Hatteras island. He will definitely be forever missed. ❤️

    Thursday, May 12 @ 4:33 pm
  • Jojo

    A great article that captured part of the
    essence of him… thankyou !!!

    Thursday, May 12 @ 7:43 pm
  • Teresa Reed

    My heart is broken, he sure was a good man and could put on a heck of a karaoke party! I met him many years ago at Barry’s Walnut Island Restaurant and Bar! He would say come on youngin, get up here and sing for us! Eventually during his show he would talk me into it! We shared many conversations and stories of times and would reminisce of the good ole days of the Islands before this or that!! He will be missed by so many lives he touched! Thank you Hambone for encouraging me to share my talent and also for being a wonderful friend! We will never forget you and your smiling face behind the lights on the stage of your successful entertainer career here on the Islands! You were DJing the weekend I met my soon to be husband at the time! I remember I told him if he packed the bar out the next night I would go on a date with him!! Well.. you said let’s see what he’s got?!!!! There wasn’t an empty seat in the house and standing room was elbow to elbow! I recall you said, you better marry this guy!!! Well I did and we loved to still go to Jolly’s when we could to see you and chat it up like no time had passed by at all! You will forever be in our hearts and on our minds! Sending love to all the close friends and family! Prayers of comfort as we are all on limited time! He would be sure to say, make it count! 🙏🥲

    Friday, May 13 @ 12:06 am
  • David Buffalo dyal

    He was a great friend we spent a lot of time together usually closed the jolly Rodgers with us singing Elvira witch we did well together will always miss him but never forget him RIP my friend

    Friday, May 13 @ 6:29 pm
  • Leisa Marshall

    This was heart breaking ! Its been so many years of knowing him and looked forward to seeing him everytime we visited the OBX! Will definitely not be the same at all!! Prayers to his family !

    Friday, May 13 @ 7:11 pm
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