Thursday, February 03, 2005

Who wrote the song “Hang on Sloopy”?

Rob Fraim is a friend who puts out daily market factoids; They are usually rife with unusual and very amusing tidbits. His most recent missive was particularly interesting:

Rob:   "As a Friday Factoid, I noted that “Hang On Sloopy” is the official rock song of the state of Ohio. I then posed these questions for the trivia contest:

· Who wrote the song “Hang on Sloopy”?

· What was his band that had the hit with “Sloopy”?

· He had another minor rock hit. This song was also a modest success for a rock musician who shares an unusual physical characteristic with his also-a-rock-musician brother. What was the song and who are the two brothers?

Here are the answers that I had in mind – and that are correct (this was before the interesting twist):

 

Answers:

1. Rick Derringer wrote the song.

2. His band – out of Akron, Ohio – was The McCoys

3. Later on he wrote and recorded the song “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo.” This song was also a minor hit for Texas rocker and blues guitarist Johnny Winter. Johnny and his brother Edgar (remember “Free Ride” and “Frankenstein” in the 1970’s) are both albinos.

Some  side points. (Stick with me folks. I told you it this was long. And there’s more worth-reading stuff as you continue along – including our “important” section – a chance to do something good. So stand up, get another cup of coffee – or one of the foo-foo latte / cappuccino/ mocha foam spritzers that you big city guys drink, talk amongst yourself, and then crank up the reading again.)

My favorite version of “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo” was found on an Edgar Winter live album – “Roadwork – Edgar Winter’s White Trash.” Johnny had been off the music scene for a while due to heroin problems. It went like this on the album as I recall:

Edgar: “uhhh…people keep asking me….where’s your brother?”

<Crowd goes wild.>

Edgar: “Hey Johnny.”

Johnny: “Yea-aaah!”

Then he busted into “Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo.”

Further miscellaneous Johnny/Edgar tidbits:

•  Edgar could really sing his butt off. A huge range and a powerful voice. Anyone who only knows the “Frankenstein” and “Free Ride” radio stuff missed out.

•  I was in the seventh grade and somehow ended up with a Johnny Winter record album. (For all you youngsters, records were these black discs that weren’t compact and you had to put them on this thing with a needle and they sounded scratchy…) The album was mostly rock and roll, but there was one long cut – the old blues classic “It’s My Own Fault.” That was the first time that I had heard the blues – and it knocked…me….out. Thus began my lifelong love of the blues and a discovery of the blues masters who influenced latter-day rock oriented blues players. So I’ve got a soft spot for Johnny Winter for getting me started.

All right then. Back to business. Winner Number 1 in the trivia contest was Cody Willard of CL Willard Capital in New York City – an excellent fund manager and telecom expert who also writes for RealMoney.com. Cody was spot on the money with his answers and right in synch with way I had the answers reasoned out.

Now as noted though, an alternate approach to the questions came up and I’m awarding First Prize Number 2 to Thomas Neuhaus – top notch value manager at Investment Management of Virginia in
Richmond, VA. He took us down this path.

1. Bert Berns wrote “Hang on Sloopy.” (You see, as it turns out, Rick Derringer and Bert Berns co-wrote it. So this was correct.)

2. He had The McCoys right.

3. Berns also wrote “Twist and Shout”

4. And with all due respect to “Ferris Bueller” fans everywhere, “Twist and Shout” was a hit for the Isley Brothers long before the Beatles did it. Thus the “brothers” connection.

Although I’m not aware of any special physical characteristic that the Isleys had that would rival the Winter Brothers albinism (unless you count the evidently uncontrollable urge to “Shout!” or even “Twist and Shout” a lot) I was too fascinated by the route of this alternate answer train to quibble over that. Plus Thomas’ mention of Bert Berns lets me get on a soapbox and talk about Berns’ unheralded talent. Most people don’t know the name, but check out this small sampling of the songs he wrote:

•  “Cry Baby” and “Piece of My Heart” - made famous by Janis Joplin but recorded much  earlier in the R&B world as well.

•  “Under the Boardwalk” by the Drifters.

•  “Everybody Needs Somebody” -- the old R&B song, which many know best from the Blues Brothers re-make.

•  “Cry to Me” (in my top 5 songs of all time) – by Solomon Burke

•  “A Little Bit of Soap”

•  “Here Comes the Night” – Them (Van Morrison)

As a producer at his Bang Records, he did some great work also – including producing my very favorite song of all time: Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl” along with many others.

“On a breakneck, seven-year run beginning in 1960, he created some of the most soulful and honest music of his generation - songs that made you shiver the first time you heard them, songs that are just as fresh and moving today. He is truly the lost titan of the American music business, an important figure the world knows little about. It's long past time his brilliance was recognized."  - Doug Morris, from the liner notes to The Heart And Soul Of Bert Berns

Now, here’s something both fun and worthwhile for all of us who would like to participate. When I gave Cody his choice of prizes (a Bert Berns-related CD,  or a Johnny or Edgar Winter CD) he suggested something else. He said “Why don’t you just donate the $15 prize value to Big Brothers & Big Sisters?”   I said sure. Thomas Neuhaus thought it was a great idea and threw his hard earned prize value into the pot.  So we’re at $30 already – and the day’s just kicking off. Some further brainstorming ensued and we thought: “Why not give anybody who’s feeling like starting off the week with some good deeds and good vibes a way to do it too – and make it a group effort?”

So, if you want to contribute to this worthy cause you can simply go to this site and do so. https://www.kintera.org/site/apps/ka/sd/donorcustom.asp?c=iuJ3JgO2F&b=186611
(It is the Big Brothers and Big Sisters website although the address looks goofy – you can reach this page by starting at the www.bbbsa.org homepage if you want to verify.)

Now you will see that there is a notation for an “in honor of” notation. It would be fun to see what we do cumulatively, but be assured – I will not know who gave nor how much. Notating it with the code word, if you choose to, will simply  allow me to check in a few days and see how we did as a group. There will be no knowledge of personal participation or amount – unless you yourself told me.

Use notation word “Fraim” in the “in honor of” box  if you want to. But you may relax -- you are not “honoring” me. Heck, think of it as slamming me, vilifying me, smacking me around, whatever you like. It’s just a way to see if we collectively can accomplish something..

Now, back to the thing that first started this discussion, the song “Hang On Sloopy.” A few items of note:

•  Jordan Kahn, first-class hedge fund and individual portfolio manager at Berger and Associates in Beverly Hills, California – and a Cleveland, Ohio native – notes that in his neck of Ohio’s woods “Sloopy” was not highly regarded and that no one from Cleveland ever sang it.  (Capulets/Montagues, Hatfields/McCoys, Cleveland/Akron maybe?) Much preferred was “Cleveland Rocks” by the group The Presidents of the U.S.A.

• Michael Friesen at TD Securities shared this, which made me laugh: “I don’t know the answers to your ‘Hang on Sloopy’ questions yet, but I do remember that when I and my sister were young, my parents had an “oldies” tape we used to play in the car that had that song. However, in the way that kids hear lyrics, my sister and I thought it hilarious that there was a song where the chorus was: ‘’Hang on Stupid!’ ”

One more thing on “Sloopy”  -- and you need to read this because it shows that on rare occasion politicians do display a sense of humor.

Posted at 09:44 AM in Music | Permalink

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Comments

There is one guy that sang "Hang on" or "My Girl" Sloopy before the McCoys. I'm trying to figure out who that was. I thought it might be Little Anthony & the Imperials but I keep hitting dead ends. Anybody's help would be appreciated. Thank you. Don

Posted by: Don | Jun 8, 2005 5:18:11 PM

I heard a record of a soul singer or group doing Hang On Sloopy on the local R&R station in Reno NV during the summer of 1965. I was 15 and was visiting a good friend who was originally from Reno and had returned there from Bakersfield CA, where I'm from and still reside. I think the artist was Little Caesar. I'll see what I can find on that.

Posted by: Dayne Frary | Jun 4, 2006 10:24:13 PM

My Girl Sloopy
1964
The Vibrations

Posted by: Dan | Apr 2, 2008 1:51:06 PM

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