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Hang On Sloopy

by

The McCoys



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Written by songwriter Bert Berns, this song was originally recorded by the R&B group The Vibrations as "My Girl Sloopy" in 1964, reaching #26 on the US charts.
The name "Sloopy" most likely came from Dorothy Sloop, who was a Jazz singer from Steubenville, Ohio. She performed in the New Orleans area using the name "Sloopy."
The McCoys began as the Rick Z Combo (named after lead guitarist Rick Zehringer, who later became Rick Derringer) in Union City, Indiana. They developed a following playing at Forest Park Plaza in Dayton, Ohio. They later became Rick And The Raiders, a group led by guitarist and lead singer Derringer. In 1965, Rick And The Raiders played a Dayton, Ohio concert as the backup band for The Strangeloves, who were a group of producers who wrote the song "I Want Candy" and made up a group for it. In a strange and brilliant marketing move, The Strangeloves claimed they were from Australia and said they were shepherds who got rich by crossbreeding sheep. The Strangeloves - Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gottehrer - arranged a recording session with Rick And The Raiders, who changed their name to The McCoys (after a Ventures song), and had them record a version of "My Girl Sloopy" as "Hang On Sloopy." (thanks, Kevin - Port Orchard, WA)
The Strangeloves planned to record this song as the follow-up to their hit "I Want Candy," and began performing it on their tour. Another group on that tour, The Dave Clark Five, hear them doing the song and acquired a taste for Sloopy, realizing it could be a big hit. Dave Clark taped The Strangeloves performing the song and planned to record it with his group when they got back to England. The Strangeloves were in a tough spot because "Candy" was still climbing the charts, and they didn't want to release another single until it was on its way down.

Lucky for The Strangeloves, group member Bob Feldman was afraid to fly, and on their drive back to New York, they stopped in Ohio and played the gig in Dayton where they met Rick And The Raiders, which was led by the 16-year-old Zehringer. The Strangeloves convinced the Raiders' parents to let them take the boys to New York (with Zehringer's parents along for the ride), where they sang over the already-recorded tracks. Said Derringer: "They gave us a small record player and a copy of the musical track and told us exactly what they wanted us to sing. We went out into the park for a few days, practiced singing it, and put the vocal on. They jumped up and down in the control room and yelled, 'Number One!' And a few weeks later, it was."
Most of the group joined Johnny Winter's backup band in the early '70s, and in 1973 Rick Derringer joined the Edgar Winter group as lead guitarist and vocalist, after which he had a successful hard rock solo career.
In 1985, this was named the official Rock song of the state of Ohio. According to the resolution, John Tagenhorst, then an arranger for the Ohio State University Marching Band, created the band's now-famous arrangement of "Sloopy," which was first performed at the Ohio State-Illinois football game on October 9, 1965. The resolution continues: WHEREAS, "Hang On Sloopy" is of particular relevance to members of the Baby Boom Generation, who were once dismissed as a bunch of long-haired, crazy kids, but who now are old enough and vote in sufficient numbers to be taken quite seriously; and
WHEREAS, Adoption of this resolution will not take too long, cost the state anything, or affect the quality of life in this state to any appreciable degree, and if we in the legislature just go ahead and pass the darn thing, we can get on with more important stuff; and
WHEREAS, Sloopy lives in a very bad part of town, and everybody, yeah, tries to put my Sloopy down; and
WHEREAS, Sloopy, I don't care what your daddy do, 'cause you know, Sloopy girl, I'm in love with you; therefore be it
This song was released on Bang Records, which had a Derringer gun for a logo. That's what gave Rick Zehringer the idea for his new name.
Solomon Burke told Mojo magazine August 2008 that Berns, who at the time was his designated producer/writer, originally wrote an earlier version of this for him. However the soul legend turned it down.

Comments (39):

Grew up in Springfield, Ohio in the 60's and music was a major part of our lives. If there wasn't a sporting event going on we were dancing at Forest Park, The Coconut Lounge or at one of the Wampler venues. I remember the seeing the McCoy's many times starting when they were the Rick Z Combo. Great history of the song, loved it!
- Denny, Columbia Falls, MT
Back in '65 I bought this record when I was at the Univ. of Kansas in Lawrence Ks. Then some time in '66 I think is when The McCoys played a concert at The Red Dog there. I had a crush on Rick Derringer. I always wondered why he had tired bags under his eyes at such a young age. I always liked the intro on this song.
- Rotunda, Tulsa, OK
My brother snuck me in to the Caverns of Forest Park in Dayton Oh when I was 14, and it was an awesome to see the likes of Rick and the Raiders and Vicki and the Rest in one of the hottest venues in the Midwest for pure music and dancing with nothing more served than sodas and chips and no tables just one gigantic dance floor with literally hundreds and people dancing and enjoying the battle of the bands every fri and sat
- david alvis, lexington, KY
my freshman year in liberty indiana high school (1964) was the first year for the consolidation of multiple schools. the admin felt like it would be a good idea to have a freshman dance to get everyone acquainted with each other. they hired a local band from union city, indiana - rick and the raiders. so since then i have been a follower of rick derringer's career. so in 1964 i got to hear a soon to be released "hang on sloopy" by a band soon to be called the mccoys. it was great and in two days i will be seeing rick derringer here in fairfield ohio some 48 yrs later. rock on rick !!!
- chuck, fairfield, OH
The unanswered question is why choose Dorothy Sloop as a symbol? In 1964 Dorothy was 51 years old. Not a likely sexual fantasy. My first thought was her carreer ambitions as a jazz singer could be symbolic of the rock band, the rock singer, the rock culture ambitions for success. Then symbolicly transferring that ambition to sexual success. Not an uncommon thing to do in that era. Buy then I stumbled upon the definition of sloopy at urban dictionary.com that set me to another level of symbolosim. Is Sloopy the low life, slothful, counter culture lifestyle/ philosophy of rock muscians? Or, is it just a song about sloppy sex or worse. It is from the wrong side of town. He loves it anyway. Make ME feel good Sloopy. Hang on. This life style can work. Hence it would have nothing to do with Dorothy Sloop at all, unless it would refer to the life style of a jazz muscian of her time. And then it wouldn't be about Dorothy at all but about her suppossed lifestyle. Dorothy could have sued for defamation of character. Interestingly she became a teacher. She didn't hang on. So, Sloopy is symbolic of a philosophy, a not uncommon tactic for that era either. Of course there are different levels of seriousness to interpreting a song like this. Any object of success could be the meaning of this song. To the pure, to the innocent, all things are pure. But the State of Ohio and the Ohio State University might want to review their fascination with this song. And perhaps Dorothy's family could sue.
- david , zanesville, OH
The song describes more than a boy's love for a girl in a different soci0-economic class. In the mid-60s, references to the taboo subject of sexual activity were still often veiled in euphemism. "Hang on Sloopy" is a classic example. The first stanza speaks to the boy's love and concern for a self-conscious girl from the "poor side of town." He comforts her, telling her he doesn't care what her daddy "do," that he's in love with her and to hang on, things will get better. The second stanza speaks to the strong sexual attraction between the two, and is a veiled reference to the act of fellatio while the boy lays on his back. He delights in her beauty, especially her long, tied-back hair, and coaxes her to "let your hair down, girl, let it hang down on me." Backed by the chorus, he urges her to "come on, come on." He tells her "it feels so good" and "you know it feels so good." Suggestive of his quickening breathing and the movement of her head, the song quickens in tempo and he yells "shake it, shake it, shake it, Sloopy." He lets out a "yeah!" before the song creschendos with a long howl, symbolizing the ecstasy of orgasm.
- The , Tampa Bay, FL
This song was going good when I was in the jungles of South Vietnam. Brought back memories of one I left behind. We had a sargent who while we were on perimiter guard would sing the lyrics and we would all sing backup!
- Pat, Williston, SC
Bernard Purdie was the studio drummer for this song. Here are his comments when asked "What was your worst gig?"

"Not too many people have ever asked me that. I can't call it the worst, but it was the one I tried to mess up. I was angry. They asked me to play like I was a 14 year old. I was upset. Here I am the number one drummer in New York and around the country, and they want me to sound like a 14 year old. So I tried to mess up the song. That song has haunted me for 45 years. That song is 'Hang On Sloopy.' They wanted me to sound like a beginner. They wanted it to be a trash band, a garage band. It was embarrassing. What made it even worse was the producer and a couple of the guys in the band had been smokin' and drinkin'. It made me very, very upset. So I tried putting fills in every place but where I was supposed to. Once I've told the story around, then people listen to the song differently and say, 'Oh yeah, you would never normally put a fill here.' But I was trying to mess it up. And when we finished, they were like, 'That's it! That's perfect!' I said to myself then that as long as I live, if you don't like something or don't want to do it with somebody, then don't take the job. You cannot go in with the wrong attitude to do a job when somebody is paying you. If you don't want to do the job, then don't accept the job. That has been my motto for my career."

— Bernard Purdie
- Hyungh, San Francisco, CA
this is a fun song to dance to or play when you are feeling a little low
- nancy, baltimore, MD
I remember the night that "Red" (the DJ) announced at the Coconut Lounge in Urbana, Ohio, that the next group from Indiana, Called "The Rich Kids" were Singing their New song Hang on Sloopy, but under their new name The McCoys. The Coconut Lounge at Lakewood Beach, Urbana Ohio north of Springfield had about every popular group at the time four seasons, beach boys, dianna ross and the supremes, ike and tina turner, etc. It was a teen club no booze. I have a pretty good memory, but not a perfect one. Any one else remember the talent at the coconut lounge, like The McCoys?
- TOM, SPRINGFIELD, OH
The vibrations were one of the greatist groups that,i ever saw period.this group was a very exciting act,they could sing,dance, and had great choreography.the vibrations had many hits like the watusi,cindy,sloopy and misty.why doenst this group get any credit for what its done?its a shame after all these years,the vibrations are still being taken for granted.i truly hope that this type thinking changes towards this group soon.sincerely yours,michael mcgehee
- michael, bridgeport, CT
Don West was the DJ at the Fun Run in Kingman, AZ last night (May 1, 2009). He sang HANG ON SLOOPY and said that he was 17 when he recorded it.
- Lynn, Huntington Beach, CA
Those that have the 45rpm. of this song should flip it over and play "I Can't Explain It" -----------a great little tune in it's own right.
- Sam, Hipsville, CA
Joe, couldn't find anything saying Don West was ever a member of the McCoys.
- Lester, New York City, NY
One of my all time faves--went to High School in the Dayton area in the 60's----what a fantastic time--w i n g radio playing the weekly top 40 and hearing "hang on sloopy" when it was number one! Great Era to grow up in!!!
- roggie, Fairborn , OH
In case anyone is wondering about Jackie's above reference to the "red dress", oldies stations now sometimes play a long version of the McCoys' Sloopy with an added 2nd verse about Sloopy wearing a red dress. Thus, the "YEAH-yeah" call and response in this version comes at the end of the chorus after the second rather than the first verse.
- John, Cincinnati, OH
an enjoyable 3 chord song....
"sloopy, I don't care what your daddy do..."
heh,...love that line.
- steve dotstar, los angeles, CA
I was told that Don West was a member of the Mc Coys ,when Hang On Sloopy was recorded.can someone put some light on this for me?
- Joe, Golden Valley, AZ
Don't see it mentioned but Rick Derringer had a smash solo hit with "Rock n Roll Hootchie Koo" in '73.
- Doug, Cambridge, ON
David, NYC--Thanks, this supports something I heard long ago. I was in college when this song was current and heard the DJ remark once that the drummer in this band was really young at the time it was recorded--16, or maybe even 14, I don't remember. I think that was the first time I felt really OLD, because here was an actual Rock Star who was younger than me! I guess I was so much older then, but I'm younger than that now. ;-)
- Fred, Laurel, MD
This has roughly the same story line as the Four Seasons' "Rag Doll". The protagonist is a guy in love with a lady from a poor dwelling area. This guy loves her for who she is; everyone else puts her down for being poor and outcast. We are to follow the example of these guys. Not necessarily an obligation to fall in love with just anyone in the outcast class; but at least to love everyone equally and not alienate anyone who's not in the "in-crowd".
- andrew, birmingham, United States
I grew up in Dayton in the early 60s and saw these guys a number of times at Forest Park Plaza. The drummer for the McCoys was Rick's little brother Randy who played standing up. First and only time I ever saw that.
- David, New York, NY
Hang on Sloopy was real popular in the Mexican American community.I even knew a girl whose nickname was Sloopy,probably from the Vibrations version of the tune,
Also,the Mc Coys version of Fever is fantastic also.
- Doug, Oakland, CA
ah, so I wasn't going crazy last week. Driving to Florida listening to XM radio's Just #1's on the Sixtys station and I heard the version with the Red Dress lyrics. NEVER heard it before and I am a big fan of 50's & 60's music. Kind of freaked me out!
- Cliff, Amelia, VA
While this is an amazing song i would hope that this website would credit the other writer of the song Wes Farrell, the person who actually wrote the lyrics! He is my father, so forgive the frustration.
- Wes, miami, FL
when this song came out, Soupy Sales was popular and as a 10 year old kid i thought they were singing "hang on Soupy". Rick was part of the band "Johnny Winters And" killer live album. - ray. palm bay, fl
- ray, palm bay, ID
When Ohio State played Michigan a while back, they played this song in a zillion different versions and a zillion different mixes on the morning show on one of the local radio stations. I got sick of it after a while but it sure got me pumped and I even ended up wearing scarlet and gray to the speech tournament that Saturday -- and I don't even like football!
- Marissa, Is this optional?, OH
don, I have that same Great Shakes record! What a gas!!
- fyodor, Denver, CO
ahh, heard this at a "sock" hop at my high school. Loved it
- George, Richmond, VA
The Dave Clark Five wanted to record this song but were beat to the punch by the McCoys. I believe they covered it but never put it into single release.
- Alan, Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
One of my favorite songs of the mid 60s. Who would want to name their daughter Sloopy? The opening drumbeat was also used on the McCoys remake of the Peggy Lee hit Fever.
- Howard, St. Louis Park, MN
This song is the non-official fight song for The Ohio State University, and is played at every sporting event at least 100 times.
- Nathan, Defiance, OH
SLOOPY AND THE REAL McCoys Just returned to Ohio after living for five years in Iowa. The version that the oldies Des Moines radio station plays is really different. What's the story on this and the "Red Dress" lyrics?
- Jackie, Mansfield, , OH
When I was 7 or 8 (around 1965), I purchased a 4- song 7" by mail from this long defunct company that made "Great Shakes" shake mix. The songs included Simon & Garfunkel "Got a Groovy Thing", The New Christy Minstrels "This Land is Your Land", Dave Clark 5 "Catch Us if You Can" (which is really what I got it for cause my big sister had just got the DC5's "Weekend in London" LP, and The Yardbirds "My Girl Sloopy" which for the longest time I thought was a rip-off of the McCoys! Never heard of the Vibrations till you mentioned it...thanks for the background. DK, Ithaca, NY
- don, New York, NY
This song is most commonly available in an edited version that runs approximately 3 minutes. However, if you look hard enough you can find the unedited version which runs about a minute longer. And no, they didn't cut anything out because it was dirty. There was a verse cut out to fit the 3 minute rule of radio stations in the 60s.
- Chris, Bluffton, SC
The McCoy's played at my aunt's prom back in the sixties when they were not famous and my mom and friend met them and hung out with them and took all these pictures and the last thing they said before they left was " We'll remeber you when your famous." How wild is that?
- Mercedes, Poop, IN
Our school won a "Heartbeat Hop" contest in 1966 and the prize was a concert with The McCoys. I'll always rememberthem playing "Sloopy" and the whole school singing along.
- bob, Cincinnati, OH
"Sloopy" was inspired by a lady named Dorothy Sloopy from Steubenville Ohio who used sloopy as her stage name.. So OSU adopted it and used it for their purposes. Go to Http.//members.aol.com/sloopyo/song.html to see the rest of the story behind this. and see www.netstate.com/states/symb/song/oh_hang_on_sloopy.htm-14k with or without 14k in address. hope this helps
- Jennifer, Santa Barbara, CA
This is an excellent song!, one of my favorites, but has anyone ever wondered where the name Sloopy came from?
- AJ, Ontario, Canada
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