Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop

Album: The Best of Little Anthony (1959)
Charted: 24
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • This seemingly innocuous song became one of the first great earworms, with the chorus of "Shimmy, shimmy, ko-ko-bop, shimmy, shimmy, bop" burrowing into our brains and refusing to let go.

    Like many hits of this era aimed at teenagers, it's about a dance: the "ko-ko-bop." The third verse contains specific instructions:

    Left foot forward, right one back
    Bring them side by side
    Syncopate your last two steps
    Now you're gonna glide
  • The song is about a guy who is entranced by a "native" girl who shows him the dance.
  • This is based on a song called "(Shimmy Shimmy) Ko Ko Wop," which was released by a Pittsburgh group called the El Capris in 1956. That song was written by group members James Scott, James Ward and Leon Gray; it takes place on an island and has a Polynesian rhythm.

    The Little Anthony & the Imperials version is a not-so-subtle rewrite, with just a tweak to the title and a change of setting for the verses. This version is credited as written by Bob Smith.
  • Various "Shimmy" songs followed: in 1960 "(I Do The) Shimmy Shimmy" by Bobby Freeman went to #37 US; "Shimmy Like Kate" by The Olympics made #42 that same year; and in 1962 James Brown hit #61 with "Shout And Shimmy."
  • This was the first uptempo hit for Little Anthony & the Imperials, who were known for their ballads "Tears On My Pillow" and "So Much."
  • Little Anthony did not like this song, and would often disparage it on stage before performing it.
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 1

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 12th 1960, Little Anthony & the Imperials were one of the acts* appearing at the Apollo Theatre in the Harlem section of New York City...
    At the time the group's "Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop" was at #24 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart, that was also its peak position of the chart and it stayed on the Top 100 for 16 weeks...
    It reached #14 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    Between 1958 and 1974 the Brooklyn-area quintet had nineteen Top 100 records; three made the Top 10, "Tears On My Pillow" {#4 in 1958}, "Goin' Out of My Head" {#6 in 1964}, and "Hurts So Bad" {#10 in 1965}...
    One Billboard's R&B Singles chart they had five Top 10 hits, with two reaching #2, "Tears On My Pillow" and "So Much"...
    Lead singer Jerome 'Little Anthony' Gourdine celebrated his 75th birthday one month ago on January 8th {2016}...
    * Other acts on the Apollo Theatre bill were Chuck Berry, Baby Washington, and the Mello-Kings.
see more comments

Martyn Ware of Heaven 17Songwriter Interviews

Martyn talks about producing Tina Turner, some Heaven 17 hits, and his work with the British Electric Foundation.

Andy McClusky of OMDSongwriter Interviews

Known in America for the hit "If You Leave," OMD is a huge influence on modern electronic music.

Millie JacksonSongwriter Interviews

Outrageously gifted and just plain outrageous, Millie is an R&B and Rap innovator.

Director Wes Edwards ("Drunk on a Plane")Song Writing

Wes Edwards takes us behind the scenes of videos he shot for Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley and Chase Bryant. The train was real - the airplane was not.

Oliver LeiberSongwriter Interviews

Long before she was judging contestants on American Idol, Oliver was producing Paula Abdul. Here's how he helped turn this unknown choreographer into a star.

Sam PhillipsSongwriter Interviews

Collaborating with T Bone Burnett, Leslie Phillips changed her name and left her Christian label behind - Robert Plant, who recorded one of her songs on Raising Sand, is a fan.