Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop

Album: The Best of Little Anthony (1959)
Charted: 24
  • 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.
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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.
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