This was written by the songwriting team of Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, who were looking to recreate the gibberish gold they struck on The Crystals hit "Da Doo Ron Ron
." They stumbled upon "Do Doo Ron Ron," but found that creating a nonsense phrase on purpose was not easy, as it had to sound good and sing well. They settled on "Do Wah Diddy," and pictured it as another girl group hit. It was first recorded (as "Do-Wah-Diddy") in 1963 by The Exciters, who were coming off their hit song "Tell Him
This female version ("There he
was, just walking down the street...") topped out at #78, but got the attention of the British group Manfred Mann, who started performing it at their shows. Since The Beatles had some success covering songs by American girl groups (The Shirelles "Boys
" and The Marvelettes "Please Mr. Postman
"), Manfred Mann decided to give it a shot and recorded "Do-Wah-Diddy," adding their extra Diddy to make it "Do Wah Diddy Diddy."
In the UK, where Manfred Mann was established with the hits "5-4-3-2-1" (#5) and "Hubble Bubble (Toil And Trouble)" (#11), the song topped the chart in July 1964. In America, it took a little longer, but in October they had the #1 hit for two weeks, joining the British Invasion.