The Olympics (band)

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Not to be confused with Olympic (band).

The Olympics were an American doo-wop group, formed in 1957 by lead singer Walter Ward (August 28, 1940 — December 11, 2006). The group included Eddie Lewis (tenor, Ward's cousin), Charles Fizer (tenor), Walter Hammond (baritone) and Melvin King (bass) and except for Lewis were friends in a Los Angeles, California, high school.

History and influence[edit]

Their first record was credited to Walter Ward and the Challengers ("I Can Tell" on Melatone Records). After the name change, they recorded "Western Movies" (Demon Records) in the summer of 1958. Co-written by Fred Smith and Cliff Goldsmith, "Western Movies" made it to #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song reflected the nation's preoccupation with western themed movies and television programs. It told the story of a man who lost his girl to TV westerns, and it included doo-wop harmonies as well as background gunshots and ricochet sound effects.

In 1959 the group recorded "(Baby) Hully Gully," which initiated the hully gully dance craze. "Big Boy Pete," which the group released in 1960, served as inspiration for The Kingsmen's "Jolly Green Giant." Over the next ten years The Olympics recorded upbeat R&B songs, often about dances popular at the time.

In 1966 The Rascals covered The Olympics 1965 song, "Good Lovin'", and took it to #1 on the US Hot 100. Since then, many recorded versions have been made by prominent artists, including The Who, The Grateful Dead, and Bobby McFerrin.

Fizer was shot and killed during the Watts Riots in 1965. Shortly thereafter, King left the group after his sister died in an accidental shooting. A revamped group continued to record into the early 1970s but were unable to attain popular chart success after the mid 1960s. The Olympics continued to perform on the oldies circuit in the United States and other countries.

Walter Ward's song "Well (Baby please don't go)" (the b-side to "Western Movies") was recorded twice by John Lennon in 1971: the February 1971 studio recording was not issued until the 1998 John Lennon Anthology, then again on Wonsaponatime. A June 1971 live recording with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention was issued on 1972's Some Time In New York City, and on Zappa's 1992's Playground Psychotics.

Singles[edit]

(Chart positions, except were noted, listed are from the Billboard Hot 100 chart)

Year Title Chart positions
US US R&B UK
1958 "Western Movies"[1] 8 7 12
"I Wanna Dance With the Teacher" 71
1959 "Private Eye" 95
1960 "(Baby) Hully Gully" 72
"Big Boy Pete" 50 10
"Shimmy Like Kate" 42
"Dance By the Light of the Moon" 47
1961 "I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate" 40
"Little Pedro" 76
"Dooley" 94
1963 "The Bounce" 40 22
"Dancin' Holiday" 86
1965 "Good Lovin'" 81
1966 "Mine Exclusively" 99 25
"Baby, Do the Philly Dog" 63 20

Albums[edit]

  • "Doin' The Hully Gully" (1960) Arvee A-423
  • "Dance By The Light Of The Moon" (1961) Arvee A-424
  • "Party Time" (1961) Arvee A-429
  • "Do The Bounce" (1963) Tri-Disc 1001
  • "Something Old, Something New" 1966 Mirwood[2]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 164. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  2. ^ Goldmine Standard Catalog of American Records 1948-1991 Martin Popoff - 2010 p871 The Olympics 1981 10.00 MIRWOOD MS-7003 [S] Something Old, Something New 1966 50.00 MW-7003 [M] Something Old, Something New 1966

Sources