Flat Foot Floogie (with a Floy Floy)
|""Flat Foot Floogie (With a Floy Floy)""|
|Single by Slim & Slam|
|B-side||"Chinatown, My Chinatown"|
|Released||February 17, 1938|
|Recorded||New York City|
|Songwriter(s)||Slim Gaillard, Slam Stewart, Bud Green|
"Flat Foot Floogie" was Slim & Slam's first and biggest hit song. Their version was one of the top records of 1938, peaking at number two on US charts.
Bulee "Slim" Gaillard (1916–1991) and Leroy "Slam" Stewart (1914–1987) met in New York City in 1936 and formed a duo, performing together on the radio and in 52nd Street clubs, with Gaillard on guitar and vocals and Stewart on bass. They attracted radio pioneer Martin Block to manage them and he arranged a contract with Vocalion. On February 17, 1938 Slim and Slam recorded "Flat Foot Floogie" (Vocalion 4021).
Gaillard sold the publishing rights to "Flat Foot Floogie" to Green Brothers and Knight for $250, and writing credit was shared with Bud Green.[a] Shortly thereafter, Benny Goodman & His Orchestra played it on the Camel Caravan radio show, launching its rise to popularity.
The lyrics are brief and are dominated by the repetition of the title words and the nonsense refrain, "floy-doy, floy-doy, floy-doy". The original lyric, recorded in January 1938, was "flat foot floozie with a floy floy"; Vocalion, however, objected to the word "floozie", meaning a sexually promiscuous woman, or a prostitute. The second recording in February changed the word to "floogie". In the second part of the title phrase, "floy floy" was slang for a venereal disease, but the term was not widely known and failed to catch the attention of censors. It was regarded as nonsense and came to have positive connotations as a consequence of the song.
Many artists covered the song in 1938: Wingy Manone on May 23; Benny Goodman & His Orchestra on May 31 (Victor 25871); Louis Armstrong with The Mills Brothers on June 10 (Decca 1876); as well as Woody Herman and Count Basie. In Europe, Fats Waller recorded it in London while on tour (HMV BD5399), an instrumental version was recorded by jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt (Decca F-6776) and the Dutch singing duo Johnny and Jones covered it.
Gaillard recorded "Flat Foot Floogie" again in 1945 for Bel-Tone, with an ensemble that included Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Jack McVea, one of several songs recorded during the session. Bel-Tone went bankrupt, but the recordings were acquired by Majestic and released in 1946.[c]
The song has continued to be revisited over the years. The Jacksons performed it twice on their 1970s variety show, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain has included it in performances, and Nina Hagen covered it on her 2006 album Irgendwo auf der Welt.
In other media
Bill Holman's comic strip Smokey Stover contained a reference to the song in its November 26, 1938 edition: "It sounds like flat foot Flanagan with the foo foo." Here, "flat foot" is slang for a police officer; Flanagan is reporting that an arsonist has escaped by burning down the jail.
In 1968, when writer Jack Kerouac appeared on William F. Buckley's television show Firing Line, an apparently drunk Kerouac asked Buckley "You know what my mother calls [Hubert] Humphrey?" When Buckley responded "I don't know," Kerouac began singing "Flat-faced floogie with the floy floy!"
- According to an account by Gaillard, the $250 was an advance against royalties, but Stewart reported that the duo made little money from the sheet music and that he collected back residuals only after joining ASCAP.
- Goodman also charted with the song in 1938, peaking at number 7.
- "Dizzy Boogie"/"Flat Foot Floogie", Slim Gaillard Orchestra (Majestic 9002).
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- "Top Songs of 1938". MusicVF. Retrieved 2015-03-04.
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- Nations, Opal Louis; Tamberg, Randall (April 1999). "Hit/Majestic Records, 'The Mighty Monarch of the Air'" (PDF). Blues & Rhythm (138): 6–10. Retrieved 2015-03-05.
- Litweiler, John (June 21, 1989). "Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain Whimsically Runs The Gamut". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2015-03-04.
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- "Swing Kids". Library of Congress. Film, Video. Retrieved 2015-03-01.
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- Holman, Bill (November 26, 1938). "Smokey Stover — Fire Escape". Tribune Media Services. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
- "Flat Foot Floogie" on The Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong, blog by Armstrong historian Ricky Riccardi
- "Flat Foot Floogee", 1938 rendition by Wingy Manone Orchestra, at the Internet Archive
- "Flat Foot Floogie" 1938 rendition by Louis Armstrong with the Mills Brothers on vocals, at the Internet Archive