Hang On Sloopy

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"Hang On Sloopy"
The McCoys.jpg
Single by the McCoys
from the album Hang On Sloopy
B-side"I Can't Explain It"
ReleasedJuly 1965 (1965-07)
  • 1964
  • 1965
GenreGarage rock[1][2]
The McCoys singles chronology
"Hang On Sloopy"

"Hang On Sloopy" is a 1964 song by Wes Farrell and Bert Berns, originally titled "My Girl Sloopy". It was first recorded and made a hit by R&B vocal group the Vibrations. When the rock band the McCoys covered it in 1965, the song peaked at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number five on the UK Singles Chart.


According to Rick Derringer, the original version of Sloopy was written by a "high school kid in St. Louis" and sold to Bert Russell, also known as Bert Berns.[3] The inspiration for the song is said to be Dorothy Sloop, a jazz singer from Steubenville, Ohio, and a student at Ohio University.[4]

The Vibrations' original version[edit]

"My Girl Sloopy" was first recorded by the Los Angeles-based R&B vocal group the Vibrations in 1964, for Atlantic Records (45-2222). It was a hit, reaching number 10 on the R&B chart and number 26 on the US pop chart. In April 1965,[5] the song then became a local hit in the Pacific Northwest in a cover version by James Henry & the Olympics (Jerden Records), but it was quickly eclipsed in August when the Indiana pop group the McCoys released their retitled version. "Hang On Sloopy" went to number one in the US in October 1965.

Origin of the McCoys version[edit]

In early 1965, the Strangeloves, a New York City rock band, wanted to make the song the follow-up to their hit single "I Want Candy" and began performing it in concert. However, the Dave Clark Five, with whom they were touring, told the Strangeloves that they were going to record their own version when they returned to England, copying the Strangeloves' arrangement. The Strangeloves realized that the Dave Clark Five's cut would likely be a hit, but they were not yet ready to release a new single because they were still enjoying the success of "I Want Candy" from a few months earlier. The answer presented itself when a young rock group named Rick and the Raiders opened (and provided backing) for the Strangeloves in July in Dayton, Ohio.[6] The Strangeloves, three writer-producers from Brooklyn, New York City, recruited Rick and the Raiders to record the song under their name. Their 16-year-old leader, Rick Zehringer, was flown to New York to record his lead vocal over the Strangeloves' already-recorded backing tracks. It was decided to change the name of Rick's group to the McCoys to avoid confusion with another popular band at the time, Paul Revere & the Raiders, and Rick began using the stage name Rick Derringer. The single was issued on Bang Records and entered the chart on August 14, 1965, effectively beating the Dave Clark Five to the charts. The single went on to hit number one on October 2.

Originally written and recorded with three verses, the retitled "Hang On Sloopy" was edited down to two verses for the single and resulting Hang On Sloopy album. The unedited three-verse version, at 3 minutes, 50 seconds, first appeared on the 1970 Bang various artists compilation Bang & Shout Super Hits (BLPS-220), then again on the 1991 Rhino Records various artists compilation Grandson of Frat Rock! Vol. 3 and the 1995 Legacy Recordings compilation Hang On Sloopy: The Best of the McCoys.


Ohio State University[edit]

The song gained an association with The Ohio State University after its marching band began playing it at football games. It first played the song October 9, 1965, after a staff arranger, John Tatgenhorst, begged the director to try playing it. After finally convincing the director, Tatgenhorst prepared an arrangement and the band played the song in front of the stadium.[7] After the crowd reaction, the band began to play it at every game. Since then, "Sloopy" has been appearing on the band's CDs and is available as a free download on its website.[citation needed]

The song has also become a feature at the home games of professional sports teams throughout Ohio where, as is the case at Ohio State, fans usually chant the letters "O, H, I, O" during the pauses in the chorus while mimicking the shape of the letters with their arms. The song is normally played during the transition from the 3rd quarter to the 4th quarter at Ohio Stadium.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band covered this song live in concert at the university's Schottenstein Center in 1999. When the Rolling Stones played Ohio Stadium on May 30, 2015, as part of their Zip Code Tour, they also performed the song.

Official rock song of the state of Ohio[edit]

Later it became the official rock song of the state of Ohio and The Ohio State University. In April 1985, Joe Dirck, columnist for the Columbus Citizen-Journal, saw a wire service story about a proposal to designate "Louie, Louie" as the official State song of Washington, and he subsequently wrote a series of tongue-in-cheek columns. He even registered as a lobbyist for the resolution. Dirck played bass guitar in rock bands and knew the McCoys, particularly Rick Derringer. He said it was a good fit because the McCoys were from the Dayton area, and Ohio State marching band had adopted it as an unofficial anthem. Both the public and its elected officials—most importantly, the 116th Ohio General Assembly became aware their State lacked an official song as a result of the exposure from his commentary. They designated "Hang On Sloopy" as the state rock song by House Concurrent Resolution 16 on November 20, 1985, with clauses including:

WHEREAS, "Hang On Sloopy" is of particular relevance to members of the baby boom generation, who were once dismissed as a bunch of long-haired, crazy kids, but who now are old enough and vote in sufficient numbers to be taken quite seriously..."


WHEREAS, Adoption of this resolution will not take too long, cost the State anything, or affect the quality of life in this State to any appreciable degree, and if we in the legislature just go ahead and pass the darn thing, we can get on with more important stuff.[8]

Professional sports[edit]

"Hang On Sloopy" is also a signature song for Major League Baseball's Cleveland Indians, who play at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio, typically played during the middle of the 8th inning.[9] The song also plays at the end of the 3rd quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium during every Cleveland Browns game, and is also played at Cleveland Cavaliers games at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. During games it is common for fans to yell "O-H-I-O!" following the chorus.[10]

Other charting versions[edit]

  • Little Caesar and the Consuls released a version of the song in 1965 that reached number 50 on the Billboard pop chart and number 3 in Canada.[11]
  • The Ramsey Lewis Trio recorded the song for their 1965 live album Hang On Ramsey!; it reached number six on the US R&B chart, number 11 on the US pop chart, number 18 on the US adult contemporary chart, and number 37 in Canada.[12]
  • The Yardbirds released the song as the last track of their 1965 album For Your Love (album).
  • "Es Lupe", a Spanish-language cover version by Los Johnny Jets, was released in 1965. It topped the Mexican charts for 13 weeks.[13]
  • Leno e Lílian, a Brazilian vocal duo, released a cover version in Portuguese (“Pobre Menina”) in January 1966 that topped the Brazilian charts.[14]
  • The Lettermen released a version of the song in 1970 that reached number 18 on the US adult contemporary chart and number 93 on the Billboard Hot 100.
  • Rick Derringer released a version of the song in 1975 that reached number 94 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 81 in Canada.[15]
  • The Sandpipers released a version of the song in 1976 that reached number 32 on the UK Singles Chart.


  1. ^ Talevski, Nick (May 8, 2006). Knocking on Heaven's Door: Rock Obituaries. Omnibus Press. p. 273. ISBN 9781846090912.
  2. ^ Hoffmann, Frank W. (November 1, 2005). Rhythm and Blues, Rap, and Hip-Hop. American Popular Music. Facts on File. p. 141. ISBN 9780816073412.
  3. ^ Derringer, Rick (April 26, 2012). "Rick Derringer talks about 'Hang On Sloopy'". Interviewed by Karen Kernan. Karen Kernan. Retrieved 8 September 2020 – via YouTube.com.
  4. ^ Joy, Kevin (26 September 2013). "Mystery surrounds Steubenville native who inspired 'Hang On Sloopy'". The Columbus Dispatch. Columbus, Ohio. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  5. ^ Liner notes to The History of Northwest Rock, Vol. 2.
  6. ^ Liner notes to The Best of The McCoys
  7. ^ Guerrieri, Vince (September–October 2020). "How 'Hang On Sloopy' Became Ohio's Anthem". Ohio Magazine. Cleveland, Ohio: Great Lakes Publishing Company. Retrieved August 30, 2020.
  8. ^ "Ohio's State Rock Song - Hang On Sloopy". ohiohistorycentral.org. Ohio History Central. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  9. ^ "Stadium Songs: Cleveland Indians". Espn.com. 25 July 2012. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  10. ^ "Ohio State University celebrates 50 years of 'Hang on Sloopy'". Fox8.com. Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. September 7, 2015. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  11. ^ "RPM Top 40 Singles - August 16, 1965" (PDF).
  12. ^ "RPM Top 40 Singles - November 22, 1965" (PDF).
  13. ^ "Billboard Hits of the World". Billboard. December 18, 1965. p. 36. Retrieved March 3, 2016 – via Google Books.
  14. ^ 'No Embalo da Jovem Guarda', 1999, by Ricardo Pugialli. Ampersand editors, RJ, Brazil.
  15. ^ "RPM Top 100 Singles - May 10, 1975" (PDF).


  • Lyttle, Eric (September 2003). "The Real Story of Hang On Sloopy". Columbus Monthly.
  • Shannon, Bob; Javna, John (1986). "Hang On Sloopy – The McCoys". Behind the Hits. New York: Warner Books. p. 228. ISBN 9780446389372.