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Original 45 rpm disc
Single by The Rivingtons
from the album Doin' the Bird
B-side "Deep Water"
Released 1962 (1962)
Format 7" record
Recorded 1961
Genre Doo-wop
Length 02:17
Label Liberty
Writer(s) Carl White, Al Frazier, Sonny Harris, Turner Wilson Jr.
Producer(s) Adam Ross
The Rivingtons singles chronology
"Kickapoo Joy Juice"
Song by The Rivingtons from the album Doin' The Bird
Released 1962
Genre Doo-wop
Label Liberty
Writer(s) Carl White, Al Frazier, Sonny Harris, Turner Wilson Jr.
Doin' The Bird track listing
  1. "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow"
  2. "Love Pill"
  3. "Long Tall Sally"
  4. "Unchain My Heart"
  5. "You Are My Sunshine"
  6. "Happy Jack"
  7. "Mama-Oom-Mow-Mow (The Bird)"
  8. "Kickapoo Joy Juice"
  9. "Slippin' and Slidin'"
  10. "Old Time Love"
  11. "Have Mercy, Mercy Baby"
  12. "Standing in the Love Line"

"Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" is a 1962 novelty nonsensical doo-wop song by the Rivingtons. It peaked at number 48 on the Billboard Hot 100,[1] and number 35 on the Cashbox charts.[2] The band released two similar follow-up songs over the next several months, "Mama-Oom-Mow-Mow (The Bird)" and "The Bird's the Word".[3]

"Surfin' Bird"[edit]

Together with the Rivingtons' 1963 novelty song "The Bird's the Word", "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" was the basis for the song "Surfin' Bird", a number 4 hit in 1963 by the Trashmen.[4] The combination of the songs, played at a much livelier pace than the original doo-wop songs, was ad-libbed at an early live performance by the band and later released as a single.[5] Initially, the 45 did not credit the original songwriters, but after threats from the Rivingtons' attorneys the songwriting credits were amended.[6]

The Trashmen's follow-up single "Bird Dance Beat" referenced "Surfin' Bird" in the lyrics and featured several sections of the "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" syllables.[7]

Cover versions[edit]

The song was later covered by the Beach Boys for their first live album, Beach Boys Concert, in 1964—this track entering the Philippines top 10 February 26th 1966 according to Billboard—and, again sung by Brian Wilson, on their album Beach Boys' Party! in 1965. The track was also included on the Music for Pleasure compilation album The Beach Boys Good Vibrations released in the UK in the 1970s.

In 1967, the Freshmen scored a Top 10 hit with the song in Ireland. Versions by both The Sharonettes and Gary Glitter made the UK Top 40 in 1975. This was Glitter's first non-top-10 single after 11 consecutive top-ten hits. The Ramones also have their version of this song.

The composition was also covered in 1966 by the Thunderbirds, a Hong-Kong band headed by Robert Lee, the brother of martial-arts star Bruce Lee.

The Deviants covered the song on their 1968 album Disposable.

The song was performed by The California Raisins in the 1988 television special Meet the Raisins!.

The song was featured in the 1989 television movie pilot episode "Nick Knight" starring Rick Springfield as a centuries-old vampire working as a police detective in modern-day Los Angeles.

Clifford, Kermit the Frog, and the Giant Clams (voiced by Rockapella) later covered the song on the 1993 album Muppet Beach Party.

Notably, a cover version of "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" by the Persuasions was briefly heard in the film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. In 2011, a version performed by a choir was used in the film Happy Feet Two.

Garage rock band Nobunny adds the song's lyrics at the end of "I am a girlfriend".

Other appearances of the song's lyrics[edit]

In 1964, surf rockers Jan and Dean morphed the song into "The New Girl in School", with new lyrics and the refrain "Doo-ron-de-ron-de" substituted for "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow". "New Girl in School" garnered significant U.S. airplay as the B-side of the Top 40 hit "Dead Man's Curve".

In 1969 the song's distinctive titular nonsense lyrics appeared as a similarly-sung chorus in Giorgio Moroder's first single Looky Looky and the Oak Ridge Boys' 1981 hit "Elvira" has an "oom-papa-mow-mow" chorus, an element that existed in songwriter Dallas Frazier's 1967 original version of the song. (Al Frazier was a member of The Rivingtons and is listed as a co-author of "Papa Oom Now Now". It has been erroneously reported over the years that he and Dallas Frazier were the same person.)

In 2010, heavy metal artist Rob Zombie repeatedly uses the song's title in the chorus of his song "Burn", which is the 8th track off of his solo album Hellbilly Deluxe 2.


  1. ^ Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 by Joel Whitburn, Record Research Publications, Menomonee Falls, WI - ISBN 0-89820-155-1
  2. ^ Cashbox Pop Singles Charts 1950-1993 by Pat Downey, George Albert, and Frank Hoffmann, Libraries Unlimited, Englewood, CO - ISBN 1-56308-316-7
  3. ^ The Rivingtons' Discography. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
  4. ^ Billboard (date unknown). Surfin' Bird on the Billboard Hot 100. Retrieved from Archived from the original on August 27, 2014. Retrieved April 1, 2013.  Missing or empty |title= (help). Copied 17 January 2012 from the Surfin' Bird article.
  5. ^ Gueningsman, Ryan (2009-04-27). "A whole new generation is ‘hearing the word’". Herald Journal, 27 April 2009. Retrieved on 2009-04-29 from Copied 17 January 2012 from the Surfin' Bird article.
  6. ^ "Trashmen, The - Surfin' Bird". Retrieved April 19, 2009. . Copied 17 January 2012 from the Rivingtons article.
  7. ^ "Bird Dance Beat" lyrics. Retrieved 17 January 2012.

External links[edit]