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Rivingtons Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow.gif
Single by The Rivingtons
from the album Doin' the Bird
B-side"Deep Water"
ReleasedMarch 16, 1962 (1962-03-16)
RecordedFebruary 1962 (1962-02)
StudioRadio Recorders, Hollywood, California
  • Carl White
  • Al Frazier
  • Sonny Harris
  • Turner Wilson Jr.
Producer(s)Adam Ross
The Rivingtons singles chronology
"Kickapoo Joy Juice"

"Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" is a novelty nonsensical doo-wop song by the Rivingtons in 1962. 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".

"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 four hit in 1963 by The Trashmen.[3] 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.[4] Initially, the single did not credit the original songwriters, but after the Rivingtons asked for their copyright to be respected, the songwriting credits were amended.

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.

Cover versions[edit]

Other appearances of the song's lyrics[edit]

The title of the song is quoted in background lyrics of the song "Summer Nights" from the musical Grease: in facts, the appearance of the lyrics, which was written in 1962, in a song set in fall 1958 creates one of several anachronisms present in the musical.

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". 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.

The "Papa oom mow mow" lyric appears in the final repeating refrain of Neil Sedaka's 1975 single "The Queen Of 1964".[7][8] 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. Garage rock band Nobunny added the song's lyrics at the end of their hit "I Am a Girlfriend", released in 2008. 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 2010 album Hellbilly Deluxe 2.

The song also features in Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), in the scene where Elliot sits with his brother's friends while ordering a pizza; they are trying to request the song on a phone call to a radio station, and the echo refrain of the song playing can be heard before Elliot first encounters ET in his family's backyard.


  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. ^ Billboard (date unknown). Surfin' Bird on the Billboard Hot 100. Retrieved from Billboard Archived from the original on August 27, 2014. Retrieved April 1, 2013. {{cite magazine}}: Missing or empty |title= (help). Copied 17 January 2012 from the Surfin' Bird article.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ "Hong Kong". Billboard. The Billboard Publishing Company. October 2, 1965. p. 28. Retrieved April 14, 2021.
  6. ^ "Gary Glitter - Papa Oom Mow Mow".
  7. ^ "Neil Sedaka – the Queen of 1964".
  8. ^ Neil Sedaka - "The Queen Of 1964" [radio version] (1975) on YouTube