Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Hang On, Sloopy

First recorded (as “My Girl Sloopy”) by The Vibrations (US #26/R&B #10 1964).
Other hit versions by Little Caesar & The Consuls (CAN #1/US #50 1965), The McCoys (US #1/UK #5 1965), The Ramsey Lewis Trio (US #11/R&B #6 1965).
Also re-recorded by Ramsey Lewis (1973).

From the wiki: “‘Hang On, Sloopy’ is a 1964 song owned by Wes Farrell and Bert Russell, originally titled ‘My Girl Sloopy’. A tale told around Columbus, Ohio, is that Sloopy was a waitress/singer, who used the name ‘Sloopy’ on stage. The truth is the song was never about her. It was written by a St. Louis teen who created a fictitious ‘Sloopy’ and then sold his publishing rights to Farrell and Russell.

“It was first recorded in 1964 by The Vibrations (who had previously recorded as The Jayhawks (‘Stranded in the Jungle‘), becoming a Top 30 hit. The first cover version of ‘Sloopy’ was recorded by a Canadian band, Little Caesar & The Consuls, where their recording hit #1 in July 1965 on the Canadian Singles chart (and cracked the Billboard Hot 100).

“In 1965, The Strangeloves, a trio purported to be from Australia, decided to make the song the follow-up to their hit single ‘I Want Candy’. However, the Dave Clark Five, with whom they were touring, told the Strangeloves that they were going to record their own version of the ‘Sloopy’, copying the Strangeloves’ arrangement that the group had been performing in concert. So, the Strangeloves — who were, in reality, three successful writer/producers from Brooklyn, New York — recruited a group from Indiana, Rick & the Raiders, to instead record their arrangement.

“The group’s name was changed to The McCoys (to avoid confusion with another popular band of the era, Paul Revere & the Raiders), and the single was released on Bang Records in July 1965. It entered the chart on August 14, 1965, effectively beating the Dave Clark Five to the charts. (The DC5 never did release their arrangement.) The McCoys’ single went on to hit #1 on October 2. (The McCoys’16-year-old leader, Rick Zehringer, later became known as Rick Derringer.)

“‘Hang On, Sloopy’ also became the title track of a live instrumental album, Hang On Ramsey! (1966), first released in October 1965 by the Ramsey Lewis Trio. The promotional single charted Top-20 on the Billboard Hot 100. Lewis re-recorded ‘Sloopy’ in 1973 for release on the album Ramsey Lewis’ Newly Recorded All-Time Non-Stop Golden Hits (aka Ramsey Lewis’ Golden Hits). This re-recording garnered Ramsey a Grammy Award for Best R&B Instrumental Performance.

“The song gained an association with The Ohio State University after its marching band began playing it at football games; first performing it in 1965 after a band member, John Tatgenhorst, begged the director to try playing it. Because of the crowd reaction, the band began to play it at every game. It now remains a Saturday tradition to play the song before the start of the fourth quarter of every OSU Buckeye game and also, since 1985, has been the official ‘state song’ of Ohio.”

Little Caesar & The Consuls, “(My Girl) Sloopy” (1965):

The McCoys, “Hang On, Sloopy” (1965):

The Ramsey Lewis Trio, “Hang On, Sloopy” (1965):

Ramsey Lewis, “Hang On, Sloopy” (1973):

Ohio State University Marching Band, “Hang On, Sloopy” (2014):