Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Shimmy, Shimmy Ko-Ko Bop

First recorded (as “(Shimmy Shimmy) Ko Ko Wop”) by The El Capris (1956).
Hit version by Little Anthony & The Imperials (US #24/R&B #14 1960).

From the wiki: “The El Capris formed in 1954, in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They were neighborhood friends, all of whom were between 13 and 14 years old. They decided to call themselves the ‘Bluebirds’ but with a twist: Believing that the Spanish for ‘bluebird’ was ‘capri’, they settled on the ‘El Capris’ – ignoring the fact that ‘el’ is used grammatically in the singular … and that ‘capri’ does not mean ‘bluebird’. None of this, however, had any relevance to their singing talent which they used to win a contest, at school in 1955. The prize was an audition for Woody Henderling, owner of New York City’s Bullseye label. He liked what he heard, and in late 1955, he put them in a studio at WHOD Radio in Homestead, PA, recording two songs.

“One of the sides they recorded was titled ‘(Shimmy Shimmy) Ko Ko Wop’, written by three of the group’s members, ames Scott, James Ward and Leon Gray. The record was released in March of 1956, but went nowhere.

“The Little Anthony & the Imperials cover version in 1960 was a subtle rewrite, with just a tweak to the title and a change of setting for the verses -a version credited to Bob Smith. ‘Shimmy Shimmy Ko-Ko Bop’ was the first uptempo hit for the group, who were better known for ballads like ‘Tears On My Pillow’. Little Anthony did not like the song, and would often disparage it on stage before performing it. Regardless, ‘Shimmy Shimmy Ko-Ko Bop” peaked at #24 on the Billboard Hot 100 – their second Top-40 hit – and #14 on the R&B chart.

“The 1960 hit did spawn a number of similarly-titled songs. Also in 1960 ‘(I Do The) Shimmy Shimmy’ by Bobby Freeman went to #37 on the Billboard Hot 100; ‘Shimmy Like Kate’ by The Olympics (‘Good Lovin’‘) made it to #42 that same year; and, in 1962, James Brown hit #61 with ‘Shout And Shimmy’.”

Little Anthony & The Imperials, “Shimmy, Shimmy Ko-Ko Bop” (1960):

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