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Hang on Sloopy Becomes a Number One Hit October 1, 1965

by Carl Hoffman

Hang on Sloopy became a number one hit in the U.S. this date in 1965. I was a senior in high school when it became a hit and remember the buzz the lyrics caused. My buddies and I thought the lyrics were suggestive so we kind of added our own meaning to the song.

The founding members of the McCoys were Ohio born. (Celina, Ohio) They lived in Galena Ohio until around 1960 and moved to nearby Fort Recovery, Indiana. There Rick Zehringer and his brother Randy meet Dennis Kelly whom Rick teaches bass guitar. Their musical group the Rick Z Combo is formed in 1962. Problems getting gigs arise due to the name of the group. Many booking agencies identified the name as a jazz quartet. Their name was later changed to Rick and The Raiders which they developed a large following. They performed at dances and covered all the latest hits and dance crazes. They actually became good. They released their only single "You Know That I Love You"/What Can I Do" (Sonic 76234)

Keyboardist Ronnie Brandon comes aboard making the group now a quartet. Later Dennis Kelly leaves for college and is replaced by Randy Hobbs on bass.

In July 1965 they were one of the opening groups for The Strangeloves, who were riding high on their hit, "I Want Candy." Shortly after that Rick and The Raiders were offered a recording contract and became The Real McCoys and later just The McCoys.

The quartet became a highly popular attraction throughout America's Midwest, and gained the attention of producers Feldman/Gottherer/Goldstein who brought them to Bert Berns' "Bang Records". The group's very first release was a simple, hard driving tune called "Hang On Sloopy", which shot to the top of the U.S. charts and reached the top 5 in the UK in the summer of 1965. That same year, John Tagenhorst, then an arranger for the Ohio State University Marching Band, created the band's now-famous arrangement of "Sloopy," first performed at the Ohio State-Illinois football game on October 9, 1965.

In 1985 Hang on Sloopy became the official rock song of the state of Ohio.

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