Guest Author - Vance R. Rowe
Today is July 11, 2014 and it was this day in music history in 1960 that the novelty song Alley-Oop by the Hollywood Argyles, hit number one on the music charts. Novelty songs have been around for hundreds of years but never became as popular as they did in the 1950’s and 60’s. David Seville really got it started in the late 1950’s with such songs as Witch Doctor and the Chipmunk Song, but it took a song that was based on an a comic strip about a time traveling caveman whose name was Alley- Oop.
It was 1932 when cartoonist V.T. Hamlin created the Ally-Oop comic strip and was popular in the Sunday Comics of national and local newspapers; so popular in fact that the song made about it was the first of its kind to reach number one on the Billboard music charts. The Hollywood Argyles was fronted by lead singer Gary Paxton. Paxton was under contract with another record company at the time so he could not release the novelty song Alley Oop under his own name so he hired studio musicians who were paid twenty-five dollars apiece for their time and had to come up with a name so Gary Paxton used the name Hollywood Argyles as the studio that he recorded the song was at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Argyle Avenue.
It was a great novelty song with even greater lyrics as The cats don’t bug him ‘cause they know bettah/ ‘cause he’s a mean motah scootah and a bad go gettah. The song also tells us that he is from the comic strips and his means of transportation is on a dinosaur. The song is also set to a doo-wop tune. The song really started off the music genre of something called Bubblegum pop.
While Alley Oop was the first novelty song to hit number one on the charts in 1960, it wasn’t the only one to do that. A month later, Brian Hyland told us a story who about a shy little girl who was afraid to go out onto the beach because of her Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini. That novelty song hit number one on the charts on August 8, 1960 and started a trend with novelty songs that became popular through the 1970’s.