First off, the song really is Hang on Sloopy, not Hang on Snoopy. Common mistake.
We all know who Snoopy is, but who is this mystery person? Why is there a song with their name in it?
Keep reading to get the answers and take a deep dive into this catchy melody from the 1960s.
Let’s get started!
About the Song, Hang On Sloopy
Wes Farrell and Bert Berns, New York City’s best-known songwriters in the 60s, wrote Hang on Sloopy. However, rumors about the author of the song have circulated for years. Some speculate that a St. Louis high school student wrote the lyrics and sold it to Bert Berns. We may never really know.
Hang On Sloopy was made famous by The McCoys in 1965, but did you know that wasn’t the original release of the song? It was first recorded as My Girl Sloopy by the Vibrations in late 1963. This first release reached #26 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and it reached #5 on the UK Singles Chart.
So how did an OK song from 1963 become a hit two years later and eventually a state song? Berns knew the song had more potential. Only making it to #26 was not enough for him. So he reached out to The Strangeloves to find a band that could record a rock version of the song.
They suggested The McCoys, a garage band from Dayton founded by Rick Zehringer, now known by his stage name Rick Derringer. It was Derringer that proposed changing the song name to Hang on Sloopy.
The rock version by the McCoys rose to #1 on the pop charts on October 2, 1965. It spent a few more months in the Top 40. To date, over six million copies of the song have been sold.
So, Who’s Sloopy?
In the 1940s and 1950s, a woman named Dorothy Sloop sang Jazz at the famous Dixie’s Bar of Music in New Orleans. During one of her performances, she was harassed by audience members. A couple of young guys came to her defense and shouted, “Hang in there, Sloopy!”
The young men were Wes Farrell and Bert Berns, the Jazz singer was Sloopy, and a few months later, Hang on Sloopy came out. This is how the story goes. The only evidence we have are some vague pages from Sloop’s seven-page memoir and her daughter, Jane Heflick’s word.
What Else Do We Know About Dorothy Sloop?
She was born on September 26, 1913, lived in Steubenville, Ohio, and attended Ohio University. She began playing piano at a very young age and was quite good at it. Before becoming Sloopy, her nickname was Dottie.
She left Steubenville to join the all-girl group Southland Rhythm Girls in NYC. The group played in top clubs and high society events. She left the city and the group with Dixie Fasnacht, the founder of Southland Rhythm Girls. Fasnacht started Dixie’s Bar of Music, and she gave Dottie her new nickname of Sloopy. The two of them performed together as “Dixie and Sloopy.”
How Did Hang On Sloopy Become Ohio’s State Rock Song?
Not only was it a hit for The McCoys, but the catchy number also became Ohio’s state song.
Initially, the Ohio State University (OSU) band started playing it during football games. John Tatgenhorst’s idea was to take the hit track and arrange it for the band. OSU was already playing contemporary tunes, but nothing like this one. OSU played the song for the first time on October 9, 1965. It has since become one of OSU’s most loved traditions.
But that still doesn’t explain how it became Ohio’s State Rock Song.
Fast forward nearly 20 years.
Joe Dirck, who worked for the Columbus Citizen-Journal, found out that Louie Louie was in the running to become Washington’s state song. He wrote a series of articles for the newspaper about state songs, and one of them mentioned Hang on Sloopy as a good fit for Ohio.
It turns out Dirck knew Derringer from The McCoys. He reached out to Ohio-Rep Mike Stinziano for support too. The song was already OSU’s fight song, and The McCoys are from Ohio. Derringer and Stinziano rallied support for the music, and on November 20, 1985, Hang on Sloopy became Ohio’s state rock song.
Who Else Covered Hang On Sloopy?
Since its first release in 1963, more than 100 bands and musicians have covered this catchy number. The McCoys were the first to cover the song back in 1965.
Jimi Hendrix did a version of the track live with Curtis Knight and the Squires at George’s Club 20 in the mid-1960s. Hendrix wowed with his guitar skills and raw vocals. In 1966 Don Ho sang it live as a mashup with Twist and Shout in Hawaii and added a jazzy tropical flair to the tune.
More than 20 years after its first release, the song continued to be covered. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played the number during a 1999 concert at OSU’s Schottenstein Center in Columbus. The melody has also been performed by The Outcasts (1985), Smashing Pumpkins (2009), and the Rolling Stones (2015.)
Additionally, the ditty has been remade by bands in various languages, including Finnish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.
Sloopy’s Hanging On
Now we all know everything we need to know about the song, right? Well, if you are anything like us, you might find yourself on the Internet for the next few hours listening to a lot of other covers. What do you think? Do you feel like you know who Sloopy is now?