“Splish Splash” is a 1958 song performed and co-written by Bobby Darin. It was written with DJ Murray the K (Murray Kaufman), who bet that Darin couldn’t write a song that began with the words, “Splish Splash, I was takin’ a bath”, as suggested by Murray’s mother, Jean Kaufman. The song was credited to Darin and “Jean Murray” (a combination of their names) to avoid any hint of payola. The song helped to give Darin a major boost in his career, reaching No. 3 on the U.S. pop singles chart. It was recorded in a session at New York’s Atlantic Studios on the evening of April 10, 1958. The personnel on the original recording included Jesse Powell on tenor sax, Al Caiola, Billy Mure on guitar, Wendell Marshall on bass, and Panama Francis on drums.
Original copies of “Splish Splash” (Atco 6117) feature echo in the song. For the reissue (Atlantic Oldies Series 13055), the echo is filtered out.
The lyrics mention several characters from other songs of the period, including “Lollipop”, “Peggy Sue”, and “Good Golly Miss Molly”.
However in an interview, former classmate Jerrold Atlas claimed that “Miss Molly” referred to Molly Epstein, Darin’s former English teacher at the Bronx High School of Science. “She taught him to use the language in staccato notes: short fast, words…She was very fond of Bobby. Bobby told me she sharpened his respect for language”.
This was Darin’s first hit, and in a 1967 interview, Darin claimed that he was so happy about having his first hit that his skin condition cleared up.
British comedian Charlie Drake scored a top ten hit with a comedy version of the song in 1958, produced by future Beatles producer George Martin on the Parlophone label. The song was remade in 1979 by Barbra Streisand for her album Wet. It features new lyrics by Streisand and backing vocals from Toto lead singer Bobby Kimball and Chicago keyboardist Bill Champlin.
The song was featured in the trailer for the Patrick Dempsey film Loverboy. The song appears in the soundtrack for the 1998 movie, You’ve Got Mail, and also in an episode of Happy Days where Richie Cunningham becomes a DJ, ‘Richie The C’ (possibly a play on Murray the K). It was also featured as a DTV music video on The Disney Channel, set mostly to clips of Disney characters bathing, particularly from the 1948 cartoon Mickey and the Seal (illustrating the singer’s bath in the first verse), but also Mickey’s Birthday Party (to illustrate the party he walks in on). Kevin Spacey performs the song in the Bobby Darin biopic Beyond the Sea.
The song can also be heard in the films Because of Winn-Dixie and Air Bud. The song is also partially sung in 2012 film The Dictator, when the main character, General Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen) plays a practical joke on his new friend (Jason Mantzoukas) by singing the song with a decapitated head as a hand puppet, while his friend is taking a shower.
In 1976, Barry Williams, Maureen McCormick, Donny Osmond and Marie Osmond performed the song on The Brady Bunch Variety Hour.
In both the English and German versions of Animals United, Billy the Meerkat sings this song while taking a shower, but it’s cut off by Toto the Chimpanzee.