The Olympics (band)
Not to be confused with Olympic (band).
The Olympics are an American doo-wop group, formed in 1957 by lead singer Walter Ward (August 28, 1940 – December 11, 2006). The group included Eddie Lewis (tenor, Ward’s cousin), Charles Fizer (tenor), Walter Hammond (baritone) and Melvin King (bass) and except for Lewis were friends in a Los Angeles, California, high school.
In 1959 the group recorded “(Baby) Hully Gully,” which initiated the hully gully dance craze. “Big Boy Pete,” which the group released in 1960, served as inspiration for The Kingsmen’s “Jolly Green Giant.” Over the next ten years The Olympics recorded upbeat R&B songs, often about dances popular at the time.
For the 1959 song, see Hully Gully (song)
The Hully Gully is a type of unstructured line dance often considered to have originated in the sixties, but is also mentioned some forty years earlier as a dance common in the black juke joints in the first part of the twentieth century. In its modern form it consisted of a series of “steps” that are called out by the MC. Each step was relatively simple and easy to execute; however, the challenge was to keep up with the speed of each step.
The phrase “Hully Gully” or “Hull da Gull” comes from a folk game in which a player shakes a handful of nuts or seeds and asks his opponent “Hully Gully, how many?”
The Hully Gully was started by Frank Rocco at the Cadillac Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida. In 1959 The Olympics sang the song “Hully Gully”, which involved no physical contact at all. In 1961 the Olympics version of the song was popularized in the south of England by the first version of Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band and involved the audience facing the stage in lines and dancing the steps of the “Southampton jive”. The same tune appeared in 1961 in a song by the Marathons, entitled “Peanut Butter”, which was later used for the Peter Pan Peanut Butter commercial during the 1980s. Tim Morgan sang different lyrics to the song “Peanut Butter” as well, however, only mentioning the Skippy” brand. There was another song about the dance by the Dovells, entitled “Hully Gully Baby”. The Jive Five had a hit called “Hully Gully Callin’ Time”; Ike & Tina Turner had a song in their repertoire known as “If You Can Hully Gully (I Can Hully Gully Too)”. Ed Sullivan mentioned the Cadillac Hotel as “Home of the Hully Gully” on his weekly show, featuring some dancers from Frank Rocco’s revue. Known as “Mr. Hully Gully”, Rocco then toured America (including the 1964 New York World’s Fair—he danced it with Goldie Hawn) and Europe, where over the next year he taught the dance at the NATO Base in Naples, Italy, in Rome, and all over Europe.