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Thursday, November 06, 2014

Hang On Sloopy

You probably have heard this song many times on the radio and have utterly no clue what this song is about.

You're not the only one. In fact, almost everyone who's ever heard this song has scratched their heads wondering what this song is about.

For example, here's the opening lyrics:

Hang on, Sloopy
Sloopy, hang on
Hang on, Sloopy
Sloopy, hang on

Sloopy lives in a very bad part of town
And everybody, yeah, tries to put my Sloopy down
Sloopy, I don't care what your daddy do
'Cause you know, Sloopy, girl, I'm in love with you....



Now wait a minute. OK, the song is about a poor girl who "lives in a very bad part of town"

But Sloopy?

Was it a typo? And she was really Sleepy? Or Sloppy? Or even a vague reference to Snoopy, the Peanuts comic dog? Or even Soupy, as in the comedian Soupy Sales?

But even if it was, the song would still be way off. Certainly not the most charming way to seduce a poor girl in even the very worst part of town (try it and see.)


There aren't any girls whatsoever I can recall even nicknamed "Sloopy". And even fewer who would put up with a guy who would call her that without filing a court order.

Why Sloopy?

So it was finally time to get answers once and for all.

Dorothy Sloop...also known as Dottie Sloop, was an American jazz pianist. She was born in Steubenville, Ohio and went by the nickname "Sloopy". During her performing years, she was best known as a pianist with a number of all (or mostly) female jazz bands in the New Orleans area, primarily from the 1930s through the 1950s.

She recorded an album, "Sloopy Time" Featuring Dixie and Sloopy, in 1957 with Yvonne "Dixie" Fasnacht, a jazz vocalist and clarinetist.

The LP was released on Golden Crest Records. Golden Crest released many albums from C and D List stars as well as countless high school choral and marching band records in the 1950s to the 1970s. It ended as a classical label before folding in 1982.
"Dixie" Fasnacht operated a bar called Dixie's Bar of Music on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. It was there that Dorothy's acquaintance and co-writer of "Hang On Sloopy" Bert Berns-Russell found the inspiration for the song. During problems with the sound equipment and a crowd getting rowdy, he heard a regular call out to her "Hang on, Sloopy!"

However, The McCoys weren't the first to record this song. It was originally recorded by The Vibrations in 1964 and titled "My Girl Sloopy". It's been performed by hundreds of rock acts, under both titles.

The Vibrations' version charted in the Top 30. After The McCoys version topped the charts, The Ohio State University Marching Band adopted "Hang On Sloopy" as it's theme song (Dorothy Sloop was also an OSU alum.)

Years later Sloopy earned a master's in English from the University of Florida, and taught special needs children in St. Petersburg. After retiring, Sloopy moved to Pass Christian, Miss., near her daughter Jane in Biloxi. A 1983 newspaper interview said her "saloon days" were over, but she still played gigs on occasion.

Dorothy "Sloopy" Sloop died in 1998. She never earned a penny in royalties from "Hang On Sloopy" and never sought out publicity from the song. Tragically, her personal memorabilia were destroyed in Hurricane Katrina.

More On "Hang On Sloopy"


  1. Bizarre timing. I was visiting my ailing dad today, and he asked me to turn on his cd player. I immediately recognized the Best Damn Band in the Land - the OSU Marching Band's "Buckeye Battle Cry." Eventually "Hang On Sloopy" came on.

    Dad asked me if I knew the history of the song. I couldn't remember the name of the McCoys, but I remembered the video. He said that Sloopy was from Steubenville, Ohio.

    When I got home I axed Mr. Google. He told me that an R&B group from L.A. (The Vibrations) recorded it a year earlier as "My Girl Sloopy," so I thought it was a typical ripoff by a pop band. How could a group from L.A. know about a girl from Steubenville Ohio?

    Then I spotted the names of the song writers and it all made sense.

    Nice sleuthing. You beat me to it.

  2. Sloopy attended Ohio University in Athens, not Ohio State. http://www.athensnews.com/ohio/switch.php?str=Sloopy&imageField.x=0&imageField.y=0&control=gsearch.c&c=articles


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