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If we think of iconic songs from the first half of the 60’s, that represent the spirit of Frat Rock, “Louie Louie” quickly comes to my mind, in The Kingsmen’s version, “Shout” by The Isley Brothers, “Double Shot Of My Baby´s Love ”in the version of The Swingin´Medallions,“ little Latin Lupe Lu ”by The Righteous Brothers,“ Wooly Bully ”by Sam The Sham & The Pharaos,“ Hang On Sloopy ”by The McCoys or the song which this post is about, “Hanky ​​Panky”.

Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich composed “Hanky ​​Panky” in 1963. The song was originally intended to fill in the B-side of The Raindrops’ single “That Boy John” by Barry and Greenwich group, they wrote it in 20 minutes and as Barry explained in an interview, the song seemed terrible to them, one of the worst song they had composed, they never thought that the song could become a success later, it was a filler song for a B-side made on the run, you have to have considering that the couple had a very high bar, they composed songs like “Be My Baby”, “Chapel of Love”, “Leader of the Pack” or “Da Doo Ron Ron”.

The Raindrops Single with the song “That Boy John” managed to reach number 64 in the charts, but his B-side did not go unnoticed, and already in 1963 The Summits made a very good R&B version of the code, to my liking of the best that have been recorded on this subject, although without any success. Little by little the song became a classic in the repertoire of groups of Frat Rock, or first-timer Garage, and it was very common for these types of groups to cover it live. That’s how Tommy James discovered the song, one night he was heard playing a Garage band at a club in South Bend, Indiana. “I really only remembered a few lines from the song, so when we went to record it, I had to improvise the rest of the song,” James explained in an interview. “I just rebuilt it from what I remembered.” The version of The Shondells changes the lyrics of the original a bit, in The Raindrops the Drifters, The Tokens and The Coasters are named and in The Shondells there is a small suggestion of a sexual nature in addition to omitting the aforementioned groups.

The version of The Shondells, which was the name of the Tommy James group at the time, was recorded in February 1964, on a local radio station, WNIL in Niles, Michigan, and was released on the local label Snap Records, the single performed very well in the Michigan, Indiana and Illinois area, but having no national distribution after a while simply disappeared.

The Shondells had been formed while its members were at school, under the name of Tom and the Tornadoes, James was 12 years old when he started with the group. Later, with their members already in high school, James decided to rename the group as The Shondells, in honour of one of their idols, the guitarist Troy Shondell, and thus, under this name is how they recorded “Hanky ​​Panky”. Like so many groups of that time, after finishing this school period they decided to dissolve. Only Tommy James had decided to continue his musical career.

In 1965, James found himself with little job prospects, but his luck changed when Pittsburgh disc jockey “Mad Mike” Metrovich contacted him. Metrovich was constantly putting on the “Hanky ​​Panky” version of The Shondells, and the album had become a hit in that area. James decided to assemble The Shondells and relaunch the song, he did not succeed, since none of the members of the group was willing to return to the world of music, for them it had only been a hobby while they studied, so James travelled to Pittsburgh, to search for a band and it was there that The Raconteurs stumbled, who would become the new Shondells.

Quickly, Tommy James & The Shondells, which was now the name of the group, got appearances on television and in city clubs, James brought the master of “Hanky ​​Panky” to New York, where he sold it to Roulette Records. Oddly, the song was never re-recorded, as James himself has said on more than one occasion, “I don’t think anybody can record such a bad song and make it sound good. It had to sound like a group of fans. I think so we would have re-recorded it we would have spoiled it. ” The song was released by Roulette quickly reached n.# 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA, for two weeks in July 1966. From here on Tommy James & The Shondells became one of the most successful Pop groups of the 60’s, with a lot of International successes such as “I Think We’re Alone Now”, “Mony Mony”, “Sweet Cherry Wine”, “Crystal Blue Persuasion”, “Gettin ‘Together” or “Crimson And Clover”, with the latter They achieved their second No. 1 in the USA.

Thanks to the Tommy James version, “Hanky Panky” became one of the youth anthems of the 1960s and over the years has had hundreds of versions. The Cramps, The Ventures, Neil Diamond, The Rivieras, The Outsiders, Joan Jett, The Sonics, Link Protrudi, The Mojo Men, Rita Chao and many more have recorded or played it live. Undoubtedly, it is still one of those indispensable songs in a good party, one of those that incites to shout “Toga, Toga, Toga”.

Juanmy “The Hunter”

My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky

My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky

I saw her walkin’ on down the line
You know I saw her for the very first time
A pretty little girl standin’ all alone
“Hey pretty baby, can I take you home?”
I never saw her, never really saw her

My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky

I saw her walkin’ on down the line
You know I saw her for the very first time
A pretty little girl standin’ all alone
“Hey pretty baby, can I take you home?”
I never saw her, never really saw her

My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky

My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky
My baby does the hanky panky

This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)

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