Sometimes it’s good to be silly. And deceitful.
Gary S. Paxton decided to record “Alley Oop” in early 1960. He knew it as a country song originally written and performed by Dallas Frazier (who later wrote “Elvira” — well known to all you Oak Ridge Boys fans) about the popular comic-strip caveman of the same name. Paxton grabbed his roommate, Kim Fowley, to co-produce, hired a few session musicians for the minimal backing, and invited some friends to sing along. The whole group got exceedingly drunk on cider and recorded the song in a single fun-filled evening.
There was only one problem. Paxton was still under contract to Brent Records as one half of Skip And Flip, a duo who had scored two Top 20 hits the previous year. As a result, he couldn’t release “Alley Oop” under his own name — so he invented a fictional band, The Hollywood Argyles (the recording studio was at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Argyle Street). When the single hit #1 a few months later, Paxton suddenly found himself in need of an actual group. He drafted a few guys to become The Hollywood Argyles but no more hits were forthcoming. They managed to milk the fame for a year or so and then moved on to other musical pastures.
Gary Paxton played a role in another huge novelty hit a few years later, while his roommate Fowley went on to become a major player on the second-tier music scene, writing and producing a few one-hit wonders, working with early incarnations of Slade and Soft Machine, and eventually forming and acting as Svengali to The Runaways in the mid-70s.
The Hollywood Argyles – Alley Oop
I have only ever heard the Beach Boys sing this and they were definitely drunk. It was recorded live at a party of some sort. I thought it odd, at the time.
He-he! That comes from the 1965 “Beach Boys’ Party!” album. One of my fave records. They’re all completely sober but trying to give the illusion of being at a slightly drunken party in someone’s living room. The song “Barbara Ann” also comes from those sessions.
I know. I owned the album, once!
Gary Paxton also recorded another version of Alley Oop during the same time period–or maybe the same party. It was call Cholley Oop by the Hong Kong White Sox. It got into the top 40 in San Francisco and Sacramento. Totally not politically correct but fun, which is more important. My mother liked it. “…A well he don’t eat nothin but a chop suey stew.”