A Bit Like You And Me Radio

March 05, 2013

The Rivingtons - Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow (1962)

Although the band name above was created in the very early 1960s, the men behind the name had been performing with one another for quite some time before that. Their lead singer, Al Frazier, had been in groups since high school. One group he was in, the Mello-Moods, is notable for containing a future member of The Platters, Paul Robi. That group fizzled when Frazier left to fight in The Korean War. When he came back, he quickly got back into the swing of things and picked up the other members of this group piece by piece with a new band name each time along the way. The Emanons (“no name” backward), The Lamplighters, The Tenderfoots, The Jacks, The Sharps, The Rebels, The Four After Fives, and The Crenshaws were all various attempts at stardom with little or no success. Finally, around early 1962, the band renamed themselves after a street in New York’s Lower East Side that two of the members had at one point lived on: Rivington Street. Finally, with their new name, The Rivingtons, the group broke out into the charts with the 1962 song heard below. They would follow it up with their 1963 hit “The Bird’s the Word,” but disappeared from the public’s eye soon after. Although they lost their record deal and had trouble getting resigned by 1967, the band continued to perform through the early ‘90s in various oldies circuits. Al Frazier passed away on November 13th, 2005.

As The Rivingtons’ first hit in their already lengthy career, this song came about when the group’s bass singer, Turner “Rocky” Wilson, began to sing the “papa-oom-mow-mow” hook while goofing off in the studio. Naturally the rest of the group loved it and they built a song around it. After being turned down for release by Capitol Records the song eventually went to Liberty Records who waited six months before releasing it because they “couldn’t figure out how to market such a nonsensical song.” Once released, however, the song was a hit and reached number forty-eight on the Billboard’s and thirty-five on the Cashbox charts. The song went on to inspire numerous artists to cover it and sample it, including The Trashmen, The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, Kermit the Frog, and more recently Rob Zombie. The Trashmen merged the song with another Rivingtons' hit, “The Bird’s the Word,” renamed the two “Surfin’ Bird,” took the song to number four. But, heard below, is the original as created by The Rivingtons.

album art

The Rivingtons - Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow (1962)

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Lyrics:

(Doot-doot-doot)
(Doot-doot-doot)

The funniest sound I ever heard
And I can't understand a single word
Now is he serious or is he playing?
“Oom-mow-mow” is all he's saying
Papa-oom
Papa-papa-papa-oom
(Doot-doot-doot)
(Doot-doot-doot)

I said, “Hey there partner, what's your name?”
Now don’t you dare tell me, “the same old thing”
The words you sing, I can’t figure out
But you’ve got a sound, make me stomp and shout
Papa-oom
Papa-papa-papa-oom
(Doot-doot-doot doot doot)
(Doot-doot-doot doot doot)
(Doot-doot-doot)
(Doot-doot-doot)
(Doot-doot-doot)

(Doot-doot-doot doot doot)
(Doot-doot-doot doot doot)
(Doot-doot-doot doot doot)
(Doot-doot-doot doot doot)

Now I hear this sound everywhere I go
On the records, TV, and the radio
And now it’s spread all over the land
I still can’t seem to understand
Papa-oom
Papa-papa-papa-oom
Papa-oom
(Doot doot doot)
(Doot-doot-doot)
Papa-oom
(Doot doot doot)
(Doot-doot-doot)
Papa-papa-papa-oom
(Doot doot doot)
Papa-papa-papa-oom
(Doot doot doot)
Papa-papa-papa-oom
(Doot doot doot)
Papa-papa-papa-oom
(Doot doot doot)…

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