Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ask Mr. Music by Jerry Osborne

I am continuing our new feature: Ask "Mr. Music." Now in its 23rd year of syndication (1986-2008), Jerry Osborne's weekly Q&A feature will be a regular post every Wednesday from now on. Be sure to stop by Jerry's site ( for more Mr. Music archives, record price guides, anything Elvis, buy & sell collectibles, record appraisals and much more. I thank Jerry for allowing the reprints.


DEAR JERRY: A recent episode in the current season of “Dancing with the Stars” featured jitterbug routines.

Some of the songs played to accompany the jitterbugging contestants were big hits of the past. I recall hearing Eddie Cochran's “C'mon Everybody”; Louis Prima's “Jump, Jive an' Wail”; and Louis Jordan's “Choo Choo Ch'Boogie,” not one of which was by the artist who made it famous.

Danceable as these are, what struck me is the complete lack of a song with jitterbug in the title.

You can bet if the Twist were the theme, “The Twist”; “Let's Twist Again”; “The Peppermint Twist”; “Twistin' the Night Away,” and the like, would be heard.

Other than George Michael's song in the 1980s, I can't even think of one noteworthy hit with “jitterbug” in the title.

Is that it, or are there more?
—Morgan Huff, Elkhorn, Wisc.

DEAR MORGAN: Mmmm. There may be more, depending on your definition of “noteworthy hit” and other fine points. Also, there may not be any.

The Wham! (George Michael and Andrew Ridgley) tune you reference does begin with “jitterbug” repeated four times; however, the actual title is “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” (Columbia 04552).

This huge hit reached No. 1 in November of '84, but with its non-jitter title is disqualified.

In 1963, after four Top 40 dance hits — “Bristol Stomp”; “Do the New Continental”; “Bristol Twistin' Annie”; and “Hully Gully Baby” — the Dovells released “The Jitterbug” (Parkway 855).

The title is right, but how noteworthy can a recording be that failed to even make the Top 80?

“The Jitterbug Waltz” (Bluebird 11518), a 1942 R&B Top 10 record by Fats Waller, did not make the Pop charts, and, more importantly is indeed a waltz.

Then there is Cab Calloway's 1934 “Jitter Bug,” which has even less than “The Jitterbug Waltz” to do with the style of dance that raised your question in the first place.

As evidenced by the first verse, the jitter bug in this song is a person who is a freestyle and imaginative drinker; one with a case of the jitters:

“If you'd like to be a jitter bug, first thing you must do is get a jug. Put whiskey, wine and gin within, and shake it all up and then begin. Grab a cup and start to toss. You are drinking jitter sauce. Don't you worry, you just mug, and then you'll be a jitter bug.”

Too much alcohol here for dancing … don't think we can count that one.

Still, hundreds of jitterbug recordings do exist and most have that word as part of their title. Yet by not being hits familiar to the masses, you won't hear them played on any of the televised dancing shows. Probably not on the radio either.

Jitterbug was once a catch-all name for several different dances, most notably the Lindy Hop. However, in more recent years all of those styles gather together under the “swing dance” umbrella.

IZ ZAT SO? Indeed a monster hit, “The Monster Mash” (Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers) is such a part of pop culture that questions, er, make that answers, about it even appear on “Jeopardy.”

Issued at the same time in 1962, but virtually unknown is “The Monster Twist” (Tyron A-Saurus).

That's not the only dance you've never done. Here are 20 other pre-Disco records with wacky titles about dances you probably don't remember:

“The Clyde” (Annette); “Zig-Zaggin'” (Capitols); “Do the Pug” (Don Covay); “Do the Screw” (Crystals); “The Crumble” (Diamonds); “The Munch” (Diamonds); “The Alligator Boogaloo” (Lou Donaldson); “The Beatle Bebop” (Frenchy and the Chessmen); “The Potato Peeler” (Bobby Gregg); “The U.T.” (Harry M. and the Marvels); “The Worm” (Jimmy McGriff); “The Hootch” (Pixies Three); “The Funky Donkey” (Pretty Prudie); “Ringo's Jerk” (Ron Ringo); “The Wamboo” (Del Shannon); “Doin' the Ronde” (Shirelles); “The Frog” (Sir Frog and the Toads); “Okeefenokee Two-Step” (Larry Verne); “The Centipede” (Lew Williams); and “The Kickapoo” (Jackie Wilson).

Jerry Osborne answers as many questions as possible through this column. Write Jerry at Box 255, Port Townsend, WA 98368, e-mail:, or visit his Web site: All values quoted in this column are for near-mint condition.

Copyright 2009 Osbourne Enterprises- Reprinted By Permission

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