Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo

Rock n roll hoochie koo tits.jpg

Date Aired
December 1, 2017
Running Time
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Todd plays "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo" on the piano

A one-hit wonder retrospective

Todd: Welcome back to One Hit Wonderland, where we take a look at bands and artists known for only one song. And today, I want to listen to some rock 'n' roll!

Video for Imagine Dragons - "Thunder"

Todd (VO): No, damn it! I said some.....

Todd: ......rock and roll! Some real rock and roll! Rock and roll you can blast out of your [image of a...] burnt orange muscle car and [image of man with mullet standing by a Camaro] let your mullet whip by in the breeze. So today, we're going to listen to a nice thick slab of southern-fried, hard-boogieing rock music. With like, guitar and everything! Eat that, Imagine Dragons!

[clip of "Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo," Todd air guitars in his chair]

Rick Derringer: Couldn't stop movin' when it first took hold

It was a cold-spring night at the old town hall

Todd (VO): Yeah, turn it up! This is the pinnacle of '70s southern blues mullet boogie rock!

Todd: Although I guess this song predates mullets by a few years [album cover of "Rick Derringer Joyride: Solo Albums 1973-1980"], judging by this man's glorious feathered hair. But yeah, it's the best.

Todd (VO): [Clips of Foghat performing...] "Slow Ride" never did it for me, [...Mountain performing...] "Mississippi Queen", take it or leave it, [...and Brownsville Station performing...] "Smokin' in the Boys Room," pass.

Todd: No, for me, the real high point of this genre is [back to ......] "Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo," the glorious only hit from unfairly forgotten guitar god Rick Derringer.

Rick: Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo

Backup singers: Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo

Todd (VO): And yet, unless you were there at the time, or you obsessively listened to [cover of.......] the "Dazed and Confused" soundtrack, you might not know this song at all. I don't think it became a classic rock staple the way [single covers of.......] "Feel Like Makin' Love" [by Bad Company...] or "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet" [by Bachman-Turner Overdrive] did, both inferior songs. How did that happen? This song ranked as high as #23 in the spring of 1974, at a time when the Hot 100 was mostly things like [clip of John Denver performing...] "Sunshine On My Shoulders." If it was that popular, how could it have gotten left behind? Well, here's my theory. Radio stations stopped playing it, because it is, in fact...

Todd: titled "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo." Yeh?

Rick: Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo

Backup singers: Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo

Todd (VO): That's, uh...that's a song title, alright. I mean, he's certainly not ashamed of it. They're just belting it out. See, Rick Derringer loved two things: rock and roll...

Todd: ...and hoochie koo. And he combined them into...

Rick: Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo

Todd: Um... (throws his arms up)

Rick: Somebody's searching for rocking!

Before the hit.

Todd: Okay, Rick Derringer's technically not Southern, he's from Ohio. Which is even better. Real rock comes out of the heartland!

Todd (VO): And he started a band in the early 60's with the All-American name, "The McCoys."

[Clip of... wait for it...]

And in 1965, when he and his bandmates were still in high school, The McCoys had a monster massive #1 hit, making Derringer the rare double one-hit wonder! Todd: Maybe I should make this a two-part episode! But that's extra work, so screw it.

Rick: Sloopy lives in a very bad part of town

Todd (VO): Anyway, the song is "Hang On Sloopy." You probably know it if you remember the 60's, or listened to, like, any oldies at all, or you went to Ohio State.

[Clip of Ohio State marching band playing "Hang On Sloopy"]

Todd (VO): It's about this girl, Sloopy, who everyone picks on because she's from the wrong side of the tracks. And also because her parents named her Sloopy.

The McCoys: Sloopy, I don't care what your daddy do

Todd (VO): I do care, though, that he named you Sloopy.

Todd: What the hell kind of name is that? It's, like, a dog's name.

Todd (VO): Anyway, Derringer played lead guitar, and...check this out.

[Clip of Derringer's guitar solo]

Todd (VO): Geez, slow down Satriani. That is some serious shred for a pre-Clapton, pre-Hendrix garage song.

Todd: Most of these bands could barely play at all.

Clip of The Troggs performing...

Todd (VO): If you got the guys who played "Wild Thing" to play ["Hang On Sloopy" continues] this, their fingers would fall off.

Clip from Hullabaloo

Leslie Uggams: And here are The McCoys with their latest big hit, "Fever."

Todd (VO): Okay, The McCoys are technically not one-hit wonders because they had a handful of other, lesser hits. Here's their cover of the old Peggy Lee standard, "Fever." It went to the Top 10, and... Todd: ...sounds exactly like "Hang On Sloopy."

The McCoys: You give me fever, when you kiss me

Todd (VO): Matter of fact, all their songs sounded like "Hang On Sloopy." Anyway, after the hits dried up... Todd: ...the band went their separate ways, and Derringer joined a new band.

Clip of live performance of "Johnny B. Goode" by...

Todd (VO): You see this weird-looking guy here? This guy is Johnny Winter. [Image of Johnny & Edgar Winter - The Ultimate Collection] Now, his brother Edgar is the only one who ever scored any hits, but Johnny was a blues legend. Dude could play. In fact, he probably didn't need backup at all, but he recruited Derringer to join his new band, [image of poster for] "Johnny Winter And." Todd: ...that's it, just "Johnny Winter And." And who? And nobody!

Clip of Johnny Winter And performing "Rollin' and Tumblin'"

Todd (VO): You don't get a name! I'm Johnny Winter!

Todd: You're nothing!

Todd (VO): I kid, he did a lot of work for the Winter brothers. [Red arrow points at Derringer with the caption: "Rick!"] Not only as a side man, he also produced all of Edgar's big hits.

Clip of the Edgar Winter Group - "Free Ride"

Edgar Winter Group: Come on and take a free ride (Free ride)

Red arrow reappears and points at Derringer with the caption: "Rick!"

Todd (VO): Yeah, awesome, right? Todd: And he even got to record some music of his own!

Clip of live performance of... wait for it...

Edgar Winter: He's just finished an album of his own, which I had the pleasure of playing on. We're gonna do a song from it right now. He's an excellent writer and guitarist and good friend of ours, Rick Derringer!

The Big Hit Todd: I just love the way this song builds, it's like a motorcycle revving up.

Clip of a motorcycle revving plays over the song's introduction

Rick: I couldn't stop moving when it first took hold

Todd (VO): So anyway, in 1973, Rick Derringer released [image of album artwork for All American Boy] his debut album, seen here with absolutely [zooms in on Derringer's face] terrifying artwork. The first single, "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo" hit the Top 40 and peaked in March of '74, proving once and for all... Todd: ...that Homer Simpson was right.

Clip from The Simpsons episode "Homerpalooza"

Homer (Dan Castellaneta): Everyone knows that rock attained perfection in 1974, it's a scientific fact.

Todd (VO): What I think elevates this song above the average classic rock song, is just that it is filled with hooks. Like that little riff in between each line.

Rick: We were rollin' in the grass that grows behind the barn

Todd (VO): [sings the riff] But of course, the real hook is in the chorus. And if you really wanna get it... Todd: should listen to the original version.

Clip of Johnny Winter performing "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo"

Todd (VO): See, Rick originally gave this song to Johnny Winter a few years before this. And his version goes a little bit more like this.

Johnny Winter: Rock and roll, hoochie koo, Lordy mama, light my fuse

Todd: My God, it's barely the same song at all! Where are the backup singers?

Back to Rick Derringer

Rick: Rock and roll, hoochie koo (Rock and roll, hoochie koo)

Todd (VO): That's more like it. And, you know, God bless the band who are yelling their hearts out there, but for the full effect, you really need to hear the studio version with the soul singers really belting it out.

Studio version plays over artwork for "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo" single

Rick: Rock and roll, hoochie koo (Rock and roll, hoochie koo)

Todd: I looked them up.

Todd (VO): [Image of Lani Groves] One of them was the backup for Stevie Wonder, [images of Carl Hall and Tasha Thomas] the other two were cast members in The Wiz. [Clip of...] I mean, like, the good Wiz on Broadway, not the movie.

Todd: So that's some serious soul pedigree right there. And that's what's always put the best Southern rock over the top.

Clip of Lynyrd Skynyrd performing "Sweet Home Alabama"

Todd (VO): I mean, without the backup singers, Lynyrd Skynyrd was just another Grand Funk. This is an exaggeration, lay off, Skynyrd people. Todd: But anyway, let's get to the big question. What's with that title?

Rick: Rock and roll, hoochie koo (Rock and roll, hoochie koo)

Todd (VO): I mean, the song is such a glorious celebration of rock music. Why is he pairing "Rock and Roll" with the sound you make when you tickle a baby?

Todd: Is it supposed to be a rock and roll lullaby song? [Image of album art for Rockabye Baby! - Lullaby Renditions of Kiss] Which exists, by the way. Okay, look, hoochie koo means sex.

Todd (VO): I mean, that was probably obvious to a lot of you, but in case you couldn't figure it out, it's old-timey blues slang for sex.

Todd: Rock and Roll, Giggity Giggity.

Todd (VO): So it might sound a little dumb now, but back in the day, people would've recognized that it meant sex and/or electric blues. So, you know, laugh it up.

Todd: 60 years from now, YOLO is also gonna sound like baby talk.

Rick: The way they wiggle that thing really knocks me out

Todd (VO): Other than that, the lyrics are a whole mess of classic rock cliches. Which, for the record, were probably not cliches yet at the time. You know, "lordy mama," "light my fuse," all the good stuff.

Rick: The skeeters started buzzin' 'bout this time a year, I'm going 'round back, said she'd meet me there (NOT A RHYME)

Todd: Sorry. I, I know I push the "Not A Rhyme" button too often, but that's pretty egregious, right?

Rick: 'Cha know I'm never gonna lose that funky sound

Todd (VO): Hey, I got a question. Did "funk" mean something different in the mid-'70's? [Images of artwork for Grand Funk - Live Album...] Like, a lot of these guitar guys, they were [...and James Gang - "Funk #49"] pretty proud of their funk. Todd: Sorry, it's just...not what I think of when I think of funky music.

Rick: When my ears started ringin' like a fire alarm

Todd (VO): No, I kid, you know, it's a song about meeting girls, listening to hard rock music. Exactly the stuff you want in a rock and roll song. Todd: And he makes that guitar scream!

Clip of guitar solo

Todd (VO): This song has enough rock and roll for an entire career.

Todd: But let's see how he followed it up.

The failed follow-up

Clip of live performance of "Teenage Love Affair"

Todd (VO): The second song only barely scraped onto the Hot 100, it's called "Teenage Love Affair".

Rick: She was a cute little thing about fifteen

She liked to make the schoolboys stare

It was an instant cosmic need

A teenage love affair

Todd: Uh, okay, with the climate right now I feel like I should clarify: the narrator of this song is probably also a teenager.

Todd (VO): It's, it's not explicit, but, you know, I'm pretty sure. I-It's implied. So it's not skeevy.

Todd: [beat] It's not!

Band: Teenage love affair, a teenage love affair

Todd (VO): But I don't know. "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo" had, like, a billion hooks; I'm not- I'm not seeing a lot in this one. I mean, it's fast and aggressive, but it's not gonna set the world on fire. Todd: But to be fair, there was an alternate theory to why the follow-ups never took off. It was because they were from [zooms in on All American Boy album cover] this album! This is not good marketing! This is the worst cover illustration I've ever seen, including [image of Microwave for One by Sonia Allison] the one for this cookbook. But nothing else ever really took off, either.

Clip of Rick Derringer performing

Todd (VO): The word about him was that he was more of a live act, and his songs didn't really translate into the studio. Or to singles, for that matter. He only ever released a few, like, separate singles. Todd: But here's one of them.

Clip of music video for... wait for it...

Todd: It's, um... it's-it's just "Hang On Sloopy" again.

Rick: And so I say, now, hang on, Sloopy, Sloopy hang on

Todd: Wow, this is so much more annoying than the original. Todd (VO): Cheesy organ and, uh...

Clip of...

Todd (VO): A marimba solo?! You're Rick Derringer, man! Where's the guitar?! This sounds like The Partridge Family! And "Hang On Sloopy" was only, like, ten years old at that point. It's not like we needed an update at all, let alone a cheesy, bubblegum cod-reggae version.

Clip of Rick Derringer performing "Still Alive and Well"

Todd (VO): And he recorded a whole bunch of more stuff, some with his self-titled band, others solo, but you know, they didn't fly. Especially not when he tried to release singles for the pop market.

Clip of Rick Derringer performing "Something Warm"

Rick: I'm looking for something warm, I'm hungry and thirsty, just gotta find something...

Todd (VO): No. No. This is not at all what I want from my Rick Derringer. Cancel this.

Did he ever do anything else?

Todd: Oh, yes. In fact, I bet a bunch of you do know one Rick Derringer song and it isn't the hit. And you've just been waiting for it this entire time. Well, let's kick it. Are you ready, brother??

Rick Derringer - "Real American"

Rick: I am a real American, fight for the rights of every man. I'm a real American; fight for what's right, fight for your life

Todd: [Todd is shown imitating Hulk Hogan's poses in the video, until he is seen unsuccessfully trying to rip his hoodie apart] Man, this is a tough shirt.

Todd (VO): Yes, he did Hulk Hogan's theme song, "Real American". And yeah, this song is cheesy and it's dated, but goddamn, does it make me feel proud to be from the US of A.

Todd: Like, a lot of these "rah-rah" patriotic songs, especially the ones recently, have, like, this ugly streak to them.

Todd (VO): But "Real American" is just so innocent, it's, you know, it's so obviously from the part of the '80s when no one was thinking very hard. [Imitating Hogan] Hulk-a-mania's gonna run wild, brother!! [Normally] Ah, and then he became "Hollywood Hogan" and an entire generation lost their innocence.

Todd: But anyway, besides that song, well... you would not believe it.

Clip of Rick Derringer performing "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo"

Todd (VO): He has had a hand in so much rock music. For decades. For example, you know punk legend [clip of live performance of "Gloria" by] Patti Smith? She co-wrote some of his songs. [Image of Rick with...] Also, his wife Liz was close with Andy Warhol, so... Todd: he'd be tight with Andy Warhol and [image of Derringer and Warhol together, with both their names captioned] The Velvet Underground. [A third caption appears, reading "Ted Nugent?!?"] I mean, what?! Really, I mean, that's like finding out [image of Vogue cover of] Marina Abramović is tight with [image of] Papa Roach.

Clip of Steely Dan performing "Reelin' in the Years" on The Midnight Special

Todd (VO): He's also credited with helping kick-start the careers of Steely Dan, who, you know, he played with a couple times. And a decade after that, he [clip of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" by...] helped discover Cyndi Lauper. He's the guitarist on [clips of Bonnie Tyler's...] "Total Eclipse of the Heart", and [Air Supply's...] "Making Love Out of Nothing at All". [clip of guitar solo plays] Yeah, you think the guy from Air Supply can play like this? No. Rick played that. Todd: Also, and this is totally true, he produced all of [clips of "Like a Surgeon" by...] Weird Al's albums in the '80s, [and...] and played the guitar solo on "Eat It".

Guitar explodes

Weird Al: Just eat it (eat it)

Todd: I swear to God, I am not making this up.

Clip of "Weird Al" Yankovic interview

Weird Al: It was just amazing to be able to work with Rick Derringer, you know, I've always been such a huge fan of his. I mean, growing up, I-I, you know, loved "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo"...

Todd: Derringer has two Grammys for producing "Eat It" and [clip of] "Fat". See, isn't that great?

Clip of Rick Derringer performing in the present day

Todd (VO): And he's continued to tour and tour and play, even up to today at age 70. And also in recent years, he found Jesus, [clip of Derringer speaking at the Marantha Church of the Nazarene], became super active in far-right nationalist politics, and debuted a new version of "Real American" on [clip of] The Alex Jones Program.

Todd: [beat] Well, that's a downer. [beat] So much for fighting for the rights of every man. [beat] Man, this is not the note I wanted to end this on.

Did he deserve better?

Todd: Let's say he deserves to be better-known.

Clip of "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo"

Todd (VO): Now, your average rock fan probably won't recognize the guy's name, but they should. Then again, if he was more known, that Alex Jones shit would probably stain his reputation irreparably.

Todd: Sorry, that, that just took the wind out of my sails. You know, no!

Todd (VO): I'm not gonna let it ruin his work for me. The man is one of the great sidemen of rock and roll, even if he became a crazy conspiracy asshole afterward. And "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo" holds up; I will totally stand by it.

Todd: [Holds up metal horns] Rock and roll, hoochie koo. Okay, yeah, it does still sound a little dumb to me.

Performance of "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo" ends

Closing tag song: Suzi Quatro - "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo"


"Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo" is owned by Columbia Records.

This video is owned by me.


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