Wednesday, January 21, 2015

How to Dance - Hang on Sloopy

There are different version of this floating about, and they are both well worth watching. First, what appears to be the original promo video, which naturally focuses on the singer as well as the dancer.

Second, a version that focuses solely on the dancer and that appears to have had some processing done to it to make it more vivid and closer to how it must have looked originally.

I will say it for you: wow.

Some folks think that everything is done better today than in the past.

Not so. And this video is a prime example.

All right, now some background for those interested.

This is a promotional video for 'Hang on Sloopy,' a mid-'60s hit for The McCoys. Naturally, since the song is known to derive from 1964-65, everyone thinks that everything related to it dates from that era. At first glance, you might think so about this promotional film for the song, too. After all, the band is dressed in the foppish artist style of that era, and everything is made to appear timeless - no cars to identify the time, etc. However, this early video actually is from a decade later. I say the video is "early" because despite being long after the song's original popularity, the video was filmed years before MTV launched in 1981. It was  a time when promotional films for songs were rare and produced only for top acts and for special purposes (television special appearances and so forth).

The singer is Rick Derringer, the founder, lead singer, etc., for The McCoys. Years after recording "Hang On Sloopy," he eventually went solo and had another hit, "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo," in 1973, off of his first solo record, '"All American Boy." The follow-up to that initial, successful solo project was "Spring Fever" in 1975.

"Spring Fever" included a remake of "Hang on Sloopy," Derringer's signature tune at the time, but in a different musical style from the original. The remake wasn't as recognizable, of course, which had hit No. 1 during a period when just about every record was a classic. The music of 1975 was fine, but it was the disco era and, well, a lot of those hit tunes were not, shall we say, timeless ("Kung Fu Fighting" ring a bell? Or "The Streak"? How about Rick Dees' "Disco Duck"?). Rick was working with Steely Dan and on other projects, but he was still kind of low-profile. Not too many people knew his name from the The McCoys - heck, they probably thought that he was named McCoy. It was an era of one-hit wonders, so his recent hit hadn't really established him in the public mind, either.

So, Derringer's record company decided to promote the new record by hearkening back to the original, classic version of "Hang on Sloopy" that everybody knew (and that people still know today, in fact, long after any remakes have been forgotten).

None of the original McCoys, which had disbanded in the '60s, appear in this mid-'70s video except, of course, for Derringer himself. The guys in the background are probably just session musicians or, more likely, actors (if you look closely, they don't appear to be playing or singing).

But we don't really care about them. The identity of the dancer is a subject of much debate and confusion. It now appears to be Rick Derringer's first wife, Liz. She moved on to become a music journalist and is still very much around. Oh, and so is Rick.

According to sources, Liz was an unknown dancer who simply was hired for the video. She probably just showed up that morning at the appointed time and place and went to work, happy to have a payday. She and Rick, um, hit it off during production (not difficult to believe at all, just look at her) and they later married. And that's how it goes down in the big town.

There are some who want to romanticize this and claim that Liz just 'showed up' for the shoot, you know, at random or something, and started dancing, like in the video. Friends, that would be wonderful if it ever happened, but goddesses do not just 'show up' when you happen to need them for filming on a back lot.

All young ladies who want to know how to dance should study this video.


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