Top 10 Songs From The McCoys

The McCoys Songs

Feature Photo: Sam Howzit, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Likely the most recognized hit from the list of top 10 songs from The McCoys would be the cult classic “Hang On Sloopy.” However, from 1962 to 1969, they established themselves as more than one-hit-wonders. Of the thirteen singles The McCoys released, nine of them became hits on the US Billboard Hot 100. The talented men who first founded The McCoys in 1962 were two brothers who hailed from Fort Recovery, Ohio. Randy and Rick Zehringer would later be recognized by their fans as Randy Z and Rick Derringer. They, along with Randy Jo Hobbs, earned a loyal fan base that would continue to follow their careers even after the men moved on to enjoy their own musical paths. Before looking into our list of top ten songs from The McCoys, let’s take a quick trip down memory lane.

The Zehringers

Although Rick and Randy Zehringer were originally from Ohio, The McCoys technically got its start as a rock band in Union City, Indiana. Along with Dennis Kelly, the Zehringers first teamed up as The Rick Z Combo before renaming themselves to Rick and the Raiders. After Kelly’s departure, Randy Jo Hobbs took his place as bass guitarist. Also joining the lineup was Sean Michaels and, briefly, Ronnie Brandon. Brandon would be replaced as the band’s keyboardist by Bobby Peterson. It would be the Zehringer, Hobbs, Kelly, and Peterson lineup that would become famous for their debut single, “Hang On Sloopy.”

Before making it big with “Hang On Sloopy,” The McCoys were already becoming popular as Rick and the Raiders. Originally, this song was intended to be covered as a single by The Strangeloves but the timing wasn’t quite right as it would have been too soon as a follow-up single to their big hit, “I Want Candy.” At the time, the Rick and the Raiders lineup were brought in to record “Hang On Sloopy” which would feature a then sixteen-year-old Rick Zehringer performing as lead vocalist. Also at this time, there was another popular group at the time known as Paul Revere & the Raiders. In order to avoid name confusion between the two bands, Rick and the Raiders changed their name to The McCoys. It was also at this time Rick would adopt the stage name of Rick Derringer.

The Bubblegum Curse

Much to the chagrin of The McCoys, the music industry recognized the group as a bubblegum pop band and this was how they were promoted. In the quest to be taken more seriously as musicians, the Zehringers and their bandmates signed up with Mercury Records. While there, they recorded and released Infinite McCoys in 1968, then Human Ball in 1969. The sound style The McCoys adopted was psychedelic music but it failed to win over a fan base they hoped for. Deemed as commercial failures, the Zehringers, and Hobbs teamed up with Johnny Winter in 1970 and 1971 for his two recordings, Johnny Winter And and Live Johnny Winter And. Originally, this new group was supposed to be labeled as Johnny Winter & The McCoys but the bubblegum curse continued to serve as a nemesis. It was suggested in order to protect Winter’s reputation as a serious musician to credit the two albums without adding The McCoys label to it. This marked the end of The McCoys as a band recognized by that name.

Together, Derringer and Hobbs continued working with Winter which would lead to 1973’s Still Alive and Well, 1974’s Saints & Sinners, and 1974’s John Dawson Winter III. Derringer and Hobbs continued to record and tour with Edgar and Johnny Winter until 1976. In the meantime, Derringer was also enjoying a recording career as a solo artist. To his credit, he has recorded and released sixteen studio albums and four albums between 1973 and 2009. The McCoys never did reunite as a band again on an official level. The summer of 1993 marked the deaths of Bobby Peterson and Randy Jo Hobbs. Both men were in their forties when they died just a few weeks apart. The death of Hobbs fell on August 5, the same day Rick Derringer celebrated his forty-sixth birthday.

The McCoys Legacy

From 1962 until 1969, The McCoys recorded and released four studio albums. The most successful was the 1965 debut of Hang On Sloopy. This was followed by the 1966’s You Make Me Feel So Good before the group opted to change their musical image. Infinite McCoys and Human Ball failed to give The McCoys the results they hoped for but they still continued to move forward. Although The McCoys as a name came to an end in 1970, there was still one more album that was released in 1976. Glass Derringer was the result when LA International released it while Rick Derringer and Randy Hobbs were still enjoying their musical careers.

From The McCoys lineup, Derringer is the only member left that continues to perform. As a solo artist, he became one of the most recognized names in the music industry. When not performing on his own, he collaborated with some of the biggest names in the business. He was also a key musical contributor to several sports-related musical materials that not only included “Hang On Sloopy” but his most popular solo hit, “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo.”

Top 10 The McCoys Songs

#10 – Jesse Brady

Released in 1968 from Infinite McCoys, “Jesse Brady” was an attempt to shake off the bubblegum pop image that rubbed The McCoys the wrong way. On the US Billboard Hot 100, this single edged in at number ninety-eight but that’s as far as it went on the music chart. Although deemed as a commercial failure at the time, “Jesse Brady” was a jazzy-style song that showed music fans the group from Indiana had more going for them than just one style of music. The lyrical performance of Rick Derringer portrayed “Jesse Brady” as a woman-pleasing character that became somewhat of a role model for many fans who found this new style of The McCoys’ music a refreshing change from the bubblegum image they were trying to shake off.

#9 – I Got to Go Back (And Watch That Little Girl Dance)

“I Got to Go Back (And Watch That Little Girl Dance)” was a single released by The McCoys in 1967. It wasn’t associated with any albums at the time and it managed to peak as high as number sixty-nine on the US Billboard Hot 100. The opening beats and riffs led to a wonderfully entertaining song about a young lady who did more than just get the group’s attention as she danced. As the lead vocalist, Rick Derringer expressed his interest in a young lady that won over his heart. When feeling nostalgic for some classic garage-style music from the mid to late 1960s, “I Got to Go Back” is one of many cute little gems worth listening to.

#8 – Don’t Worry Mother, Your Son’s Heart Is Pure

Released as a non-album single in 1966, “Don’t Worry Mother, Your Son’s Heart Is Pure” became a number sixty-seven hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. While still popular among a fan base who found music from The McCoys fun, the band members sought to crank up their music to appeal to a more mature audience. The opening of the song displayed a hint of Oriental influence before The McCoys broke into a signature sound that turned them into teen idols in 1965. Although somewhat unusual in composition, the fun behind “Don’t Worry Mother, Your Son’s Heart Is Pure” was also a wonderfully thoughtful song when you take the time to pay attention to the lyrics. There were assurances made to his mother by Rick Derringer as the lead vocalist that she had nothing to worry about as he continued to grow as a man.

#7 – Up and Down

On the US Billboard Hot 100, “Up and Down” became a number forty-six hit for The McCoys when it was released as a single in 1966. While it wasn’t nearly as successful on the charts as “Hang on Sloopy” and “Fever,” it still won over a fan base that mainly consisted of teenagers at the time. Together, the boys shared the roller coaster ride between the emotional highs and lows experienced in a relationship that seemed to be anything but boring. As much as The McCoys didn’t like to be associated as a bubblegum act at the time, their garage-style rock appealed to a fan base closest to their own more so than any other. “Up and Down” is a song fun to listen to and dance to, as was the case for most of the music featured on the group’s debut album, Hang On Sloopy.

#6 – (You Make Me Feel) So Good

“(You Make Me Feel) So Good” was the third and final hit single from The McCoys’ second studio album, You Make Me Feel So Good. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it peaked as high as number fifty-three. As the group’s lead vocalist, Rick Derringer delivered an upbeat performance that was beautifully matched by his brother, Randy Z, as well as Randy Hobbs and Bobby Peterson. It was a song about appreciating a special love interest as the band celebrated what makes relationships between two people so great. The majority of the fans The McCoys had during this time were teenagers, so “(You Make Me Feel) So Good” was an easy favorite they could listen to and dance to as a genuine feel-good song.

#5 – Beat the Clock

“Beat the Clock” was a song performed by The McCoys in 1966 as a song that would become a popular favorite, thanks to the jazzy guitar riffs and the challenge issued by Rick Derringer and his bandmates. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it peaked as high as number ninety-two but wasn’t able to advance any further at the time. However, their performance of this song triggered several recording artists around the world to cover what became a favorite for them. The opening of the song began with the clock ticking as the group sang together about a topic that covered the aging process of a human being. Even at this time, the young lineup of The McCoys acknowledged time stands still for no one.

#4 – Come On, Let’s Go

Originally written and recorded by Ritchie Valens in 1958, “Come On, Let’s Go” was a song he first made popular as it became a number forty-two hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. From the UK, Tommy Steele would be the first to cover the song that would become a number-ten hit in the UK. The McCoys recorded it for their 1966 recording, You Make Me Feel So Good. When it was released as a single, it became a number twenty-two hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 and a number fifty-one hit in the UK. The song itself is a classic that’s been covered by several recording artists around the world. The lyrics, “Come On, Let’s Go” was urging a love interest to join the singer to have some fun. The mid-1960s had The McCoys regarded as teen idols due to their age and style of music at the time.

#3 – Sorrow

“Sorrow” was a song originally performed by The McCoys in 1965 on the B side of their hit record, “Fever.” Although not released as a single by them at the time, it won over considerable fan appeal that included David Bowie and George Harrison. David Bowie covered “Sorrow” in its entirety in 1973 while Harrison used the song’s opening line in The Beatles’ 1969 hit single, “It’s All Too Much.” Bowie’s version of “Sorrow” became a popular top ten hit among many European nations such as Belgium, France, Ireland, and the UK. It became a number-one hit in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. The appeal of “Sorrow” was the beautiful melody that set it apart from the rest of the music featured on The McCoys’ debut album, Hang On Sloopy.

#2 – Fever

“Fever” was originally recorded by Little Willie John as the title track for his 1956 album. Written by Otis Blackwell as John Davenport, “Fever” topped the R&B music charts, including the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it peaked as high as number twenty-four. Since then, several artists have recorded their own versions of “Fever,” including The McCoys. The most popular version came from Peggy Lee when her 1958 lyrically rewritten version became her signature song.

The McCoys saw their version become a number seven hit in 1965 on the US Billboard Hot 100, as well as a number forty-four hit in the UK. As a song, “Fever” became a huge favorite among teens when it first rocked the airwaves. This was one of many songs released by The McCoys at the start of their recording career that would mark them as a bubblegum pop act.

#1 – Hang On Sloopy

The first time “Hang On Sloopy” became a hit was in 1964 when the Vibrations recorded and released it as “My Girl Sloopy” through the Atlantic Records label. Written by Bert Berns and Wes Farrell, the song made reference to an Ohio-based jazz singer named Dorothy Sloop. She was a student at Ohio University that was identified as the infamous “Sloopy” according to the song’s lyrics. Now as “Hang On Sloopy,” it instantly became a classic and was performed by several bands, including The McCoys. For them, their performance spiked “Hang On Sloopy” to become a number-one hit on the US Billboard Hot 100, as well as a number-five hit on the Official UK Singles Chart.

The popularity of the song also sold over one million copies in the United States alone. Since then, “Hang On Sloopy” has become Ohio State University’s official anthem for their sports teams. The legacy of “Hang On Sloopy” continues to make its impact today as a classic standard that’s been covered over and over again by a long list of recording artists. As a solo artist, Rick Derringer released his version of “Hang On Sloopy” as a single in 1975. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it peaked as high as number ninety-four.

Top 10 Songs From The McCoys article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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