It was fifty years ago–on October 9, 1965– that The Ohio State University Marching Band first played the McCoys’ monster hit “Hang On Sloopy” during an OSU football game. The song has become a football season staple ever since, traditionally played during the transition from the third to the fourth quarter. Whenever I recall my own football-playing days at Greenhills High School in Cincinnnati, Ohio, one of the recurring memories is hearing the band strike up this song at the end of the third quarter, firing up the crowd and the team and sending a new burst of energy through the stadium.
The song was originally recorded by an R&B group called The Vibrations, but was later recorded by The McCoys, a group from the Midwest. Some of its members were from Union City, Indiana, and two of its members, the Zehringer brothers (Rick Zehringer would change his name to Rick Derringer), were from Fort Recovery, Ohio. The song entered the charts on August 14, 1965 and hit number one on October 2, 1965. The song was a favorite on the campus, often played on the jukebox at one of the local bars, and one of the staff arrangers for the OSU band, John Tatgenhorst, persuaded the director that the band should do the song. The rest is truly history. “Hang On Sloopy” later became the official state rock song of Ohio and the official song of OSU. Here’s to those autumn Friday nights and fall afternoons across Ohio when the gridiron comes alive.
Patrick Kerin (center, #50 and then #53, Greenhills High School, 1980-1983).
Wikipedia article on “Hang On Sloopy;” OSU youtube channel