The Inside Story of Hang on Sloopy
On October 9, 1965 Hang
On Sloopy was a number one hit for the McCoys and it was the first rock-n-roll song played by the
OSU Marching Band. OSUMB was the first
Big Ten band to play rock music, and on November 20, 1985 Hang On Sloopy became the Official State
Rock Song of the State of
In 1962 five high school kids from the town of
After more than two weeks of pestering his former percussion instructor and close friend OSUMB Director Dr. Charles Spohn, arranger John Tatgenhorst got a call one Thursday evening. Dr. Spohn talked to John and John felt Hang on Sloopy exploited basic rock-n-roll chord patterns. Dr. Spohn agreed and asked John to arrange the tune. He began at 9:30 PM and after four hours of work, he was finished. The next morning he changed only one detail; he added modulation for the ending to be in the key of G flat major, while the rest of the song was in F major. “It would only make it better,” John said, “and I figured they would only use the thing once anyway.” The very same arrangement has been a tradition ever since.
On Saturday, October 9 at the OSU/Illinois game, the halftime show and about-to-be tradition were almost rained out. During the second quarter, such a heavy downpour drenched the fans and the field that the band considered canceling its performance to avoid making an even muddier mess of the gridiron, which was grass. But, Head Coach Woody Hayes had grown to appreciate the band more than he did ten years earlier when he ordered the marchers off a soaked field during the 1955 Rose Bowl. So the 120 band members performed before a drenched but enthusiastic crowd. The OSUMB, in the form of a giant ballerina, stepped gracefully in the mud to Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers – then suddenly began to gyrate in a wild Watusi as it played Hang On Sloopy. The crowd went crazy.
Before the next game, against an unbeaten