I love novelty songs and this is one of my favorites. Not to mention that “Alley Oop” is probably my favorite comic strip of all time. The Hollywood Argyles was a figment of the imagination of Gary Paxton, a singer who was working in Hollywood at the time. Gary was the “Flip” half of the duo Skip and Flip. They had had two hits in late 1959 and early 1960, “It Was I” and “Cherry Pie,” both peaking at number eleven on the pop chart. Skip was a fellow named Clyde Battin, a friend of Gary’s.
Skip and Flip recorded on the Brent Records label and when personal differences broke up the duo, Gary went his own way and ended up in Hollywood. He was under the impression that he still was under contract to Brent Records and so couldn’t sing under his own name. (He was not, it turned out.) “Alley Oop” was written as a country song by Dallas Frazier. It was Frazier’s first hit, but he went on in the Sixties to write many more hits for several country artists.
Gary literally met Dallas Frazier as he was driving into Hollywood one night. He stopped at a gas station to ask directions and Frazier was hanging out there. They got to talking and Gary found out Frazier was a writer and since Gary was a singer, they decided to get together.
Believing he was under contract to Brent Records, he decided he needed to record under a different name. The studios were on the corner of Hollywood Blvd and Argyle Street, so Gary Paxton became the Hollywood Argyles. There was no group. The entire Hollywood Argyles consisted of just him, Gary Paxton. He brought in some musicians and they recorded the song. It is said (not confirmed) that all of them were drunk when they recorded the song. That might explain how Gary gets two syllables out of the word “four.”
“Alley Oop” was a true one-hit wonder. The Hollywood Argyles never had another hit. Gary put together an album of other songs to support “Alley Oop” but that was it. Gary stayed in the music business for a few years, although he never charted again, himself. In 1962, he produced a number one for Bobby “Boris” Pickett. Remember “The Monster Mash?” It’s played every year at Halloween. Today, Gary and his wife have a Christian radio talk show which broadcasts out of Nashville, Tennessee.
An interesting tidbit: on May 2, 1960, radio station WLS-AM in Chicago changed format from farm broadcasting to rock and roll. “Alley Oop” was the first song they played under the new format. “Alley Oop” debuted on the pop chart on June 13, 1960 and spent one week at number one. It sold over a million copies and was awarded Gold by RIAA.