All right, Teddy on the ocarina, let's go
Tempo, Teddy, tempo
Tempo, Teddy, tempo
Songwriter Chip Taylor (who is the brother of Jon Voight and the uncle of Angelina Jolie) was commissioned to write “Wild Thing” for a group called the Wild Ones, who were once the house band at the famed Peppermint Lounge in New York City.
The Wild Ones’ recording of the song, which was released in November 1965, failed to chart. But a cover of “Wild Thing” recorded by the Troggs, a British band, made it all the way to #1 on the Billboard “Hot 100” in July 1966.
“Wild Thing” has been covered a zillion times, but the oddest cover of the song was the one done by “Senator Bobby” – comedian William “Bill” Minkin pretending to be Robert Kennedy – the following year.
Fifty years ago today, Minkin’s recording of “Wild Thing” reached the #20 spot on the Billboard “Hot 100.”
The flip side of that record was a version of “Wild Thing” performed by Minkin in the style of tousled, gravel-voiced Republican Senator Everett Dirksen. (Minkin recorded it under the alias “Senator Everett McKinley.” Dirksen’s middle name was McKinley.)
|Senator Everett Dirksen|
Minion followed up “Wild Thing” with a cover of the Donovan song, “Mellow Yellow,” which featured his impersonations of both Kennedy and Dirksen. It made it only to #99 of the “Hot 100.”
Minion released one more “Senator Bobby” record in 1968. His cover of “Sock it To Me, Baby” appeared on the “Bubbling Under” chart (which was reserved for songs that came close but failed to crack the “Hot 100”) in the June 15, 1968 issue of Billboard.
Kennedy, who was seeking the Democratic nomination for President that summer, had been shot and killed a few days earlier. (I assume that Billboard had a deadline well in advance of its publication date.)
|Senator Robert Kennedy|
Dirksen, who died of cancer in 1969, recorded four spoken word albums. In January 1967, he became the oldest man to have a single in the Billboard top forty. His patriotic recording, “Gallant Men,” peaked at #29 the same week that the “Senator Bobby” parody of “Wild Thing” was at #30.
Here’s “Wild Thing” a la Dirksen:
And here’s the “Senator Bobby” version of the song: