How Sloopy became a Buckeye

An Ohio State tradition since 1965

Traditions are a big deal around Ohio Stadium in the fall.

And you can always count on "Hang on Sloopy" to get Buckeyes on their feet.

But how did this song become part of Buckeye culture over the last 50-plus years? 

You may be surprised to know it started with a different song.

"My Girl Sloopy" by the Vibrations was an R&B hit in 1964...

Listen to "My Girl Sloopy"

...before the McCoys recorded a rock 'n' roll version in 1965.

Listen to "Hang On Sloopy"

Most people are familiar with that song: "Hang on Sloopy." 

What did The Vibration’s Carl Fisher, the original recording artist, say about The McCoys’ version?

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Carl Fisher
Musician, The Vibrations

So how did this rock ’n’ roll song come to be an Ohio State tradition?

You can thank this Ohio State alum: John Tatgenhorst.

In the summer of '65, he was working at the Ohio State Fair when he heard "Hang on Sloopy" playing over the midway speakers.

The percussion student immediately knew it could be arranged for a marching band.

But he first had to convince his professor, Charlie Spohn, to let him arrange it for Ohio State's marching band.

It only took four hours.

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John Tatgenhorst
Music composer and arranger

“Hang on Sloopy” debuted in Ohio Stadium on Oct. 9, 1965 - one week after it hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 list.

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Students went wild to hear their kind of music performed. In games that followed, they chanted for the band to play it.

See the 1965 performance

And Sloopy has remained a Buckeye ever since.

Dr. Christopher Hoch, Director
Marching and Athletic Bands, The Ohio State University

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