Who was/is The Olympics ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more

The Olympics

Western Movies

The Olympics

Western Movies


The Ward brothers sang gospel back home in Mississippi, and continued to sing together after they arrived in Los Angeles in the early 1950s. Walter Ward attended Centennial High School in Compton alongside his cousin, Eddy Lewis, who was also from Mississippi. They added Charles Fizer and Walter Hammond, and began recording in 1956 for Melatone Records. Very quickly, they discovered that there was another group called the Challengers and so, in the year of the Olympic Games, they became the Olympics. In 1958, the truly ubiquitous Jesse Belvin introduced them to John Criner and his wife, R&B singer Effie Smith.

Criner became their manager, and got them on Si Aronson and Joe Greene's Demon label (distributed by Liberty). One of Demon’s A&R men was Effie Smith’s son, Fred, who had co-written a song with fellow Demon A&R man, Cliff Goldsmith. Their song, Western Movies, was much in the style of Leiber and Stoller and was, of course, about the vogue for TV westerns. The session was held in garage studio of jazz bassist Ted Brinson, who worked on the session together with Irving Ashby on guitar, and Effie Smith on piano. It became an R&B hit (#7), a pop hit (#8), and an overseas hit (#12 in England). There were changes in personnel and changes in labels, and along the way they recorded the original version of (Baby) Hully Gully, that inspired the Marathons’ hit Peanut Butter. Then they revived Don & Dewey’s Big Boy Pete, which is generally reckoned to be the inspiration for Jim Croce’s hit Bad, Bad Leroy Brown. There were more dance craze records, more novelties, and a few more hits.

There was also an unfortunate moment when the Olympics’ career bisected history-in-the-making. On the way to a rehearsal, Charles Fizer was shot to death during the Watts riots of 1965. They soldiered on, making records until 1973, and there’s still a group called the Olympics making personal appearances out there somewhere.


Various - Blowing The Fuse 1958 - Classics That Rocked The Jukebox

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