The Olympics

The Olympics comprised a fine doo-wop group from the West Coast who had one big novelty hit in the late 50's followed by several minor hits, and stops at a number of different record labels.

The group began as the Challengers at Centennial High School in Compton, California in 1954. They were comprised of lead singer Walter Ward, tenors Eddie Lewis and Charles Fizer, and baritone Walter Hammond. There were a few changes to the lineup over the years, as Fizer was replaced in 1958 by bass singer Melvin King, who remained with the group when Hammond left and Fizer returned the following year. They signed with Demon Records, where they worked with songwriters Cliff Goldsmith and Fred Smith, and changed their name to the Olympics. Working together they came up with a novelty song that became a top ten hit for the Olympics in 1958 titled Western Movies. Westerns were big on television and at the movies around that time, and their song came complete with not only the sounds of pistol shots but the ricochet sounds to boot. They followed with a minor hit (I Wanna) Dance With The Teacher in 1959, then moved to the Arvee label.

At Arvee they continued to come up with minor hits, such as Shimmy Like Kate. Their song Big Boy Pete (which had been recorded originally by Don & Dewey in 1959) would later serve as the inspiration for the Kingsmen's hit Jolly Green Giant. They moved to another label, Argo, and recorded another minor hit titled Peanut Butter which for legal reasons was issued on Arvee. They continued to go from label to label, coming up with their second (and last) top forty hit The Bounce on Tri Disc in 1963. A later recording by the Olympics, Good Lovin' on the Loma label, was covered by the Young Rascals, who turned it into a million seller and their first number one hit, in 1966.

The Olympics moved on to other labels, including Mirwood, California Gold, and All-American, although they were never to have another big hit. After 1966, music was changing and their records stopped selling, although they continued recording with a somewhat revised lineup on into the 70's. Original group member Charles Fizer was killed by a gunshot wound in the Watts rioting in 1965. Years later the Olympics performed on the rock-and-roll revival circuit.

In 1984 the Olympic Games were held in Los Angeles, and that year Rhino issued The Official Record Album Of The Olympics, containing old songs from the group, to coincide with the event.

Lovers of 50's and 60's music most closely associate the Olympics with their number eight hit from 1958 Western Movies.

Most Recent Update: December 1, 2007

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