The Three Stooges inspired one of the most unlikely pop hits of the 1980s
"The Curly Shuffle" reached the Top 20 in 1984.
Image: Atlantic Records / Acme Records [inset]
Jerome Horwitz, better known as Curly Howard, passed away on January 18, 1952. He was a mere 48 years old. Meanwhile, that very month, thousands of miles away, Peter Quinn came into this world as a baby. Quinn would wonder if he inherited a bit of the soul of the beloved member of The Three Stooges.
"Curly is alive and living in my body," Quinn explained in an interview for VH1's One Hit Wonders in 2002. Hosted by William Shatner, the episode, titled "Goofy Greats," focused on the quirkiest novelty songs of the 1980s. From "Pac-Man Fever" to "Puttin' on the Ritz," the decade had no shortage of them. Yet, "The Curly Shuffle," which set Curly catchphrases against a backdrop of Chicago blues, might be one of the most unlikely smashes from that era.
Quinn, a superfan of The Three Stooges, came up with the song for his Jump 'N the Saddle Band. "The Curly Shuffle" nyuck-nyuck-nyuck'ed its way to No. 15 on the pop charts in 1984. To put that into context, the slick bar-band shuffle was sandwiched between Madonna and Duran Duran on the Billboard Hot 100.
The nostalgic rock tune soon became a fixture at New York Mets games in Shea Stadium, where it blasted from the Jumbotron.
To think, it all began at a music festival in Milwaukee.
"Five thousand people out there just dancing and going crazy, doing all The Three Stooges antics," Quinn explained to VH1. "I mean, poking each other in the eye… rolling around on the ground like Curly used to do."
"The Curly Shuffle" quickly became a regional hit and spread into a nationwide novelty sensation. Atlantic Records snatched up the Jump 'N the Saddle band and pressured them to come up with another novelty hit. But the group was more into traditional sounds, aside from the token "The Chicken Song (Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens)" included on its LP. Unsurprisingly, perhaps even to the musicians who recorded it, no other song from the record sniffed the charts. Atlantic quickly dropped the Jump 'N the Saddle Band from its roster.
In recent years, Quinn has been playing in the Chicago area with his act Skip Towne & The Greyhounds. In 2008, he re-recorded "The Curly Shuffle" for the Greyhounds album Detours. "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens," too. Hey, when you find a formula, stick with it.
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