were a doo-wop
formed in 1957 by lead singer Walter
(born August 28, 1940 in Jackson, Mississippi — died
December 11, 2006 in Northridge, California). The group included
Eddie Lewis (tenor, Ward's cousin), Charles
Fizer (tenor), Walter Hammond (baritone)
and Melvin King (bass) and except for
Lewis were friends in a Los Angeles, California high school.
Their first record
was credited to
Walter Ward and the Challengers ("I Can Tell" on Melatone).
After the name change, they recorded "Western Movies" (Demon
Records) in the summer of 1958. Co-written
by Fred Smith and Cliff Goldsmith,
"Western Movies" made it to #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart
. The song
the nation's preoccupation with western
programs. It told the
story of a man who lost his girl to TV
westerns, and it included doo-wop harmonies
as well as background gunshots
In 1960 the group recorded
Gully," which initiated the hully gully
craze. "Big Boy Pete," which the group
also released in 1960, served as inspiration for The Kingsmen
's "Jolly Green Giant."
their song "Good Lovin'
" and took all the way to #1.
Over the next 10 years The Olympics recorded upbeat R&B
songs, often about dances popular
at the time.
Fizer was shot and killed during the Watts
in 1965. Shortly thereafter, King left the group after
died in an accidental shooting. A
revamped group continued to record into the early 1970s, but were
unable to attain popular chart success after the mid 1960s.
Olympics continued to perform on the "oldies group" circuit in the
States and other countries.
(Chart positions listed are from the Billboard Hot 100
- "Western Movies" (1958) #8
- "(I Wanna) Dance with the Teacher" (1958) #71
- "Private Eye" (1959) #95
- "(Baby) Hully Gully" (1960) #72
- "Big Boy Pete" (1960) #50
- "Shimmy Like Kate" (1960) #42
- "Dooley" (1961) #94
- "Little Pedro" (1961) #76
- "The Bounce" (1963) #40
- "Good Lovin'" (1965) #81