The Music Of The Olympics

No, not THOSE Olympics.

It would be a natural assumption for you to make, and an obvious ploy on my part to lead you down that path, but we’re not here to discuss the music of the recent Beijing games. Nope, our subject is a very good singing group from the Los Angeles area who called themselves the Olympics, and even if you don’t remember the name I’m willing to bet that you recall their 1958 breakout hit, “Western Movies.”

Although they’re probably most remembered for that particular novelty piece, one that took advantage of the popularity of TV and Hollywood Westerns at that time, the Olympics were actually a very talented and diversified bunch. And even though they didn’t reach the same high sales levels with their other records, it would be wrong to dismiss the Olympics as a one-hit wonder.

The group’s original name was Walter Ward and the Challengers, consisting of Ward and Eddie Lewis, Charles Fizer, and Walter Hammond, but the guys didn’t really find much career traction until they made a name change and became the Olympics. Of course, the new name might have been meaningless – hooking up with a new record company and finding some new songs probably meant more – but whatever the case, their big record soon put them on the map.

After the success of “Western Movies,” the guys continued performing and recording. Their stage act, which included a lot of humor and a variety of light-hearted songs, was very popular and entertained lots of fans, but their records didn’t always hit the jackpot. They had some success with songs like “I Wanna Dance With The Teacher,” “Big Boy Pete,” and “Private Eye,” but even after changing record companies again they were still not really building on their first hit record.

Over the next few years the Olympics went through a number of ups and downs, with a lot of side issues coming into play, including guys sometimes singing in different groups or under other names. Some of the songs they generated were popular, including “Dooley,” “Dodge City,” and “Big Chief Little Foot,” and a few of the group’s more suggestive songs sometimes ran a little afoul of conservative groups (a plus in the eyes of teenagers) but record sales were generally trending downward.

LIke most groups of the era, the Olympics gradually dissolved as circumstances changed (including the shooting death of one member) and all went their separate ways. Through the years the former members have sometimes shown up in newer versions of the Olympics or similar combos, as part of the many oldies tours.

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7 thoughts on “The Music Of The Olympics

  1. Hello, I wanted to let everyone know the Olympics are alive and well. Their career has gone through many changes, but their songs continue to play and their audience and fan base is strong. Their website on myspace will testify to this and they continue to perform. They have had some difficult times, as many groups do, but they’ve managed to hold on to their name, their dignity and are solid, kind gentlemen with familes that continue to live in Los Angeles. There is one ORIGINAL member, Eddie Lewis. The other two Olympics have performed with him for a period of time and have even recorded a Christmas CD 3 years ago and now have a hot hit single out called “Stay Where You Are”. There is a demand for them in the UK for the doo wop sound which they are able to do quite well along with the oldies, 50’s style as well. They keep the old style and continue to do well.

    Many people think the group has desolved and will not book them or call upon them and this can work against them. But they are alive and “thriving” and their voices sound great. Their music sells on their myspace site as well as CD baby. Take a visit to their myspace. All info is there for you along with their latest videos of the three Olympics.

    1958 to 2008 and still going! To the Olympic fans, this is good news. Write to them and let them know you’d like them to perform. They are motivated by the fans and can still dance. Youtube features their latest videos as well.

    Thanks so much!
    Blessings to you.

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  2. Thanks for the update. I tried to leave an upbeat feeling about their current activities at the end of the original piece, but it’s good to hear some details and that they’re doing well.

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  3. Hi B.G.- I think you did a fine job obtain lots of good information on the Olympics. *smile* It’s nice to know they have dedicated fans such as yourself to even showcase their lives and past career. I applaude you. If you didn’t have all of the information, that’s ok. I’m speaking to those who didn’t know, mainly the audience out there who just don’t know they are out there and pointing them to their myspace page and their youtube videos and informing the fans as well as those who may seek them to perform, they are ready, able and willing to perform. *smile* I’ve heard many people come onto the myspace shocked that they exist.

    Unfortunately, there are those who do not want others to succeed. I was also addressing them if I sounded a bit firm.

    Thank you for your write-up and I in no way am saying anything negative against you as an individual. I respect your taste and love for music. I thought I’d get the attention of those who ask “what ever happened to the Olympics?” Now they’re updated and it’s a good feeling to have a chance to inform others in a positive way and I meant it with all due respect to you and what you do. I wished you blessings before and I do again with all sincerity.

    I wish you happiness in your journey through this life.
    If you have any questions, we’d be happy to answer them.

    Have an enjoyable day.

    Sarea

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  4. Thanks for a very nice additional note, Sarea. Actually I didn’t think your first one was in any way accusatory — sorry if I gave that impression. Both notes have been sincere, informational messages — exactly what we like here on the GMC!

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  5. You’re welcome and I’m glad I came across sincere because I was concentrating so much on the information. Thanks for your quick replies. I’ve told the Olympics about you and they are happy with your write-up. If you’ll be in the neighborhood of any performances, it would be nice to meet you. We invite you to our myspace page as well.

    Thank you.

    SAREA

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  6. I recently had a discussion with my father about the name of this group. Did it evolve from them singing at the Olympic games?, I say no. Who is right?

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  7. A dear friend of mind once said he preformed with this group in the early 60s he sang bass William Mantell Icalled him
    Butch. He was from Philly.

    Like

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