Ohio’s Official Rock Song Had Hoosier Roots

Although a lot of states have official songs, Ohio might be the only one to have an official ‘rock’ song. In 1985, the Ohio General Assembly gave that designation to “Hang on Sloopy,” the familiar 1960s hit by the McCoys, described as a Dayton group at the time. The only problem was that the McCoys actually began in neighboring Indiana.

In all fairness, Union City, Indiana, sits right on the Ohio state line (and is not too far from Dayton), but it was there that some talented high-schoolers first got together. Lead guitarist Rick Zehringer (later known as Rick Derringer) and his drummer brother Randy initially formed a trio with bassist Dennis Kelly, but after Kelly moved on the brothers enlisted bassist Randy Hobbs and keyboardist Ronnie Brandon. They decided to call themselves the McCoys.

Brandon would eventually be replaced by Bobby Peterson, but in the meantime the group became a regional favorite and was subsequently ‘discovered’ by music promoters. The guys soon hit the studio to record what would become one of 1965’s biggest hits, “Hang On Sloopy.” It would be the McCoy’s only #1, although the group’s modern update of “Fever” would also reach into the Top Ten.

Over the next few years the McCoys would generate several moderately successful records while edging closer to a psychedelic persona, but by the early 1970s the group had pretty much dissolved. The Zehringer brothers went on to provide backup for Johnny Winter for a while, and Rick eventually became an important part of Edgar Winter’s group. Later he went on to a career as a solo performer and as a producer, and it continues even now.

The McCoys – “Hang On Sloopy” 

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