Although they are only remembered today for their 1964 hit Hippy Hippy Shake, The Swinging Blue Jeans were actually one of the strongest of the Liverpool bands from the Merseybeat period.
Formed in 1961 (initially as The Blue Genes) The Swinging Blue Jeans followed virtually the same path to success as many of their Merseybeat contemporaries.
Indeed, after playing the succession of local dance halls and club engagements – including the famous Cavern club – they took the same route to Germany and appeared at the rapidly emerging Star Club in Hamburg, where their unusual mix of trad jazz rhythm and rock guitars initially got them booed – until they ditched the banjo.
Turning down Brian Epstein as manager they signed a contract with HMV in 1962 and released their debut single, It’s Too Late Now, in 1963.
The record crept into the charts at #30, but by the turn of 1964, the band had tasted success with their second single, Hippy Hippy Shake – a cover of an obscure 1950s rocker (that was actually performed much better by The Beatles on tapes of their BBC performances).
The band enjoyed some other hits in the UK, including Good Golly Miss Molly and a top-notch Merseyisation of You’re No Good, originally by Betty Everett (and covered in the 1970s by Linda Ronstadt) which they took into the Top Five in 1964. The band also wrote some catchy and energetic originals in the purest Merseybeat style.
As trends changed – and despite a stab at psychedelia – The Swinging Blue Jeans were on the nostalgia circuit by the 1970’s.
While it may not add up to an enduring legacy, there’s a lot to be said for the naive energy of the best of their early tunes, and in one guise or another, The Swinging Blue Jeans have continued to tour and entertain for over 40 years.