Cool Jerk

"Cool Jerk"
Single by The Capitols
from the album Dance the Cool Jerk
A-side "Cool Jerk"
B-side "Hello Stranger"
Released 1966
Format 7"
Genre Rhythm and blues[1]
Length 2:45
Label Karen Records 1524
Writer(s) Donald Storball
Producer(s) Ollie McLaughlin
The Capitols singles chronology
"Dog and Cat"
"Cool Jerk"
"Zig Zaggin"
"Cool Jerk"
Single by The Go-Go's
from the album Vacation
Released 1991
Format CD single
  • 2:53
  • 3:07 (Version from Greatest)
Label I.R.S. 75021 7439 2
Writer(s) Donald Storball
Producer(s) David Z
The Go-Go's singles chronology
"Yes or No"
"Cool Jerk"
"The Whole World Lost Its Head"

"Cool Jerk" is a song written by Donald Storball and originally performed by The Capitols. Released in 1966, it reached No. 2 on the American Rhythm & Blues Singles chart, No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100[2] and No. 9 on the Canadian Singles Chart.[3] The backing track for this song was actually recorded (secretly) by the Motown house band The Funk Brothers.

Per one of the Funk Brothers, the song was originally to be called "Pimp Jerk." This was taken from watching neighborhood pimps, who would dance in the clubs, but were too "cool" to do the jerk like regular folks. Their version was subsequently named "the Pimp Jerk." The producer was afraid that a song with the word pimp in the title would be banned or not receive much positive attention, and had the title changed to its current form.

The Go-Go's, Todd Rundgren, Big Trouble, Human Sexual Response, The La De Das, The Creation, The Tremeloes, and The Coasters have covered the song. Todd Rundgren did his version in an odd time signature (7/4), giving an obviously jerky feel to the song. The Go-Go's covered the song for their 1982 album Vacation and later re-recorded it for their 1990 album Greatest. A demo that pre-dates their Vacation recording was released on their 1994 compilation Return to the Valley of The Go-Go's.

In the feature film Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Frank McCallister (Gerry Bamman) sings "Cool Jerk" in the shower. A version of the song with different lyrics ("Do the Cool Whip") is used in Cool Whip commercials. A recording of "Cool Jerk" by Ricardo Ray is featured in the feature film Donnie Brasco (1997). The song features in the film Standing in the Shadows of Motown, performed by the Funk Brothers with lead vocals by Bootsy Collins. The song is heard briefly in the animated feature, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted. Despite this reason, it is listed in some variations of the film's soundtrack.


The Capitols version

Weekly charts

Chart (1966) Peak
Canada (CHUM)[4] 24
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[3] 9
France (IFOP)[5] 32
US Billboard Hot 100[2] 7
US Billboard Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles[2] 2
US Cash Box[6] 5
US Record World[7] 4

Year-end charts

Chart (1966) Position
US Billboard Hot 100[8] 36
US Billboard Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles[9] 2
US Cash Box[10] 23

The Go-Go's version

Chart (1991) Peak
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[11] 60


  1. Milward, John (March 25, 1991). "The Rhythm of the Sweats". New York. Vol. 24 no. 12. p. 27. ISSN 0028-7369.
  2. 1 2 3 "The Capitols – Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
  3. 1 2 "Top RPM Singles: Issue 5705." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
  4. CHART NUMBER 484 – Monday, June 13, 1966 at the Wayback Machine (archived July 29, 2007). CHUM.
  5. "Le Détail par Artiste" (in French). InfoDisc. Select "Capitols" from the artist drop-down menu. Retrieved May 14, 2016.
  6. CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending JUNE 25, 1966 at the Wayback Machine (archived October 4, 2012). Cash Box magazine.
  7. RECORD WORLD 1966 at the Wayback Machine (archived April 8, 2004). Record World.
  8. "Top 100 Hits for 1966". The Longbored Surfer. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
  9. Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs – 1966 at the Wayback Machine (archived October 20, 2006). Billboard.
  10. The CASH BOX Year-End Charts: 1966 at the Wayback Machine (archived October 4, 2012). Cash Box magazine.
  11. "Archive Chart: 1991-01-20" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
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