The first release by the Olympics was a national hit. After one release as the Challengers, a name they had to give up because of a competing group with that name, they became the Olympics. After all, 1958 was an Olympic year.
“We were originally the Challengers but we found out there was another group on the East Coast called the Challengers, so we couldn’t use that name,” said Olympics’ lead singer, Walter Ward. “We decided to use the Olympics name since everybody played sports in high school. The thing that was happening was slow dancing slow and squeezing.” Members were, tenor Little Eddie Lewis, baritones Ward, Charles Fizer and Walter Hammond and Thomas Bush, bass. According to Ward, “Bush and King Fizer went to Jordan the rest of us went to Centennial High School.”
Their success was a product of the production skills of Cliff Goldsmith and Fred Smith, son of Effie Smith. “The late Jesse Belvin was a very close friend of mine and he introduced me to Smith and Goldsmith,” said Ward. “They said ‘hey I like that voice,’ I’ve never been fond of it myself. They handed me the thing that said ‘Western Movies.’ ’Western Movies?’ We went in the studio and did it.”
Characterized by gunshot sound effects and the listing of westerns viewed on the fictitious channel 8, “Western Movies” b/w “Well” was a surprise novelty hit, reaching #18 on KFWB on July 12 and #8 nationally the following week and #7 R&B on Aug. 11.
According to Ward, “Demon Records gave away a stereo to everybody who could name all the westerns (Maverick, Sugarfoot, Cheyenne, Have Gun Will Travel, Wagon Train, Broken Arrow, Jim Bowie, Wyatt Earp and Boots & Saddles) in the song.”
“I was hoping the hit would’ve been ‘Well,’ because I wrote that,” said Ward. “Western Movies” also made the Wallichs Music City Flashbacks charts on Liberty at #14 on Nov. 29, 1965.
The Olympics moved on the Arvee label and the hits, “(Baby) Hully Gully” and “Big Boy Pete” just got bigger.