1981 Frankie Smith – Double Dutch Bus
Frankie Smith attended college in Tennessee, working towards a degree in elementary education with a minor in music.
In 1972, he recorded a song entitled Double Dutch for the Omega Records label in Philadelphia. An updated version of the song got released by Paramount Records, but neither version seems to have sold well.
Frankie began working as a songwriter for Paramount, working primarily with funk and soul artists. He also began collaborating with fellow songwriter/producer Bill Bloom.
The pair left the label by 1980 and proposed recording a song for the label WMOT Records (the initials stood for We Men Of Talent). The label gave them some leftover recording time at the end of recording sessions for other musicians each week.
Frankie had been turned down when he applied for a job as a bus driver, and he included a rap that included profanity that attacked the bus company. After some complaints, he rewrote the lines without cursing.
By the end of a month, the duo had put together a demo for Double Dutch Bus that the label accepted.
A local jump rope game also inspired some of the lyrics in the song using a version of Pig Latin that had become popular in Philly. Kids inserted “iz” into the middle of words and sometimes “izzle” replaced some letters at the end of words. After its use in Frankie’s new song, the slang later became popularized by Snoop Dogg.
They brought in some locals and instructed them on what to say or chant as part of the recording. They split the recording into two songs; the A-side became Double Dutch Bus while the B-side became Double Dutch. I couldn’t find any details about whether Frankie’s 1972 recording influenced anything more than the title for the B-side.
For a brief time, it was nearly impossible to avoid hearing the song on the radio, but mercifully, it vanished quickly. The single peaked at #30 on the Hot 100, but somehow reached the top of the R&B chart in 1981.
Frankie performed on both American Bandstand and Soul Train with his hit, which sold over two million copies. He also released two albums and many singles, but never charted again.
A surprising list of artists sampled his hit record on their own recordings, including Missy Elliott, Kylie Minogue, and Madonna. Raven-Symoné released a cover version of the song in 2008.
Frankie died in 2019.
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