Once Upon a Time in the Top Spot: Manfred Mann, “Do Wah Diddy Diddy”

Friday, October 17, 2014
Once Upon a Time in the Top Spot: Manfred Mann, “Do Wah Diddy Diddy”

50 years ago today, Manfred Mann found themselves atop the Billboard Hot 100 for the only time in their career, but if you’re only going to hit the top spot once, then it might as well be with a song as instantly memorable as “Do Wah Diddy Diddy.”

Written by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, a duo well known for their work in and around the Brill Building, “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” was originally recorded by an American group called the Exciters, under the title “Do-Wah-Diddy,” but while they didn’t find the same degree of success with the song as Manfred Mann did, they did make it onto the Hot 100 with their version, if only to the #78 spot. Still, it was high enough to bring the song a certain amount of attention, ultimately resulting in Manfred Mann – who’d broken into the UK top five with “5-4-3-2-1” but were still struggling to find consistent success with their own material – taking a shot at the song themselves.

It proved a wise move for the Manfreds: “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, raising the band’s profile enough that they subsequently earned a #12 hit with their next single, “Sha-La-La.” Unfortunately, they only managed one other US top-10 hit in their time (“The Mighty Quinn,” which hit #10 in 1968), but the man who gave the band its name would go on to earn another #1 hit in 1976 with his Earth Band: “Blinded by the Light.” And if anyone else in Manfred Mann was still grousing about the fact that they didn’t get as much success in the States as they perhaps should have, then you’d like to think that this moment from Stripes made them feel at least a bit better about their place in music history being secure.