Ahh, the infamous bikini! It was born at the Paris fashion show in 1946, right after World War II. It exploded in popularity in the late 1950s when bombshell actress Brigitte Bardot created a sensation by wearing one in the 1958 film And God Created Woman. But who first sang the immortal anthem to the bikini, “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”?
That would be Brian Hyland.
In 1960, Hyland hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with “Itsy Bitsy,” his first and biggest single, penned by Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss.
Hyland hit it big again in 1962 with the “back to school” anthem, “Sealed with a Kiss,” written by Peter Udell and Gary Geld. (“Sealed with a Kiss” charted again in 1968 when covered and released by Gary Lewis and the Playboys.)
“Brian [Hyland] was born November 12, 1943, in Brooklyn/Queens, New York City, where his first musical experience ranged from church choir at nine, to clarinet and guitar, to his first local harmony group, the Delfis. In 1959, they cut a demo record and made the rounds of New York City record labels. Finally, with much persistence, after many closed doors, Brian was signed as a solo artist to a management contract, where he cut demos for band leader Sammy Kaye’s publishing company. Kapp Records heard a demo and signed Brian at age 16. That became his first record ‘Rosemary’ and was followed that summer of 1960 by the now infamous ‘Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini,’ which got a nod from Brian’s cousin by marriage, Larry, of The Three Stooges, on their local New York TV Show Three Stooges Fun House, although they wouldn’t meet until eight years later in Hollywood. In 1961, the song was used as a successful brainwashing technique in the classic Billy Wilder movie comedy, ‘One,Two,Three’ starring James Cagney. It was Brian’s first Gold Record, selling millions world wide and racing to #1 in the U.S., briefly edging ahead of Elvis’ all time biggest hit, ‘It’s Now Or Never,’ as well as reaching the top of the charts in Japan, where he toured and performed in a TV special.” —BrianHyland.com
In 1966, while recording for Philips Records, Hyland recorded an album produced by music legends Snuff Garrett, Leon Russell and JJ Cale, yielding the top twenty singles, “The Joker Went Wild” and “Run, Run, Look And See.”
“Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie” may be one of the most known songs in the world, in part due to the lasting popularity of its subject, its nursery rhyme-like flavor, and continued use of the theme by advertising agencies. Nearly fifty years after first becoming a hit, it was popular again in 2007 with a new generation of teens as a result of a major Yoplait yogurt TV promotional campaign.
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