The 1960s had a number of dances, and one of them was The Jerk. In 1964, The Larks released “The Jerk,” and The Miracles released “Come on Do the Jerk.” Then in 1966, The Capitols, a Detroit-based R&B soul trio, had a hit with “Cool Jerk.” Now, the “Cool Jerk,” written by group member Don Storball, originally was called the “Pimp Jerk.” The story goes that there were neighborhood pimps who were too cool to dance the jerk like everybody else at the clubs, so the joke was that they did a pimp jerk. The producer of the song didn’t think that title would go by the censors and receive much airplay, so the title was changed.
The Capitols formed in Detroit in 1962, first calling themselves The Caps. For “Cool Jerk,” they were Samuel George as lead vocalist and drummer, Don Storball on backup vocals and guitar, and Richard Mitchell on backup vocals and keyboard. Additional instrumentation was provided the fabulous session musicians The Funk Brothers. The song went to #7 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and #2 on the R&B Chart.
There have been numerous covers of the song, including versions (some with changes in the lyrics), by The Go-Go’s, Todd Rundgren, Big Trouble, The La De Das, The Tremeloes, The Funk Brothers featuring Bootsy Collins, and The Coasters, to name a few. The song has remained popular on oldies stations. It also has been used in Cool Whip commercials and has appeared in many movie soundtracks, including More American Graffiti, Night and the City, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, and Calendar Girl.