If you’ve spent any time on TikTok in the past year, the musical cue was inescapable: “Oh no, Oh, no, Oh, no, no, no, no, no,” the refrain goes, before some hilarious disaster strikes.
While the musical snippet has been attributed to everyone from rappers Kreepa to Capone (of Capone-N-Noreaga), it’s actually a sample from the 1964 girl group classic “Remember (Walking In The Sand)” by The Shangri-Las.
The 60s girl group is best associated with their No.1 hit “Leader Of The Pack,” with its roaring motorcycle sounds. The Shangri-Las’ songs epitomize teen melodrama, from ill-fated biker boyfriends to non-committal lovers, so it’s no wonder their song has taken off with a new generation.
Like many girl groups at the time, the Shangri-Las consisted of all teenagers, two sets of sisters from Queens, New York City, who were all in high school when the group first started. The sisters shot to stardom seemingly overnight thanks to songwriter and producer George Francis “Shadow” Morton, who earned the nickname after lurking around the hallways of the famed Brill Building.
“Remember (Walking In The Sand)” was basically written on a dare. Morton was meeting with the songwriter Ellie Greenwich and her husband and collaborator Jeff Barry, who was giving Morton the cold shoulder.
“Just what is it you do for a living?” Barry asked him,” Morton recalled in an interview with Vanity Fair. “I’m a songwriter – like you,” Mr. Morton replied. “What kind of songs?” said Barry. “Hit songs,” retorted Morton. “Why don’t you bring me one?” Mr. Barry said with skepticism. And with that, Morton frantically made some phone calls and found a bunch of girls from Queens who were willing to record. The only problem was, Morton didn’t have any “hit songs,” so he ended up writing one in his car on the side of the road on his way to the session.
When Morton needed someone to play the piano part on the song, he asked a young player who happened to be in the building that day to jump on the song. That 15-year-old was the piano man himself, Billy Joel.
“I played on a session with “Shadow” Morton for two songs: “Remember (Walkin’ in the Sand)” and “Leader of the Pack,” Joel recalled in an interview with Rolling Stone in 2005. “We did the recordings before the Shangri-Las sang on them. I’m pretty sure it was me. I saw an interview with Ellie Greenwich [the song’s co-writer], and she said it wasn’t me. I never got paid, though, so it doesn’t make any difference.”
Nevertheless, Shadow got his hit, the song landed at No.5 on the Billboard Hot 100, and has since been covered by Aerosmith and sampled endlessly over the last five decades. Whether chopped up, pitched up, or sampled, the girl group anthem lives on.