From 1965-1970, an independent Detroit label, Boo-Ga-Loo Records was producing a series of upbeat singles while achieving varying levels of success. The labels biggest break came in 1967. After emerging as a local smash hit, Jerry O’s “Karate Boo-Ga-Loo impacted Billboard’s pop and R&B charts and sold nearly a half million copies in the U.S. Boo-Ga-Loo would go on to release progressively funkier R&B singles, while providing an outlet for local talent. When Detroit impresario Sammy Kaplan started Boo-Ga-Loo Records, his intention was to capture a moment not to create a historical document. Ultimately he accomplished both. Fifteen years earlier his father Morry Kaplan had operated a small independent label, Danceland Records, and released some of the earliest known recordings of blues legend John Lee Hooker. Sammy followed in his father’s footsteps by launching Boo-Ga-Loo Records in 1965 and during the next 5 years his label would document the dynamic mood of Detroit’s music scene. From the beginning , Jerry O was Boo-Ga-Loo’s flagship artist. Born in October 1939 in St.Louis, Jerry Jerome Murray worked several years as a Chicago D.J. and promoter before moving to Detroit in the early 1960’s. Upon arrival, he put together a band and began making music, often working as a duo with Robert “Tommy Dark” Tharp. Billed as Tom and Jerry O, they recorded a 1965 single “Boo-Ga-Loo” on the ABC Paramount imprint before joining Sammy Kaplan’s new label the following year. A party-like mood would prevail during most Boo-Ga-Loo recording dates especially when Jerry O reigned over the proceedings. The sessions were typically held at either Terra Sherma or United Studios, two of Detroit’s recording hot spots. In addition to musicians and engineers, the studio was usually well stocked with two of Jerry O’s staples…Scotch Whiskey and attractive young women.
“The sessions began around 11 in the morning,” notes Kaplan, “and Jerry O would come in looking really crisp. His suit, shirt, and tie would be neatly pressed. By 3 o’clock in the afternoon the party would be in full swing. Jerry O’s sleeves would be rolled up, his jacket and tie would be off and the man would be working up a serious sweat. Things would just be getting started and the session could go on for hours. It was more like a giant party and you couldn’t help but get caught up in the mood.” -Sammy Kaplan
The hit single that Jerry O and Sammy Kaplan created “Karate-Boo-Ga-Loo” (which can be heard here…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbeD3fZhiV0) is the song for which he is best remembered. The song sold over 400,000 copies during a 9 week chart run, culminating September 16, 1967 when it peeked at #16 on Billboards national R&B chart and #51 on the Pop chart.