The Capitols, an energetic soul and rnb group, formed in Detroit, Michigan in 1962. Best known today for their dance smashes "Cool Jerk" and "We Got a Thing That's in the Groove", they were first known as 'The Three Caps': with Samuel George as the lead vocalist and drummer, Don Storball (birth name: Don Norman) on backup vocals and guitar, and Richard Mitchell (birth name: Richard McDougall) on backup vocals and keyboard. After playing predominantly small gigs, they were discovered by Ollie McLaughlin after performing at a local dance headlined by Barbara Lewis.
After signing with the Karen record label, owned by McLaughlin, the group went on to record and release their first single in 1963, "Dog and Cat/The Kick." The record displayed the upbeat energy of their later work, however the juvenile nature and lyrics of the song couldn't find a substantial audience. In light of the disappointing performance of their debut single, the group dissolved and pursued other ventures.
The mid-60s saw many dance crazes; one of the most popular ones was a dance called "the jerk." It consisted of holding the arms out in different positions and making thrusting motions with the hips. Though controversial for lewdness at the time, a particularly sexual version of the dance had become popular in Detroit clubs, called the "pimp jerk."
Seeking to capitalize on the popularity of the dance, and dance songs in general, Storball wrote a song about the pimp jerk, renaming it to "cool jerk" in order to prevent possible banning by radio stations. Realizing that the song was a hit, the group re-formed and contacted McLaughlin in order to secure studio time to record the song.
The song was recorded at Golden World Studios in Detroit on March 14, 1966 with the legendary Motown house band The Funk Brothers. Though the song was meant to include a horn accompaniment, the contracted musicians failed to arrive to the recording, and the horns were omitted from the track. It was released on July 2, 1966 and was a smash hit, reaching as high as #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #2 on the Billboard R&B charts.
Attempting to exploit the success of their hit single, the Capitols released two albums in 1966, "Dance the Cool Jerk" and "We Got a Thing," both featuring mostly covers of popular Motown and soul songs. Both albums were somewhat of a commercial and critical failure, though "Dance the Cool Jerk" did spend one week in the Billboard Top 200 Albums at #95 in July 1966. The group released eight additional singles after "Cool Jerk", none of which made any of the Billboard charts, relegating the group to a One-Hit Wonder. In late 1969, the group broke up for the final time.
Storball went on to have a career in the Detroit Police Department, and still lives in Detroit to this day. Richard McDougall died on February 19, 1984 of unknown causes. Samuel George died March 17, 1982 of stabbing wounds.