The Kangaroo Hop



The Kangaroo Hop
The Kangaroo Hop (Dance)
Letter dated 5 June 1912 from Fred Godfrey assigning the performing rights and
a share of the publishing royalties of The Kangaroo Hop (and several other songs)
to Billy Williams. In a subsequent letter dated
24 June 1912, Fred assigns all his rights to this and numerous other songs to Billy. Interestingly, Billy had already recorded the song for the German Favorite label when this letter was written.


Billy Williams & Fred Godfrey — London: Francis, Day & Hunter, 1912; American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) lists title as “Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother Cues,” with credit to Godfrey alone and publisher as Colgems EMI Music.

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An arrangement of The Kangaroo Hop
by Dominique Perrier and released in France
in 1976 on a 7" 45 rpm single in conjunction
with the film The Adventures Of Sherlock
Holmes’ Smarter Brother

“Animal” dances were all the rage just prior to the start of the Great War: the turkey trot, the camel walk, the grizzly bear, the bunny hop — and the king of the jungle, the fox trot, which was introduced in 1914 and remained a basic step for decades. Here, Billy Williams and Fred Godfrey offer an Antipodean specimen for the terpsichorean zoo. These dance steps, most of which hailed from America, were roundly condemned as “vulgarities” by the more staid arbiters of cultural fashion in Britain. As one newspaper reported, “[t]he disapproval expressed by the Imperial Society of Dance Teachers of the Bunny Hug, the Wallaby Leap, the Kangaroo Hop, and similar ‘freak’ dances is lead to their ostracism from the ball-room and the revival of more graceful dances.”1 Another newspaper put it simply that “[t]he Bunny Hug is doomed; the Wallaby Leap must go; the Kangaroo Hop is under notice. So say the dancing masters.”2 The snifty ones were not entirely able to excise the Kangaroo Hop from existence, however, as the following account from a letter home in 1915 by a young soldier in the Gallipoli campaign attests:


Private Sidney H. Stevens...[of Hounslow], serving in the 11th Battalion of the Australian Contingent, wrote to his parents on May 21st from a hospital in Alexandria, telling how he was wounded in the great fight in the Dardanelles. He says:

“Don’t be scared when you see the above address I have just got in the way of a bit of shrapnel....I was just going down in the reserve resting before going into the trenches. I got up at 7 to go and draw my cobber’s [mate’s] and my own rations, when just as we started the fireworks began. The explosions being uncomfortably close to where we were we thought we would postpone breakfast until things were more peaceful. I just turned away to get out and get under (our dug-out) when one burst close to me and I caught it on the hip. I did ‘The Kangaroo Hop’ down to the [Army Medical Corps dressing station] a few yards away, where they dressed me and carried me down to the beach, where I soon got on the boat and was brought here.”3

Amazingly, The Kangaroo Hop was revived from its long slumber for the 1975 comedy film The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, in which Gene Wilder, Madeleine Kahn, and Marty Feldman inexplicably launch into an energetic rendition, though whether their choreography matches the moves suggested above is uncertain. The song is also heard in Tracks, a 2014 Australian film.


The Kangaroo Hop
Listen to a
1912 recording by
Billy Williams for Columbia.



Billy Williams recorded no fewer than eight versions of this song: ca. April 1912 for Favorite, 26 July 1912 for Zonophone, ca. August 1912 for Columbia, ca. September 1912 for Edison Blue Amberol, ca. September 1912 for Jumbo, ca. September 1912 for Pathé, ca. November 1912 for Homophon, and ca. August 1913 for Pilot. Reissues appeared on several other labels.4

Jack Charman as “Ted Yorke” (The Winner 2280, 1913)

arr. Dominique Perrier (Disques Carrere 49.171, 1976 French)

Cosmotheka [Dave and Al Sealy], on LP “Wines And Spirits” (Highway SHY-7001, 1977)


Film Interpolations

The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother (1974); Tracks (2014).



1  “Freak dances doomed,” Sheffield Evening Telegraph, 12 August 1912.
2  “Doom of the Bunny Hug,” Yorkshire Evening Post, 13 August 1912.
3  “Wounded at the Dardanelles,” Middlesex Chronicle, 12 June 1915.
4  For comprehensive discographies of recordings by Billy Williams, see Brian Rust, British Music Hall on Record (Harrow, UK:
    Gramophone, 1979); and Frank Andrews and Ernie Bayly, Billy Williams’ Records: A Study in Discography (Bournemouth, UK:
    Talking Machine Review, 1982).