Double Dutch Bus by Frankie Smith

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Double Dutch Bus – Frankie Smith

The song title represents a combination of two institutions in Smith’s Philadelphia, Pennsylvania neighborhood: the double Dutch jump rope game played by neighborhood kids; and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) bus system that was a backbone of the local transportation network (and for which Smith had unsuccessfully applied for a bus driving position; the Transpass referred to in the song is an actual SEPTA monthly fare pass).

Smith and co-writer Bill Bloom persuaded contacts at WMOT Records to finance the song, and it was recorded in early 1981, engineered by Gene Leone.

The song rocketed to popularity in a matter of weeks and debuted on the US Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart in February, rising to the top spot by July, where it held at number one for four weeks. It also crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100, where it peaked at number 30 in the summer of 1981.

The record became only the second in history (following the 1979 Barbra Streisand/Donna Summer duet “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)”), and remains one of the few, to receive two separate standard-release Gold certifications from the RIAA: first in June 1981 for sales of the 12″ single; and a second Gold record in September 1981 for sales of the 7″ edit.

In the National Geographic documentary “King of Coke: Living the High Life” Frankie Smith explains how the song was composed. He also states that WMOT Records failed to pay him his royalties, and how he therefore was unable to pay his taxes. An investigation was started which brought to light that WMOT Records was not only badly managed, but in fact laundering money for Larry Lavin, aka Dr. Snow, a dentist who was secretly dealing cocaine. This way, the success of “Double Dutch Bus” indirectly caused the end of a major drugs business.

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