This song was written quickly, but it wasn't written by Darin alone. Peter Altschuler at the Murray the K archives explains:
"The title was suggested by Murray 'the K' Kaufman's mother, Jean, but she also penned the music; Bobby and Murray wrote the lyrics. Murray was a very influential DJ in New York, and had been championing Bobby for awhile, but Darin's recordings weren't going anywhere. The two, however, had become good friends and, one weekend, played together in a softball game in Central Park. Afterward, they walked to Murray's apartment just south of the park and recovered by soaking their feet in basins of Epsom salts.
As she did every day, Murray's mother Jean called to check on her only son, and Murray told her about the game (a celebrity event to promote some good cause or other) and about 'the agony of de feet.' As soon as the call ended, the phone rang again, and Jean, who'd been a piano player in vaudeville, announced she had an idea for a song - 'Splish, splash, take a bath.' With that as a starting point, Murray and Bobby worked on the lyrics, Jean collaborated on the tune, and they marched the song over to Atlantic Records, which was Darin's label. At Atlantic, according to Jerry Wexler when I spoke with him in the mid '80s, he thought that the song had a chance, but Ahmet Ertegun was dead set against it. Jerry, of course, prevailed, and the tune became Darin's first of many hits.
Whether Wexler's story is accurate (Ertegun claimed in a PBS documentary about Darin that he was the song's defender) is moot. Yet the notion that 'Splish Splash' leapt fully formed from Darin's mind like Athena from the head of Zeus is just as mythological."
Murray also co-wrote and performed "It's What's Happenin', Baby" (backed with "Sins of A Family" by P.F. Sloan), a song that was done primarily to promote Murray's signature phrase and his connection to the CBS television special of the same name that he hosted and co-produced in 1965 for the Federal Office of Economic Opportunity. Beyond that, his contribution to the world of pop music was two novelty tunes from the early '50s: "Out Of The Bushes" (co-written by guitar great Billy Mure who also composed Murray's "Swingin' Soiree" theme, which was performed by the Delicates who, later, became the Angels) and "The Crazy Otto Rag" - on which he was the singer, plus "The Lone Twister" which he did as a contest promo for WINS radio, his home from 1958-1965.
In their continuing quest to encourage kids to take baths, Sesame Street has used this on a few of their albums. It is a very popular song for kids, especially when performed by Elmo.
This was released on Atlantic Records at a time when they were struggling to pay their artists. According to Jerry Wexler, who ran the company with Ahmet Ertegun, they had stopped paying themselves and needed money to resign The Clovers when this song and "Yakety Yak" by The Coasters broke through and got the company out of trouble. Atlantic went on to sign Led Zeppelin, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, The Rolling Stones and many other legendary artists.
The "Movin' and a groovin'" lyric was lifted from a 1958 Duane Eddy song called "Moovin' 'N' Groovin'." Eddy claimed that Darin asked permission to use it, which he happily granted. "That's just music, sharing little bits of melody and all," said Eddy.
This was Bobby Darin's first hit. He had signed with Atlantic Records after an unsuccessful stint at Decca. After three unsuccessful sessions at Atlantic with Herb Abramson producing, Ahmet Ertegun, who was head of the label, decided to produce Darin himself. "Splish Splash" was recorded on April 10, 1958 along with "Judy Don't Be Moody" and "Queen of the Hop." The recording took place at Atlantic's studios in New York with their renowned engineer Tom Dowd at the controls. Darin soon became a star, but left Atlantic for Capitol Records in 1962.