Barry Mann, who made his mark as a songwriter, was also a recording artist early in his career. He co-wrote this song with Gerry Goffin, scoring his only hit as a vocalist. Mann would later marry fellow-songwriter Cynthia Weil and team up with her for many famous hits, including "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," "Don't Know Much" and "Blame It On The Bossa Nova."
The Halos provided backup vocals for this song. Previously, they sang backup on Curtis Lee's hit "Pretty Little Angel Eyes."
This song is self-referential, as it was a hit about songwriters for a songwriter. It is also self-mocking as it makes fun of the different gibberish lyrics that were used in many songs during that time period. The gibberish words that are referenced are "bomp ba ba bomp ba bomp ba bomp bomp," "dip de dip de dip" (both from the Marcels' hit "Blue Moon"), "rama lama ding dong" (from the Edsels' song of the same name), "bop shoo bop shoo bop" (used in several songs of that time), and "boogity boogity shoo" (from Chubby Checker's hit "Pony Time").
During the same year that Mann's version became a hit in the US, a cover version by the Viscounts peaked at #21 in the UK. Showaddywaddy reached US #37 in 1982 with their cover.
The song's title was the inspiration for the fanzine's title of "Who Put the Bomp" (edited by Greg Shaw), which was active from 1970 to 1979.
This is one of those songs that beat from the very heart of Brill Building culture, this time courtesy of Aldon Music. As given in Rich Podolsky's book Don Kirshner: The Man with the Golden Ear, Barry Mann and Gerry Goffin threw this out during a playful experiment where they were seeing how many songs they could write in half an hour. "Who Put the Bomp" took all of five minutes.
Quite a bit of false starts were tried before the recording of this song came together. First they needed a Doo-Wop group to back up the lead, so Aldon songwriter Jack Keller hung out in the halls of the Brill Building eavesdropping on recording sessions. He found one group and auditioned them in the stairwell, but they sounded better there than they did by the time they got to the studio. Next, they gave Carole King (also of Aldon) a turn at the microphone, but she was less than two notes into the song when Gerry Goffin yelled at her from the engineer's booth that she was ruining the song. Finally everybody got their act together and the recording went through.
This was the only hit for Barry Mann as a recording artist. While he would go on to write an astonishing string of hits for other artists, his own singing career would languish in obscurity after this. He even poked fun at himself by recording a song called "Teenage Has Been."
Rich Podolsky's book also gives us a glimpse into one of history's most doted-upon songwriting sweethearts, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. For Cynthia, it was quite literally love at first sight, when he came in while she was working at the office of another song publisher. Point blank, she asked the secretary "Who's the cute guy?" followed by "Is he married?" After finding out that he worked at Aldon Music, she started hanging out over there, almost stalking him until they could be properly introduced.