“No one does it better (No one does it better).” – Ollie & Jerry
And no one did it better in 1984 for the poppers and the lockers than this duo that teamed up for the title track to the 1984 movie “Breakin’.” I had never seen this entire movie until a recent podcast I listen to (shoutout “Stuck in the 80’s“) covered this movie and its’ relevance coming on the heels of the COVID-related death of Adolfo “Shabba Doo” Quinones (aka Orlando “Ozone” in “Breakin'”) in December.
So I pulled the movie up on Youtube and watched it in the nine parts it’s broken into. The movie also features Christopher McDonald (who? you’ll recognize him when you see him), Ice-T, and even a cameo of Jean-Claude van Damme in his first role though it was so small it was uncredited. Saying the acting is poor is not even relevant for this movie, because if you’re watching it for the acting then you know nothing about “Breakin’.” The dancing is where it’s at and no one did it better in 1984 than Quinones and his co-star Michael “Boogaloo Shrimp” Chambers. I’m just hypothetically speaking though because I of course have no idea if anyone could do it better, but let’s just say these were two of the best.
By 1984, even kids in the sticks (like me in Seminole, Oklahoma) knew what poppin’ and lockin’ was, and we had all also seen Michael Jackson perform the mesmerizing moonwalk by this time. We (myself included) had all tried really hard to imitate it, but the results were poor at best. Interestingly, it was Chambers (after learning the move from his older brother) who had helped Michael Jackson perfect the moonwalk and taught him his style of popping as well.
Shortly after “Breakin'” exposed kids everywhere to the popular dance form, I bought this album below. Now, this is not to be confused with the 1984 album “Breakin'” from the movie I’ve been writing about so far. No, this was a different album with breakdance music that came with a “how-to” poster so you too could be the next “Ozone” or “Turbo.”
I actually think I owned the cassette, but whether it was the cassette or the album, I definitely had this poster. The album was produced by K-tel, a company that was popular particularly in the 60’s and 70’s for compilation albums. Think of it as the precursor to Spotify or Apple or Amazon Music playlists. People would purchase K-tel albums with hits from various artists. My first K-tel album was an album I think I got for Christmas in 1979 or possibly my birthday early in 1980, and it was called “Wings of Sound.”
The album definitely had some songs I played over and over in my room. The ones I enjoyed were the two Michael Jackson hits (“Rock With You” and “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough), “the Pina Colada Song” by Rupert Holmes, K.C. & The Sunshine Band’s “Please Don’t Go,” and “Lonesome Loser” by The Little River Band. Occasionally “This is It” by Kenny Loggins and “Ladies Night” by Kool and the Gang were allowed to play as well as Blondie’s “Dreaming.” The other songs by Journey, Nick Lowe, John Stewart, Bob Dylan, Sniff n’ the Tears, ABBA, and France Joli were all relegated to being skipped on the turntable if I was close by.
“Out in the street
You don’t survive by being weak
This is our time
Walls were made for us to climb”
So, back to my K-tel “Breakdance” album and poster… I worked diligently in my bedroom for what had to have been literally days, maybe even weeks (gasp!) trying my best to become the greatest break dancer in Seminole. I could actually moonwalk a little bit in my penny loafers. I could do a small amount of body poppin’. I could not top-rock, nor could I headspin. Pretty sure I hurt my neck at one point trying to headspin. So, utterly frustrated by my lack of mastery after at least two weeks, I did what any spoiled, lazy 13 year-old would do – I gave up.
I have no idea what happened to this poster or this album. I’m sure it was given away or sold in some garage sale or possibly just thrown out at some point. I have to imagine that the tracks on this album were hastily compiled without a thought or a care to longevity, but instead with a nod to the almighty dollar. No, this album wasn’t exactly put together to challenge The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” or Prince’s “Purple Rain” for greatness.
“Don’t you try to lock us out
Cause were breaking down the doors
And ohhhh…we just came to fight.”
And dance fighting they did in this movie! Ollie and Jerry (Ollie Brown & Jerry Knight) joined forces in 1984 for the movie soundtrack to “Breakin’,” and put together this masterpiece which peaked at #5 in the UK and #9 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
The duo never did much after this. They tried to duplicate their success with the song “Electric Boogaloo” from the sequel “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.” The song barely charted in the UK, and failed to chart in the U.S. Shortly thereafter, there was no more Ollie & Jerry. It’s ok though, because for three minutes and thirty seconds they gave dancing kids and dancing wannabes all over the world a classic in which to break, pop, lock, and spin.
Relive your youth and enjoy the dance craze that was sweeping the nation in 1984 with Ollie & Jerry and “Breakin’: There’s No Stopping Us.” Oh, and watch for Jean Claude in his black wrestling singlet dancing in the background around the 2:30-2:45 minute mark!
Thanks for reading, and now that there’s no stopping you, go show off your poppin’ and lockin’ skills.