Can you do “The Flake?” If you can, you know the “crazy new dance that’s the talk of the town.”
In a cross-promotion offer between Liberty Records and Kellogg’s Corn Flakes breakfast cereal, 35 cents and 2 box tops would send an extended play record and step-by-step dance instructions to your mailbox.
As recorded by the hit band Gary Lewis and the Playboys, “Doin’ The Flake” was the flip side to a 45 RPM single of their first Top 40 hit, “This Diamond Ring,” that hit the charts in 1965. This special record also featured “Little Miss Go-Go,” the B-side of the regular studio release.
Born in 1946, Gary Lewis is the oldest son of comedian Jerry Lewis (1926- 2017) and was the drummer for his band that included friends Dave Walker and Dave Costell on guitar, Al Ramsey on bass, and John West playing the Cordovox accordion. While playing some sets at Disneyland in 1964, they were approached by producer Snuff Garrett, who got the band signed with Liberty Records.
“Doin’ The Flake” was written by Lewis and co-writers T. Leslie and Leon Russel (1942-2016), who also arranged most of the band’s first album; Russel would go on to have his own successful recording career during the 1970’s. The song lyrics attempted to catch the vibe of the California beach party craze:
“Everybody from miles around, comes out dancing when they hear this sound, the crazy new dance that’s the talk of the town, to do the Flake. You get Peggy and I’ll get Sue, we’ll head on down to Malibu, all our friends will be there too, to do the Flake. Surf, sand, sun and fun makes the day at Malibu. Run, stop, listen, when you hear that beat, it’s easy to do, just move your feet. Shooting the curls ‘til the surf’s all gone, dance in the sand with your baggies on, grab yourself a chick and swing along to the Flake.”
The record’s cover sleeve features four dances, The Bowl, Rooster Rock, Turn the Flake, and Knee-Up-A-Hop-and-Stop-on-the-Chop, all illustrated by the Corn Flakes rooster mascot, Cornelious.
Toasted Corn Flakes were created in 1894 at the Battle Creek Sanitarium operated by John H. Kellogg as part of his health regime. He received US Patent No. 558,393 for his “Flaked Cereals and Process of Preparing Same” in 1896 but it was his brother Will that produced and marketed the cereal after purchasing the rights. W.K. Kellogg created the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company in 1906 and began offering premiums with purchase by 1909.
Gary Lewis and the Playboys recorded 12 albums between 1965 and 1967, despite the fact that Lewis was drafted in 1966 and could only record during leaves. After his release from the Army, he tried to continue his career but the music scene had changed. He continues to perform and has nine performances scheduled for 2023.