"Willie and the Hand Jive
" is a song written by Johnny Otis and originally released as a single in 1958 by Johnny Otis Show. The song has a Bo Diddley beat and was partly inspired by the music sung by a chain gang Otis heard while he was touring. In a sense, the story is similar to that of Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode", which tells of someone who became famous for playing the guitar and was released two months before "Willie and the Hand Jive". The origin of the song came when one of Otis' managers, Hal Ziegler, found out that rock'n'roll concert venues in England did not permit the teenagers to stand up and dance in the aisles, so they instead danced with their hands while remaining in their seats. At Otis' concerts, performers would demonstrate Willie's "hand jive" dance
to the audience, so the audience could dance along. The dance consisted of clapping two fists together one on top of the other, followed by rolling the arms around each other. Otis' label, Capitol Records, also provided diagrams showing how to do the hand jive dance. Despite the song's references to dancing, and despite the demonstrations of the dance during performances, would-be censors believed that the song glorified masturbation. As recently as 1992, an interviewer for NPRasked Otis "Is 'Hand Jive' really about masturbation?". Otis was frustrated by this misinterpretation.