The Mashed Potato is a rhythm and blues song that became a popular dance craze in 1962. Made famous by the James Brown’s song “(Do the) Mashed Potatoes” in 1959, it was released as a two-part single in 1960. Although Brown wrote the song, accreditation went to Brown’s pseudonym, Dessie Rozier—with help from drummer Nat Kendrick—in order to keep the recording from Syd Nathan, the head if King Records, who had declined to record it.
Brown then reached out to Henry Stone at Dade Records and recorded the song in their Miami studio. Riding high on the Billboard Top 100 at number 84 in 1960, James Brown recorded a second Mashed Potato song, “Mashed Potatoes U.S.A.” in 1962, which reached #21 on the R&B chart and #84 on the pop chart.
The moves were also danced to “Mashed Potato” time, performed by Dee Dee Sharp and written by Barry Mann and Bernie Lowe, reaching #1 on the U.S R&B chart. The dance’s introduction was noted in the lyrics of the Motown Mega Hit “Do you Love Me,” performed by the Contours and written by Berry Gordy in 1962. Brown did a remake of “Do the Mashed Potatoes” in 1980 for his album Soul Syndrome.
Here is how to do the Mashed Potato:
The basic moves of this dance are like the Charleston from the 1920’s. If you can do the Charleston, then this is will be simple.
Stand with heels faced inward, using the balls of your feet then rotate the heels outward then inward two times.
On the last outward rotation, transfer your weight to your right foot and lift the left leg out to the side, keeping the left heel facing outward as you raise it.
When you bring your leg back down, both feet should be in an inward position. Repeat the outward then inward motion of the heels with both feet two times, then transfer your weight to the left foot and raise your right leg outward, again keeping your right heel outward as it is raised.
Bring the leg back down to end in an inward position and repeat as many times as desired. With every repetition your feet move a little farther apart.
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