Roll In With Olin


Senator Olin Johnston with his wife Gladys and daughter Liz in 1957

Political campaigns require a great deal from candidates.  They have to have the “fire in the belly” to withstand the rigors of a contested election and use all manner of “tools” to reach out to voters.  These might consist of meet and greets, door-to-door solicitation, clever advertising, yard signs, billboards, and recently, robo-calling.  Music has long been an effective tool used well by many campaigners.

“Roll In With Olin” was the campaign song used by U.S. Senator Olin D. Johnston, whose papers formed the University’s first major congressional collection when they were received in 1965 shortly after the Senator’s death.

The catchy song was written by Jimmy McHugh (1894–1969) a prolific songwriter active from the 1920s to the 1950s.  His songs were recorded by artists including Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Billie Holiday, Peggy Lee, and Frank Sinatra.

Liz Patterson

Liz Johnston (Patterson) campaigned for her father at the fair in Anderson, SC.

Daughter Liz Patterson recalls that the piece was so popular, it even played on the jukeboxes at the beach.  She recounts that Johnston’s connection to McHugh came through a relation who had moved to Hollywood.

We believe this recording was issued during Johnston’s final reelection campaign of 1962, when he turned back challenges by then-Governor Fritz Hollings in the Democratic primary, and Republican Bill Workman in the general election.

Please click below to hear two versions of this short campaign ditty.  Listen along as the song encourages voters to support “the tried and true . . . man who will fight for you.”

By Herb Hartsook

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