Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs: Wooly Bully (1964)

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Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs: Wooly Bully (1964)

When this out-of-the-blue single raced around the globe at the height of Beatlemania it sounded like a typically gimmicky hit of the period.

The band name, Sam wearing a turban and the group dressed like Arabs didn't exactly deny it.

You might have expected them to disappear immediately.

But they didn't.

They came back with a slightly sleazy slice of rough garageband rock on Li'l Red Riding Hood (gimmicky but thoroughly enjoyable) and then The Hair of My Chinny Chin Chin (the unrequested sequel to Li'l Red Riding Hood). Yep, Sam the Sham from Memphis were about as relevant as Freddie and the Dreamers were to the British Invasion.

Well, not quite.

Domingo Zamudio (Sam) from Dallas then Memphis had been a journeyman musician around clubs and chicken-wire bars for years, had played bills with blues and rock'n'roll legends, and was on his way to creating a meltdown of Tex-Mex music and rock'n'roll. Wooly Bully was his first grasp at taking it global, and maybe if it hadn't been such a huge hit he wouldn't have shifted to being a hit-making volume dealer knocking out novelty songs (the Riding Hood songs, El Toro de Goro, I'm In with the Out Crowd).

His story is told by Sam himself in Garth Cartwright's excellent More Miles Than Money (quit music, worked boats, got religion) but Wooly Bully stands as a terrific slice of Tex-Mex rock'n'roll right from the opening when Sam shouts, "un, dos . . . one, two, tres, quatro".

Now, where is that ? and the Mysterian's single 96 Tears?

Oh! It's here

For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory use the RSS feed for daily updates, and check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.

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