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

 |   |  1 min read

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.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

The Remains: Don't Look Back (1966)

The Remains: Don't Look Back (1966)

Pub quiz time: Which four-piece Sixties group quickly became adept at wrting their own material, built a local following, eventually appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, hung out with the Byrds in... > Read more

The Tickle: Subway (1967)

The Tickle: Subway (1967)

These none-hit wonders have quite a remarkable claim to fame, if fame can be reduced to a footnote in rock history. The Tickle from Hull were the backing band on the debut album of a guy called... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Various Artists: God Don't Never Change; The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson (Alligator/Southbound)

Various Artists: God Don't Never Change; The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson (Alligator/Southbound)

Late last year Elsewhere essayed the life and music of the great Blind Willie Johnson, the man who gave blues (and then rock and country) such cornerstone songs as It's Nobody's Fault But Mine,... > Read more

MUSICIANS' FEARS HEIGHTEN BECAUSE OF LOCKDOWN (2020): Experts warn worse to come

MUSICIANS' FEARS HEIGHTEN BECAUSE OF LOCKDOWN (2020): Experts warn worse to come

Authorities in the US confirmed yesterday that with the release of Taylor Swift's new album Fauxklore, the number of albums recorded in lockdown had reached 75,000 and rising. “However... > Read more