Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs
Synopsis of Pop Music
One, two, tres, cuatro..."
Garage band was all the rage on the pop charts during the mid-60’s, but few garage-rock hits are as durable as the one and only “Wooly Bully.” This zany-but-rocking tune was the creation of Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, a group that blended rock, soul and Latin influences into a totally personalized and party-hearty style of pop music. In the process, they scored several hits and paved the way for later Latin-influenced rock groups like the Sir Douglas Quintet and War.
Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs was formed by Domingo Samudio in Memphis during the early 1960’s. As the group gigged around town, they forged a unique style that blended traditional garage-style rock with the Latin sounds of Samudio’s youth. Samudio was sometimes teased and called a ‘sham’ singer for his comedic vocal style, so he adopted it into his stage name, Sam the Sham. In 1964, they released their first single, a cover of the novelty tune “Haunted House.” However, it was the next song that was the big success: “Wooly Bully” was a wacky, organ-driven romp inspired by Sam’s cat that went to #1 in 1965.
“Wooly Bully” set the tone for the career of Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs with its mixture of exuberant wit, driving rock energy and soul-music influences in the organ style and vocals. The group followed their first hit with similarly uptempo, r&b-inflected Top-40 hits like “Ju Ju Hand” and “Ring Dang Doo.” In 1966, they scored another smash with “Little Red Riding Hood,” a comic version of the fairy tale that was told from the Big Bad Wolf’s perspective (it turns out he just wants a date with her). It quickly became another garage-rock classic and shot to #2 in 1966.
Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs continued to score hits into 1967 with songs like “The Hair On My Chinny Chin Chin” and “How Do You Catch A Girl?” After a few more singles, they disbanded, and Samudio moved on to pursue more soulful sounds with his Sam the Sham Revue. He also cut a solo album called Sam, Hard and Heavy. This critically-acclaimed LP mixed blues, soul and rock into a heady stew that was anchored by up-and-coming guitarist Duane Allman. However, Samudio had retired from the music world by the early 1970’s to pursue other interests.
Samudio returned to the music world in 1982 when he assisted Ry Cooder in performing the soundtrack for the Jack Nicholson film, The Border. Today, he keeps one foot in the music world by occasionally recording and performing. Meanwhile, songs like “Little Red Riding Hood” are frequently played on oldies radio, and “Wooly Bully” has become a staple of any party-band worth their instruments. All in all, the one-of-a-kind sound of Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs will remain an important influence to rock and rollers for years to come.
Artist Release History1965 - Wooly Bully
1966 - Li'l Red Riding Hood
1970 - Sam, Hard & Heavy
1996 - Sam the Sham & Pharaohs
1998 - Pharoahization: The Best of Sam the Sham & the Pharoahs
Pop Sub Categoriesrock
Essential Music AlbumsPharoahization: the Best of Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs (Rhino)
Band MembersDomingo 'Sam' Samudio lead vocals, keyboards
Ray Stinnett guitar
David Martin bass
Jerry Patterson drums