Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs was a regional group out of Texas who went to Memphis and recorded some novelty tunes in the 60's. Although they didn't last very long, their legacy was some of the most memorable records of the decade.
Formed in Texas in the early 60's, the group featured lead singer Sam the Sham, who had been born in Dallas in 1940 and whose real name was Domingo Samudio. It also included Ray Stinnet on guitar, David Martin on bass, and Jerry Patterson on drums with contributions from sax player Butch Gibson. The group went to Memphis and began recording, at first on the Dingo label.
Their most notable early record was a cover of a novelty tune by Johnny Fuller called Haunted House. Another cover of the same record, by Jumpin' Gene Simmons, went on to be a big hit nationally, but the version by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs didn't sell well and the group wound up with the Pen label in Memphis. There, they recorded what would prove to be their first and biggest hit ever, Wooly Bully. The record was leased in 1965 to MGM, which issued all of the group's subsequent hits.
A series of mostly novelty tunes followed and kept the group on the charts into 1967. The titles of these songs included Ju Ju Hand, Ring Dang Doo, The Hair On My Chinny Chin Chin, and How Do You Catch A Girl. They also had a huge success with Lil' Red Riding Hood, their second and last top ten entry.
By 1967 the music scene was changing and the music of Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs was no longer selling. In 1970 Samudio went on his own and issued an album called Sam, Hard and Heavy on Atlantic. He formed a new band in 1974. The early 80's found Sam working with Ry Cooder on the soundtrack for the film The Border.
Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs is a group that is remembered well by those who enjoyed pop music in the 60's.
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