Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs were a frat rock band led by Domingo "Sam" Samudio that became famous during the mid 1960s for their lovably goofy songs. As a live act, they were known for their comical onstage routines and ancient Egyptian-themed costumes, and they often hauled their gear around in a 1952 Packard hearse while touring.
The band's origins date to 1963 when Samudio joined a Louisiana-based group known as Andy & The Nightriders led by Andy Anderson. After Anderson left later that year, Samudio became the lead singer and renamed the band Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs. At that time, The Pharaohs consisted of David A. Martin (ca. 1937 - August 2, 1987), Jerry Patterson, and Ray Stinnett, with Butch Gibson joining shortly thereafter. In late 1965, all The Pharaohs members left the band over disagreements and were replaced by Billy Bennett, Frankie Carabetta, Tony "Butch" Gerace, and Andy Kuha. At the height of their fame, Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs toured the world and opened for such top acts as The Beach Boys, James Brown, Sonny & Cher, and Peter & Gordon.
Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs debuted on the Pop/Rock charts in early 1965 with the raucous party rocker, "Wooly Bully," which shot up to #2 on the Billboard 100 and went on to sell over 3 million copies. This smash was followed later that year by two Top 40 hits, "Ju Ju Hand" and "Ring Dang Doo," and "Red Hot" in early 1966. The band had another smash hit in 1966 with "Lil' Red Riding Hood" which went gold shortly thereafter. Two more Top 40 hits followed later that year, "The Hair On My Chinny Chin Chin" and "How Do You Catch A Girl." Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs' string of mostly novelty hits, which continued through 1968, also included "Oh That's Good, No That's Bad" (1967), "Black Sheep" (1967), and their cover of The Coasters' "Yakety Yak" (1967).
Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs also had a live Revue that featured an all-female trio, Fran Curcio, Lorraine Gennaro, and Jane Anderson. Known as The Shamettes, they served as backup singers and also acted as the band's sidekicks. After "Lil' Red Riding Hood" became a hit, they were called upon to record an answer song, "(Hey There) Big Bad Wolf."
Samudio went on to record solo in 1970 and released an album the following year titled "Sam, Hard And Heavy," which featured The Dixie Flyers and famed guitarist Duane Allman and won a Grammy Award for Best Album Notes. He recorded several other albums over the years and, during the early 1980s, collaborated with Freddy Fender and Ry Cooder on the soundtrack to the 1982 movie, "The Border."
- Domingo Samudio discusses how he got the stage name Sam The Sham, the band's transition from R&B to novelty, the true meaning of "Wooly Bully," and other topics in an interview with Gary James on classicbands.com.
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Sam The Sham And The Pharaohs
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