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Novelty Song Friday #18 — “The Hair on My Chinny Chin Chin,” by Sam the Sham & The Pharoahs

Per wikipedia:
Domingo “Sam” Samudio (born February 28, 1937, in Dallas, Texas, United States), better known by his stage name Sam the Sham, is a retired American rock and roll singer. Sam the Sham was known for his camp robe and turban and hauling his equipment in a 1952 Packard hearse with maroon velvet curtains. As the front man for the Pharaohs, he sang on several Top 40 hits in the mid-1960s, notably the Billboard Hot 100 runners-up “Wooly Bully” and “Li’l Red Riding Hood”.

Samudio made his singing debut in second grade, representing his school in a radio broadcast. Later, he took up guitar and formed a group with friends, one of whom was Trini Lopez. After graduating from high school, Samudio joined the Navy, where he was known as “Big Sam.” He lived in Panama for six years, until his discharge.

Back in the States, Samudio enrolled in college, studying voice at Arlington State College, now the University of Texas at Arlington. He recalled:

I was studying classical in the daytime and playing rock and roll at night. That lasted about two years, before I dropped out and became a carny.

In Dallas in 1961, Sam formed The Pharaohs, the name inspired from the costumes in Yul Brynner’s portrayal as pharaoh in the 1956 film The Ten Commandments. The other members of The Pharaohs were Carl Miedke, Russell Fowler, Omar “Big Man” Lopez, and Vincent Lopez (no relation to Omar). In 1962, the group made a record that did not sell. The Pharaohs disbanded in 1962.

In May 1963, Vincent Lopez was playing for Andy and the Nightriders in Louisiana. When their organist quit, Sam joined. Andy and the Nightriders were Andy Anderson, David A. Martin, Vincent Lopez, and Sam. The Nightriders became house band at The Congo Club, near Leesville, Louisiana. It was here that Sam took the name Sam the Sham from a joke about his inability as a vocalist.

In June 1963, The Nightriders headed for Memphis, Tennessee, and became the house band at The Diplomat. In late summer 1963, Andy Anderson and Vincent Lopez left to return to Texas. Sam and David A. Martin replaced them with Jerry Patterson and Ray Stinnett and changed the band’s name to Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs. Shortly thereafter, the band added saxophonist Butch Gibson.

After paying to record and press records to sell at gigs, Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs wound up with the XL label in Memphis. There they recorded their first and biggest hit, “Wooly Bully“, in late 1964. Once MGM picked up the record, “Wooly Bully” ended up selling three million copies and reaching No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 on 5 June 1965, at a time when American pop music charts were dominated by the British Invasion. It was awarded a gold disc. Leonard Stogel was their manager.

Although “Wooly Bully” never reached #1, it lingered on the Hot 100 for 18 weeks, the most weeks for any single within the calendar year 1965, 14 of which were in the Top 40. The record achieved the distinction of becoming the first Billboard “Number One Record of the Year” not to have topped a weekly Hot 100 and remained the only one for 35 years.

The Pharaohs’ next releases – “Ju Ju Hand” (#26 US, Canadian #31) and “Ring Dang Doo” – were minor successes. In late 1965, 11 months after “Wooly Bully”, David A. Martin, Jerry Patterson, Ray Stinnett, and Butch Gibson left over a financial dispute. Sam’s manager, Leonard Stogel, discovered Tony Gee & The Gypsys at the Metropole Cafe in Times Square, New York City. The band were Tony “Butch” Gerace (bass guitar and vocals), Frankie Carabetta (keyboards, saxophone and vocals), Billy Bennett (drums and percussion), and Andy Kuha (guitar and vocals).

This new set of Pharaohs recorded “Li’l Red Riding Hood“. On the Hot 100, “Lil’ Red Riding Hood” began its two-week peak at #2 the week of August 6, 1966, just as another fairy tale title, “The Pied Piper” by Crispian St. Peters, was ending its three-week peak at #4. The track did even better by Cash Box Magazine’s reckoning, reaching #1 the same week. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. It also reached #2 on the Canadian RPM Magazine charts August 22, 1966.

A series of mostly novelty tunes followed, all on the MGM label, keeping the group on the charts into 1967. Titles included “The Hair on My Chinny Chin Chin” (US #22, Canadian #13), “How Do You Catch a Girl” (US #27, Canadian #12), “I Couldn’t Spell !!*@!”, and the rather confusing lyrics of “Oh That’s Good, No That’s Bad” (US #54.)

In 1966, their album, “The Best of Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs” was released. The single from it, “The Hair on My Chinny Chin Chin” peaked at 22 on the US Hot 100 and at 13 on the Canadian chart.

 

 

 

Who’s there? Howl, it’s me again
I’ll huff and puff and blow your little house down

You hid your heart in a house of bricks
And locked all the doors and windows
I’ve already used a whole bag of tricks
I can’t find a way to get in though

You don’t want to let a new love start
So you put a brick house around your heart
But I’m gonna keep hangin’ around
Till I huff and puff and blow your little house down

Now let me back up and get me a good breath

I swear by the hair on my chinny chin chin
I’m gonna find a way to get in
I’m gonna keep hangin’ around
Till I huff and puff and blow your little house down

Now, little Red Riding Hood, I know you’re in there
Tell ’em little pig to open up the door

Your heart was broken once before
Now my heart can’t get near you
I’d like to make up for his mistakes
But another love just scares you

You don’t wanna let a new love start
So you put a brick house around your heart
But I’m gonna keep hangin’ around
Till I huff and puff and blow your little house down

Now listen little pigs
I’m gonna let you off the hook if you open the door now

I swear by the hair on my chinny chin chin
I’m gonna find a way to get in
I’m gonna keep hangin’ around
Till I huff and puff and blow your little house down

Awright I warned ya now
Oh me, if grandma hadn’t run me so bad
I wouldn’t be so outta air
Now, come on pigs open up this door
Songwriters: Blackwell / Ronald Blackwell

9 thoughts on “Novelty Song Friday #18 — “The Hair on My Chinny Chin Chin,” by Sam the Sham & The Pharoahs

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