Sam the Sham

At last, it all makes sense: Domingo “Sam” Samudio, who topped the charts with “Wooly Bully” in 1965 as the leader of Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, studied voice at Arlington State College (now the University of Texas at Arlington) and is an opera fan! Why didn’t he pursue a life in opera? “I had the pipes, but I never could get a handle on sight-reading,” says Samudio, who remembers participating in a Fort Worth production of Boris Godunov, then rushing back home to Dallas to sing the evening’s last three sets with his band. But that was years before he made it onto Ed Sullivan. Looking like the chorus from a bad production of Aïda, Sam and the Pharaohs donned gold jackets and turbans for their triumphal appearance. At the height of the British invasion, the group sold 3.5 million copies of the novelty rocker, and in 1966 their playfully wolfish “Li’l Red Riding Hood” climbed to number two on Billboard’s pop singles chart. But by the end of the sixties, the band had dissolved. With the backing of Atlantic Records, Samudio put together a fine group of musicians (including the Memphis Horns and Duane Allman) for a serious debut solo album, Sam, Hard and Heavy. While the album received critical praise and won Samudio a 1971 Grammy for the liner notes, it was the last album he released on a major label. The good news is, the 64-year-old Samudio has four new albums that he’s proud of, all produced in his home studio outside Memphis, where he lives with his wife, Ann, and his hounds, Buck and Chuck. The bad news is, the albums are “in the can” but not in the stores. Are you listening, record companies?

More Texas Monthly

Loading, please wait...

Most Read

  • Viewed
  • Past:
  • 1 week