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Album: Greatest HitsReleased: 1965Charted:
The title is pure nonsense, but of course a few theories sprouted up to explain what the phrase "Wooly Bully" meant. Our favorites:
- An expression people used as a way of congratulating each other.
- Sam's pet cat.
There aren't many lyrics in this song that don't contain the words "Wooly" or "Bully," but one line managed to capture a fleeting piece of '60s slang: In the line, "Let's not be L-7, come and learn to dance," "L-7" was an unhip person - someone just not with it. More literally, it means let's not be squares. If you put an L and a 7 together you get, more or less, a square.
The song starts off with Sam the Sham counting off the tune "one two three four," in Spanish ("Uno, dos, one, two, tres, quatro"). U2 appropriated this concept when they used a Spanish count-in on their song "Vertigo
This was featured in the 1987 film Full Metal Jacket.
"Sam" was Domingo Samudio. The term "Sham" mean jive talk. His backup group The Pharaohs wore strange Egyptian outfits. They had 5 more Top 40 US hits including the #2 song "Lil Red Riding Hood." Samudio recorded solo for Atlantic Records in 1970, reformed The Pharaohs in 1974 and later became a street preacher in Memphis.
The Mexican rhythm helped bring that sound into the mainstream. Songs like "Tequila" and "La Bamba" did so in the '50s, but this may have been the bridge between those songs and "Macarena."
A sequel to the song titled "Wooly Bully Again" was recorded in 1966 by a Winston-Salem, North Carolina group, The Soul Brothers. Domingo Samudio was contacted, but showed no interest in it.
This was the best-selling song of 1965 in the USA despite not making #1.
This was the first American record to sell a million copies during the British Invasion.
The song was recorded at Phillips Recording Service in Memphis, which was owned by Sam Phillips. Built in 1958, the studio replaced Sun Studio, where Phillips recorded Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison. Phillips Recording Service had some success, also recording "Lonely Weekends" by Charlie Rich, but Sam Phillips withdrew from the business and sold Sun Records in the late '60s.