This week’s Lost Treasure was the 2nd hit for Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs released in 1966 on MGM Records. “Lil’ Red Riding Hood” topped the charts that summer & made it to #1. Domingo “Sam” Samudio was born & raised in Dallas & began playing guitar & singing with friends in high school, including Trini Lopez. He formed the Pharaohs in 1961 & over the years the group would see many personnel changes. The inspiration for the name came from the costumes in Yul Brynner’s portrayal as pharaoh in the 1956 film “The Ten Commandments”. The original group disbanded in 1962 after a failed attempt to release a hit record. In 1963 he joined a Louisiana group called Andy & The Nightriders who had a steady gig playing clubs in the rural parts of that state. It was here that Sam took on the name ‘Sam The Sham’. In June 1963, The Nightriders headed for Memphis, and became the house band at The Diplomat night club. When original leader Andy Anderson left to return to Texas, Sam took on leading the band & renamed it Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs. The band caught the attention of an MGM talent scout scouring Memphis for talent & a first recording session yielded their first big hit “Wooly Bully”. After a couple of minor regional hits in Texas, most of the band members left in a financial dispute.
Sam brought in fresh talent to the group & it was this second version of The Pharaohs that recorded “Lil’ Red Riding Hood”. A series of mostly novelty tunes followed, all on the MGM label, keeping the group on the charts into 1967. Sam went off on his own, and in 1971, issued an Atlantic album called Sam, Hard and Heavy, which featured Duane Allman on guitar, the Dixie Flyers & Memphis Horns. The early 1980s found Sam working with Ry Cooder and Freddy Fender on the soundtrack for the Jack Nicholson movie “The Border”. After leaving the music business, Sam worked in Mexico as an interpreter and as a mate on small commercial boats in the Gulf of Mexico. Sam later became a motivational speaker and poet and still makes occasional concert appearances at age 83, primarily at the southwest Florida hangout Snook Haven. He was inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame in 2016. On a warm spring weekend, enjoy this classic from the summer of ’66 from your friends at Puget Sound Media!