Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs: Woolly Bully

This weeks’s poetry JukeBox has been sent in by Don Jenkins. Don is the doyen of the Rave scene in Newcastle (can you use the word “Doyen” in relation to Rave?) and one of the hosts of “Born Lippy” an excellent night that combines Spoken Word, Rap and Hip Hop at the Cobalt Studios. His song is Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs “Woolly Bully”. Woolly Bully was released in 1965 and sold 3 million copies.Wooly_Bully

Here is some interesting info from the song’s Wikipedia entry

As the Pharaohs prepared to write their debut album, lead singer “Sam the Sham” (Domingo Samudio) wanted to write a tribute to the Hully Gully dance. His record label’s legal department feared using that title due to the existence of another song with a similar title. The song was given the green light after Sam rewrote the lyrics and replaced “Hully Gully” with “Wooly Bully”.

The lyrics of “Wooly Bully” were hard to understand and describe a conversation between “Mattie” and “Hattie” concerning the “Wooly Bully” (a creature which Mattie describes as “a thing she saw [that] had two big horns and a wooly jaw”) and the desirability of developing dancing skills, although no attempt is made to synthesise these divergent topics. The warning, “Let’s not be L-7”, means “Let’s not be square”, from the shape formed by the fingers making an L on one hand and a 7 on the other. Sam the Sham underscores the Tex-Mex nature of the song by counting out the rhythm in Spanish and English (“Uno! Dos! One, two, tres, cuatro!”), and the characteristic simple organ riffing. “

L7I asked Don about his choice and he tells me that he loves this song because of the simplicity of the lyrics and he says the reference to the L7 reminded him of his school days when they used the sign L7 to describe people they thought were square “uncool”. Going Home from school, he remembered, was all about the bus. Your life at school was about progressing up the bus.The little kids sat at the front and the cool kids were on the back seats. Each year you got a little closer to the cool seats in the last row.

Don also told me a story about when his 9 year old son made the loser sign at  him and it spurred him to write a conversation between him and his son. to read the story  click this link~$N RULES TO BE BROKEN

My poem is inspired more by Don’s story than the song itself.



Written above the back window

Of the number twenty bus

In black felt tip pen

Were the words…

“Jeff Price is Lush”

The black blazered occupants

Of the school bus high table

Were derisory

Laughing at the suggestion

That the author

Could be a girl or even a boy

That the word “Lush”

Wasn’t an epithet

That could be applied

Or even implied

About this shy and introverted boy

They all agreed that the writer

Was much more likely

To be Jeff Price himself

Sadly, they were right


© Jeff Price September 2018

Please Note. Any resemblance in this poem to any person named “Jeff Price” living or dead is purely coincidental.


Pudding Head


Big Star “Thirteen”

This weeks Poetry JukeBox hit has been nominated by Chris “The Captain” Moir the drummer and backing vocalist of the legendary “Dikki Hart Orkestra”.jukebox

Big Star was an American rock band formed in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1971 by Alex Chilton, Chris Bell, Jody Stephens, and Andy Hummel. The group broke up in early 1975, and reorganised with a new line-up 18 years later following a reunion concert at the University of Missouri.

big star.jpgThe band’s musical style drew on the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and The Byrds.  Before they broke up, Big Star created a “seminal body of work that never stopped inspiring succeeding generations” in the words of Rolling Stone, as the “quintessential American power pop band” and “one of the most mythic and influential cult acts in all of rock & roll”.

Chris says the song is about that moment when you are still innocent. The cusp between childhood and adulthood. He calls it a melancholy song. He adds “Teenage Fanclub’s album “Thirteen” is named after it”.

Pudding Head


My Father had decided

On for my thirteenth birthday

To treat me to a haircut

At Bartie Wilson’s Barbershop

On Westgate Road


Bartie only one style

Learnt when scalping recruits

in his far off Army days

The short back and sides

Or Basin Cut


A pudding basin was placed on my head

Everything that stuck out was cut off

By the sheep shears

That ran up  my scalp like a lawn mower

My Elvis quiff hacked off

Until I looked like an escaped convict


On 27th November 1961

I walked through the door of

Of St James and St Basil’s Youth Club

A scalped, skinny and self conscious

Clueless teenager with spots and spectacles


I don’t recall the gift from my parents

For my thirteenth birthday

But I do remember the giggles of the girls

And the chorus of “slaphead” from the boys


On the Youth Club record player

Elvis Presley sang

“Are you lonesome tonight”


© Jeff Price September 2018


A Geordie Love Poem

Bruce Channel “Hey! Baby”

This is the first of the Poetry JukeBox. The buttons were pressed by Bristol poet David C Johnson.

David has been a regular visitor to Tyneside over the years and will be returning in March 2019 as a guest poet at the Great Northern Slam. I have also some very happy memories of performing in Bristol as part of the Poetry Vandals. During the Bristol Poetry Festival we performed at the Polish Club and the evening was memorable not only for its lovely and appreciative audience but for the large quantities of ultra strong Polish beer we drank after the show.  jukebox

“Hey! Baby”  was released in 1962 by Bruce Channel (real name Bruce McMeans). It sold more than one million copies and was awarded a gold disc. Channel had a couple of other minor hits but his career never really took off and he is considered a one hit wonder.

b7b1b283fc9c4acc813fc608d465ec1bChannel did tour Europe and was supported at one gig by the Beatles, (before they were famous). John Lennon, who had “Hey! Baby” on his jukebox, was fascinated by  the harmonica segment in “Hey! Baby” and if you listen to “Love me Do” you can hear the influence. 

The main appeal of “Hey! Baby” is probably the sustained first note, with a rhythmic pattern in the background. This device was used in 1962 for “Sherry”  by the Four Seasons

Coincidentally Bruce’s  birthday is the day after mine on 28th November.

A love song leads to a love poem and in this case a Geordie love poem.


A Geordie Love Poem


She’s a diamond, that lass of mine

There were days when she lost her shine

Still the light shone through the dirt and the grime

The difficult days and the uphill days

But we were always rooted in trust

And if you must, in the way we talked

About it all

Until the small hours

On summer’s nights and campsites

In bars and clubs and seedy pubs

Sulks and silence accomplish nothing

But words set us free to be

Who we are

She is better than me in so many ways

I learn to be better when she shows me the way

She is more important to me

Than football


© Jeff Price August 2018


Lambchop “Soaky in the Pooper”

This strange and melancholic song tells the tale of a man dying alone in a toilet and wasjukebox requested on the Poetry JukeBox by crime writer, poet and retired turkey inseminator Alfie Crow. In Alfie’s email he said ” It contains a line about a man’s funeral that ‘all the mourners travelled in one car...” A terribly sad song about a lonely death can be achingly beautiful at the same time.

lambchopLambchop, originally Posterchild, is an American band from Nashville. Never a band with a core lineup, Lambchop has consisted of a large and fluid collective of musicians focused around its creative centre, frontman Kurt Wagner. 

The song reminded me of a guy I knew years ago who was one of the “cool” people of Newcastle but heroin addiction cut his life short and he died a pauper’s death. Although in his last few years he had few friends, there was a large turnout for his funeral. He was not the first and would not be the last to have his life cut short by heroin and to die a lonely death like Soaky.




You were always the cool one

With your long black coat and dark hair

You were debonair

With a flare for the outrageous

And a penchant for dangerous drugs


“Norman” is not the coolest name

But you gave it mystery

You were dismissive and disdainful

Of those too eager to please

Indulgent and generous to those

Who you considered a friend


Years later someone said they saw

You begging on the High Street

Asking strangers for change

Your hair grey and dirty

Your good looks stolen


When they buried you

The man from the homeless shelter

Said he was surprised

That so many people turned up

“Usually” he said with a puzzled look

“The mourners come in one car”


© Jeff Price August 2018