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.


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