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Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs

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Sam the Sham is the stage name of singer Domingo “Sam” Samudio from Dallas, Texas. Sam the Sham would later be known for his campy onstage attire of robe and turban (inspiring one of the great tribute album names, Norton Records’ 1994 release ‘Turban Renewal’) and hauling his equipment around in a 1952 Packard hearse, complete with maroon velvet curtains. Samudio made his singing debut while still in second grade, representing his school in a live radio broadcast. Later, he took up guitar and formed a high school group with some friends, one of whom was Trini Lopez.

He formed “The Pharaohs” in 1961 in Dallas. The other members were Carl Medke, Russell Fowler, Omar “Big Man” Lopez and Vincent Lopez (not related to Omar). In 1962 the group made one record but it did not sell. Tired of playing for $5 per man per night, The Pharaohs disbanded in late 1962.

In May, 1963, Vincent Lopez was playing for a band named “Andy and The Nightriders” in Louisiana. When their organist quit, Sam joined the group as the new organist. “Andy and The Nightriders” was composed of Andy Anderson, David A. Martin, Vincent Lopez and Sam. “The Nightriders” became very popular as the house band at The Congo Club. It was here that Sam became the “The Sham” in a dual reference to the fact that the band’s name was “Andy and The Nightriders” and Andy Anderson was the leader but everyone came to hear Sam sing and the fact that Sam couldn’t really play the organ – he could only play chords.

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