“Wooly Bully” is a popular song originally recorded by novelty rock ‘n’ roll band Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs in 1965. Based on a standard 12-bar blues progression, it was written by the band’s leader, Domingo “Sam” Samudio. It was released as a single on the Memphis-based Pen label and distributed via MGM. The song was recorded at Sam Phillips Recording studios at 639 Madison Avenue in Memphis, the successor to Phillips’ original Sun Studios. It proved to be the only recording made at the studio to achieve national success.
“Wooly Bully” was the band’s first and biggest hit. It became a worldwide sensation, selling three million copies and reaching No. 2 on the American Hot 100 chart on June 5–12, 1965, kept off the top by The Beach Boys‘ “Help Me, Rhonda“ and The Supremes‘ “Back in My Arms Again“. It was the first American record to sell a million copies during the British Invasion and was influenced by the British rock sound which was mixed with traditional Mexican-American conjunto rhythms. It stayed in the Hot 100 for a then-impressive 18 weeks, in fact the most weeks for any entry within that calendar year, and was nominated for a Grammy Award. It was also named Billboard‘s “Number One Record of the Year” despite never reaching No. 1 on a weekly Hot 100; this feat was achieved again by Faith Hill‘s “Breathe” in 2000 and Lifehouse‘s “Hanging by a Moment” in 2001.