Halloween Music History #2 (2015)

HALLOWEEN SONG #2:
“PURPLE PEOPLE EATER”
SHEB WOOLEY, 1958


He was seen a lot on the TV western “Rawhide.” He was the bad guy in the Gary Cooper movie, “High Noon,” as well as a few “Lone Ranger” shows, too. He had a mean look, but in reality, he was a very friendly and delightful man.
 
I interviewed Sheb Wooley in 1991 before the Dr. Demento 20th anniversary TV show special in Pasadena in 1991. That interview would be used at Halloween time on “American Top 40” to tell the story of  the #2 Halloween song of all time…
 
The key to Sheb’s biggest hit was simple. His son came home from school one day and asked him, “Dad, what has one eye, one horn, flies, is purple and eats people?” 
 
“I don’t know, son.”
 
“Why, it’s a one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eater.”
 
Also the  #20 summer song of all time, “The Purple People Eater” was recorded almost as an afterthought….and it took off practically overnight. It debuted at #7 and the following week went to #1. It became the fastest climbing rock era #1 song and it took six years for a song to equal the chart feat. The Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love” also only took two weeks to go to #1. The two songs shared the record for over 30 years, or until “You Are Not Alone” by Michael Jackson debuted at #1 in 1995.
 
To this day, “Purple People Eater” ranks as the most successful novelty chart single ever with six weeks at #1. It was helped by 1958 being a good year for novelty hits. David Seville set the pace with “Bird On My Head,” “Witch Doctor” and “The Chipmonk Song.”
 
 Other notable novelty hits of 1958 include “Dinner With Drac” by John Zacherle and “The Little Blue Man” by Betty Johnson.
 
Sheb Wooley was hardly a one-hit wonder. On the country chart, he had 13 hits, including this hilarious zany #1 hit in 1962
 
 
Sheb Wooley died in 2003. He was 82.
 
 

Preview YouTube video Sheb Wooley That’s My Pa

 NEXT TOMORROW AT #1:
FOUR LABELS TURNED IT DOWN
ELVIS CALLED IT “THE STUPIDEST THING I’VE EVER HEARD”
AND THE BBC BANNED IT

 

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