Texan quintet Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs had a regional hit in 1965 with a track called Haunted House.
It caught the ear of Stan Kesler, who had been a Sun Records house musician and songwriter, and he offered to record a single with the band.
In the studio, he asked the group if they had a song they wanted to record since they didn’t like any of the ones he suggested.
The band had a rhythm and a sound they wanted to use, but no lyrics, so Sam (who was born Domingo Samudio) made up the words on the spot. There were three takes of Wooly Bully with three completely different sets of lyrics, and Kesler kept the third.
The song was turned down by virtually every major label, so the band released it independently. After it became a hit locally, MGM Records picked it up and it became a national smash, reaching #2 on the US charts.
Sam went on to become a reverend, helping to rehabilitate drug addicts and prison inmates.
Sam (Domingo Samudio)