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Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Jerry Samuels born 3 May 1938

Jerry Samuels (born Jerrold Samuels on May 3, 1938), known by the stage name Napoleon XIV, is an American singer, songwriter and record producer. He achieved one-hit wonder status with the Top 5 hit novelty song "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" in 1966.
Jerry started writing songs when he was 16 years old. He was born on 3 May 1938 in Brooklyn, New York. The first song published with his name in the composer credits was called To Ev'ry Girl To Ev'ry Boy (The Meaning Of Love) by Johnnie Ray on Columbia 40252 in 1954. He actually wrote this song with Sol Parker, even though it's credited to B. Parker. The same thing happened on Jerry's second published song, The Only Girl I'll Ever Love by Johnnie Ray on Columbia 40324 in 1955. The first song written solely by Jerry Samuels was So Rich And Yet So Very Poor by Tommy Mara on RKO Unique 377 in 1956.
Also in 1956, Jerry started recording his own records. His first was Puppy Love by Jerry Samuels on Vik 0197. Jerry also recorded a Break-In novelty record called The Trial under the name Jerry Field And The Lawyers on Parkway 801 in 1958. In 1959, he recorded Dancing Partners using the name Jerry Simms on RCA 7483: He used that same name on Treasure Supreme on Dual 501 in 1961. Under the name Scott David (his son's name), he co-wrote "As If I Didn't Know" with Larry Kusik, a top 10 hit for Adam Wade in 1961.
The biggest hit he wrote, but did not sing, came in 1964 with The Shelter Of Your Arms by Sammy Davis Junior, which peaked at #17 on Billboard's Hot 100.

In 1966, Samuels concocted "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" while working at Associated Recording Studios in New York. The public found out his true identity when Cousin Brucie of WABC outed him. The record quickly climbed the charts, reaching the Top Ten nationally in just its fourth week on the Billboard Hot 100. It peaked at #3 and sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.
This also has the distinction of being the song to drop the furthest within the Top 40 in a single week. It charted for five weeks during 1966; in week 3 it peaked at #3, it scored #5 in week 4, and fell to #37 in week 5. This was because radio programmers removed the song from their playlists, fearing an adverse reaction from people who might consider the song to be ridiculing the mentally ill. This occurred most notably in the New York market, where both the New York Top 40 music radio stations of the time, WABC and WMCA, banned broadcasting of the song. (WABC continued to include the song on its local Top 20 list despite no longer broadcasting it.)
Critic Dave Marsh calls the song “the most obnoxious song ever to appear in a jukebox” in his book The Book of Rock Lists. Marsh claims the song once “cleared a diner of 40 patrons in 3 minutes flat”.
The success of the single inspired a Warner Bros. album of the same name in 1966 (reissued by Rhino in 1985), most of which continued with the mental illness theme (for example: "Bats In My Belfry" and "Split Level Head" which features different vocal parts in each stereo speaker). A second single of two recordings from that album was relatively unnoticed.
He made one more novelty record in 1973 as Jerry Samuels again with I Owe A Lot To Iowa Pot b/w Who Are You To Tell Me Not To Smoke Marijuana on J.E.P. 1175.

Currently, Samuels works as a singer and runs a talent agency which books various performers. He has been working the Delaware Valley area since 1984. (Info edited from the Music Master Oldies blog & Wikipedia)

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