A Bit Like You And Me Radio

April 12, 2013

Cannibal & the Headhunters - Land of 1000 Dances (1965)

Founded in 1963, this East Los Angeles, California group was one of the first Mexican-American groups in the United States to have a hit record (heard below). Originally known as Bobby and the Classics, the band was formed by Richard “Scar” Lopez and Robert “Rabbit” Jaramillo. According to an interview with Lopez, everyone in East L.A. had nicknames. Eventually joining the group were Robert’s brother, Joe “Yo Yo” Jaramillo and Frankie “Cannibal” Garcia. Frankie had been given his nickname by the neighborhood after having been in a few neighborhood fights and biting his opponent. He was actually known by friends as “Little Cannibal,” whereas his older brother was “Big Cannibal.” After Garcia joined the band, they began to call themselves Cannibal and the Headhunters. 1965 saw the band release their one and only hit, heard below, which led to the band opening for The Beatles on their 1965 (last ever) tour that ended at Shea Stadium. Although the band had an opportunity to tour Europe with Motown Records, they chose to tour with the fab four and spent quite a lot of time with them on the plane. By 1967, with no other hits to their name, the band called it quits. “Cannibal” Garcia, who happened to be a homosexual, died of AIDS in 1996 at the age of 49. “Yo Yo” Jaramillio passed away in 2000 after his liver shutdown from a lifetime of too much drinking. Most, “Scar” Lopez passed away on July 30, 2010 from lung cancer.

Written by Chris Kenner, this song was first released by Kenner himself in 1962 as a slow blues song. To bring the song into the spotlight, Fats Domino was approached to record the song in 1963; and, he agreed under the stipulation that he would be given half of the writing credits (he didn’t actually write any of it). The song didn’t really take off, though, until the band above decided to record it in 1965. Lead singer Cannibal forgot some of the words and the very catchy “na, na na na na…” hook was inserted in their place. The version heard below was then covered in 1966 by Wilson Pickett, who decided to fashion his version of the song on Cannibal’s. Pickett’s version became the most successful version of the song, reaching number one on the R&B charts and number six on the pop charts. The version heard below reached number thirty in early 1965.

album art

Cannibal & the Headhunters - Land of 1000 Dances (1965)

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Lyrics:

I said, “Na, na na na na, na na na na, na na na, na na na”
“Na na na na”

You gotta know how to Pony
Like Bony Moronie
You gotta know how to Twist
I said, “It goes like this”

I said, “Mashed Potato”
Do The Alligator
I said, “Billy, get your yo-yo”
Come on and let's go

And then clap your hands
(Come on)
Just clap your hands
(Come on)
And then move your feet
(Come on)
Get into that beat
(Come on)

I said, “Na, na na na na, na na na na, na na na, na na na”
“Na na na na”

Everybody, come on now
(Na, na na na na, na na na na, na na na, na na na)
(Na na na na)

Yes, and one more time
(Na, na na na na, na na na na, na na na, na na na)
(Na na na na)

You gotta know how to Jerk
(Oh, yeah)
Come on, baby, work
You gotta know how to Jangle
Make you do The Tango

I said, “Do The Watusi”
Come on and do The Watusi

I said, “Goodbye Lucy”
I said, “Goodbye child”
I said, “Wa-Watusi”…

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