The Phono Project

Exploring the history of the groove

“The Purple People Eater” by Sheb Wooley

In 1958 Sheb Wooley released the song “The Purple People Eater”. “The Purple People Eater”  is one of his early & most noteworthy releases. The novelty song is one of the few cases where a comedy track has topped the charts at number 1. This was Wooley’s only Hot 100 hit.

The track also has appeared in its very own Disney film of the same name, where a young boy plays the song and accidentally summons the purple people eater. The song also appeared on the soundtrack for films like Parents (1989), Contact (1997), & Monsters vs Aliens (2009). 

The inspiration for the track came from a joke told by the child of one of Wooleys friends. The monster eats purple people, but the song doesn’t say whether or not the creature is purple itself. The purple people eaters voice is a sped up recording and has been compared to Mike Sammes 1957 “Pinky & Perky” as well as “The Chipmunk Song” which was released in 1958 as well by Alvin & the Chipmunks. Who later went on to do a cover of the novelty track for their 1998 album that was titled “The A-Files: Alien Songs”.  

The song is still relevant today as it’s become a Halloween classic. Not too bad for something that was composed in an hour !

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