The Tammys

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Girl Group Goddesses of the Mystical Egyptian Shumba

The Tammy’s are best known for their classic 1960’s girl group song “Egyptian Shumba”.  Forty years after its release, the single was included in the Rhino Records box set “One Kiss Can Lead To Another: Girl Group Sounds, Lost and Found” that was nominated for two Grammy awards in 2005.  Wayne Bledsoe of the Knoxville News-Sentinel called “Egyptian Shumba” “insane” and “filled with yelps and whoops that are nearly orgasmic.”  Seattle Weekly’s Keith Harris” wrote that the song is “the real prize” on the box set describing it as “a goofball dance track about boogying along the Nile”. Pitchfork Magazine ranks “Egyptian Shumba” at 177 in its list of the top 200 songs of the 1960’s.

The Tammys are Linda Jones and sisters Margaret and Catherine Owens from Oil City, Pa.  The Owens sisters first sang in a group called The Impressions during their high school years.  In 1961 the sisters met singer Lou Christie and sang with him driving around in his Cadillac after a Marcy Jo/Lugee and the Lions show at the Moose Lodge in Franklin, Pa.  Christie promised to call them if he ever got discovered.   With Linda Jones they formed the Charnelles performing for the first time in 1962 at a school talent show.  After Christie had his first hit single “The Gypsy Cried” in 1962 he hired the Tammys to sing backup in New York City on several of his recordings.  Christie’s sister Amy Sacco became their manager. Twyla Herbert and Lou Christie wrote several songs for the Tammys. Lou introduced the Tammys to his manager Lou Gold who landed them a record contract.

The Tammys signed with United Artists Records in 1963 and recorded four songs.  Their first UA single “Take Back Your Ring” was recorded on July 1963 in New York City.  Lou Christie and his song writing partner Twyla Herbert wrote the “Egyptian Shumba” song for the Tammys that was released on United Artists in November 1963. They recorded “Gypsy” on the Veep label in 1964.  Their singles all had strong airplay and sold well in Pittsburgh, Erie, and Cleveland, but did not chart nationally.  "Egyptian Shumba" was a Top 15 hit in Pittsburgh and a Top 30 tune in Cleveland.  The Tammys appeared several times on the Clark Race "Dance Party" show on KDKA TV.  They also performed at shows through Western Pennsylvania backing Lou Christie. They headlined their own shows in Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York backed by the Johnny Jack Quintet. 

The Tammys recorded with Lou Christie in June 1964 on his single "Guitars And Bongos" / "Merry-Go-Round" released on Colpix.  It reached #123 on Billboard.  In October 1964, Lou Christie and The Tammys cut "Have I Sinned" / "Pot Of Gold". The Tammys also recorded "Make Summer Last Forever" and "Back Track" with Christie.  Lou recording career was interrupted when he was drafted into the army in 1964.  The Tammys recorded background tracks for other artists and continued perform locally until 1965. They broke up when Cathie Owens married in August 1965.  After his two year stint in the Army Lou Christie hired The Angels of "My Boyfriend's Back" fame as his back-up singers.   

Northern Soul record Collectors in the U.K. rediscovered "Egyptian Shumba" in the 1970s and it became a Euro dance hit.  All of The Tammys' singles plus two unreleased tracks and their recordings with Lou Christie were reissued on the 22 track CD “Egyptian Shumba - The Singles and Rare Recordings: 1962-1964" in 2002.

The Egyptian Shumba

The Tammys with Lou Christie