1965 Cannibal and the Headhunters – Land Of 1000 Dances

1965 Cannibal and the Headhunters – Land Of 1000 Dances 

Chris Kenner was a singer/songwriter who began recording music in the New Orleans area in 1955. Like many other musicians in the New Orleans area, Chris began working with pianist/arranger Allen Toussaint. The pair wrote I Like It Like That and Chris reached #2 on the Hot 100 in 1961 with his single.

It was difficult for Chris to follow up on that success. In 1963, he wrote and recorded Land Of 1000 Dances. His single stalled at #77 on the Hot 100.

Unlike all the versions of the song that followed, only the album version of the song by Chris included the words “Land of 1000 Dances” in the lyrics. Even his single had the first twenty seconds of the recording cut off.

Four Mexican-American singers from East Los Angeles began singing together as Cannibal and the Headhunters. Frankie Garcia used the moniker “Cannibal” and was joined by backup singers Bobby Jaramillo, Joe Jaramillo, and Richard Lopez. While they included some spoken words similar to those at the start of Chris’ version, they did not use the title of the song in their recording. Instead, the group added na-na-na-na-na to the front of the song. 

The single version again omitted the spoken words from the beginning of their album version.

The group’s record peaked at #30 on the Hot 100 in 1965. They performed as a warm-up act at a Rolling Stones concert in May 1965 in Birmingham, Alabama. Paul McCartney then surprised the group by requesting they join the Beatles on their US tour at shows at Shea Stadium in August.

Even with those performances behind them, the group never reached the charts again. 

By 1967, Frankie had replaced the backup singers with new group members. Robert Zapata joined the group in 1969, and in 1988 he took over as the new Cannibal when Frankie left.

The most successful version of Land of 1000 Dances came from Wilson Pickett. He had just begun recording at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals. His single from those sessions topped the R&B chart and reached #6 on the Hot 100 in 1966.


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