The Purple People Eater

“The Purple People Eater” tells how a strange creature descends to Earth because it wants to be in a rock ‘n’ roll band. The creature is described as a “one-eyed, one-horned, flying, purple people eater”

The song was written and performed by Sheb Wooley and is classified as a novelty song.  The premise of the song originated from a joke told by the child of one of

One version of a one horned one eyed purple people eater
One version of a one horned one eyed purple people eater

Wooley’s friends.

Apparently the joke hit a chord, because Wooley composed the song within an hour.

Many think that the creature is purple, but he actually is described in the song as eating purple people.

I said Mr Purple People Eater, what’s your line?
He said eating purple people, and it sure is fine
But that’s not the reason that I came to land
I wanna get a job in a rock ‘n roll band.

 

Purple People Eater
Purple People Eater

The song was released in June 1958 and reached #1 on the Billboard Pop Charts and #12 on the UK singles chart from June 9-July 14 that year.

The song was so ambiguous that it prompted listeners to draw pictures of the “people eater” and most of the pictures showed him to be purple.

As with the Chipmunk Song, which was released later that same year, the People Eater’s voice is sped up to provide the texture and timbre we’re familiar with today.

In addition to Wooley’s rendition, Judy Garland recorded the song in 1958 and Jimmy Buffett recorded a version of the song for the 1997 film Contact.

The Hagen-Renaker ceramics company of California created a figurine of the Purple People Eater as part of its 1958–59 “Little Horribles” line. As mentioned above, the design takes its cue from a misinterpretation of the lyrics, coloring the creature purple. The figure was a best seller.

In 1988, a movie was made based on the song, which was called Purple People Eater.

Have you ever seen a one eyed purple people eater?

 

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