Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

Songs Of The Week: Sham VooDoo does The Beatles

It’s another dip into the Radio Free Charleston archives this week, as we revisit the April 1990 “Beatles For Easter” show, which featured songs about the Fab Four, as well as cover versions of Beatles tunes by international and local artists. For some reason this week, I’ve been desperate to hear good cover versions of Beatles’ tunes. I have another reason for posting these songs this week, since these are in-studio performances by one of my best friends, John “Sham Voodoo” Estep, late of legendary Charleston bands The Defectors and Clownhole. I’ve lost touch with Sham–the last I’d heard he was living in Columbus. If anybody knows how I can contact my old buddy–and the co-host of the Beatles tribute episode of RFC, please let me know by leaving a comment below.

We have two songs this week. One really good one, and one that is tainted by my singing. First, the good one: “Cold Turkey” was John Lennon’s harrowing primal scream epic about withdrawing from heroin. This is performed by Sham solo, with just his fender, recorded live in the Radio Free Charleston studio. Despite my prompting, heard at the end, Sham did not do the primal scream finale of the song.

The other song is unfortunately marred by my attempted singing. This was at Sham’s prompting , and because Stephen Beckner went to sleep instead of coming to the studio at 2 AM to join Sham on the show. This was a medley of Beatle songs, with a few solo tunes added in the mix. I’ve edited out a few gaffes to try and make it more listenable–I would start laughing when one of us forgot the lyrics, and Sham would get the giggles if I accidentally hit the right note, so it had to be tightened up in order not to be completely awful–aside from that, this is largely as it went out over the air, live at 3:45 AM, on RFC. Most of the transitions between songs are exactly as they were on the original show–and they hold up pretty well considering that it was past 3:30 AM, Sham and I had never rehearsed, and I had no idea what song was coming next.

This medley also includes my infamous Reggae rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” This was a staple at the jam nights at the old Charleston Playhouse. “Reggae Imagine” was born out of my suggestion that somebody could have a huge hit if the covered “Imagine” with a light Reggae touch. In the drunken spirit of playfulness that inhabited the Playhouse, this got turned into a full-blown hardcore Reggae version, complete with Rastafarian references and “I and I” talk.

Near the end of this medley, which is really only recommended for the most masochistic of Beatle fans, Gary Price and Tom Medvick of the Swivel Rockers wandered into the studio and can be heard, along with Sue Gaines, joining in at the very end. So if you really want to torture yourself, take a listen to “Stars On RFC“. And again, apologies for my singing.


  1. Beatle masochist

    Wow, that medley is really…long.

  2. Longtime Listener

    Sham Voodoo! Clownhole. The Defectors.

    Man, you’re really making me feel old now. I remember when the Defectors opened for Kiss as the civic center.

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