Napoleon XIV

Singer, songwriter, producer, and talent agent Jerrold Samuels – born on May 3, 1938, in Manhattan, New York – was best-known by his hit novelty single “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!” recorded under the stage name of Napoleon XIV. Raised in the Bronx, he learned to play the piano and began writing music when he was young. He began his professional music career when he released the single “Puppy Love” in 1958. He continued working in the music business and wrote songs for other artists including Adam Wade’s Top 10 hit single “As If I Didn’t Know” and Sammy Davis, Jr.’s “The Shelter of Your Arms,” which landed in the Top 20 in 1964. Jerrold Samuels wrote and recorded a novelty song called “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!” and released it in 1966 under the pseudonym Napoleon XIV. The single was an enormous hit and reached the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at Number 3. The single’s success led to the release of the album They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa! and the non-album single “I’m In Love with My Little Red Tricycle.” Unfortunately, Napoleon XIV never scored another hit and he quietly faded into obscurity. His one hit single remained a longtime favorite and was given a new lease on life thanks to radio DJ Dr. Demento, who would often play it on his show. The single was reissued a few times and his first album was reissued in 1985. Ten years later, Rhino Records issued a compilation entitled The Second Coming, which featured old classics, rarities, and new recordings from 1995. Jerrold Samuels – aka Napoleon XIV – died of Parkinson’s disease on March 10, 2023, at the age of 84.

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