Shelby F. Wooley was born in Erick, Oklahoma. An avid rider, Sheb was already competing in local rodeos by the time he turned 10. He loved music, and taught himself how to play on a guitar his father obtained by trading for an old shotgun. He had a band in High School, but music didn’t help his family put food on the table, so he worked as an oil field welder. In his early 20’s Sheb moved to California and worked odd jobs, met Melba Miller (sister of singer Roger Miller) and got married. After almost twenty years of odd jobs, and many unsuccessful attempts to launch a singing career, Sheb got serious about his career and balanced his time between writing songs and taking acting lessons.
He began landing small parts in films which led to a career that saw him appear in over 60 movies, including “High Noon” and “Giant”. He was also successful on the small screen, playing Pete Nolan in the TV series “Rawhide”. He was an original member of “Hee Haw” and wrote the shows theme song.
He also enjoyed many hits as a songwriter, including “Are You Satisfied” which Rusty Draper and others recorded. In 1958, he had to fight a very conservative M-G-M record label to release his #1 signature song, “Purple People Eater”. In the spirit of Homer and Jethro, Sheb actually enjoyed more success as his recording “alter ego” Ben Colder.
Sheb’s motto for success? “I believe success comes from three things…dreams, hard work and faith.” Sheb died of Leukemia on September 16, 2003 at the age of 82.
Hear songs by both Sheb and Ben at TUNEDEX MEMORIES!