The Riff
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The Riff

The Story Behind ‘They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!’

Novelty songs first appeared in the late 19th century and were popular on the radio into the 1980s. One of the most successful—and weirdest—was 1966’s “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!” by Napoleon XIV.

Recording engineer Jerry Samuels, then 28, created the politically incorrect hit: a rant by a mental patient who had been dumped by his lover. The track does not include a note of music; a loop of snare drum…

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Frank Mastropolo

“Laugh and the world laughs with you. Prov and you provolone.” — Sicilian proverb