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"The Sheik of Araby" is a song that was written in 1921 by Harry B. Smith and Francis Wheeler, with music by Ted Snyder. It was composed in response to the popularity of the Rudolph Valentino feature film The Sheik. In 1926, to go with the film The Son of the Sheik, Ted Snyder worked parts of the melody into "That Night in Araby", a related song with words by Billy Rose.

"The Sheik of Araby"
Sheik of Araby.pdf
Sheet music
Songwriter(s)Composer: Ted Snyder
Lyricist: Harry B. Smith, Francis Wheeler

"The Sheik of Araby" was a Tin Pan Alley hit, and was also adopted by early jazz bands, especially in New Orleans, making it a jazz standard. It was a well recognized part of popular culture. A verse also appears in the novel The Great Gatsby (1925) by F. Scott Fitzgerald. In 1926, Fleischer Studios released a cartoon with this song, recorded in Phonofilm, as part of their Song Car-Tunes series, and a live action short with this title was filmed in Phonofilm in the UK, directed by Miles Mander.

The "Araby" in the title refers to Arabia or the Arabian Peninsula. The appeal to New Orleans bands may have lain in "Araby" sharing the same pronunciation as Arabi, Louisiana, a town downriver from New Orleans' 9th Ward and a center for gambling just outside city limits until the early 1950s.[citation needed]

The song was most famously featured in Heaven Can Wait (1943) and in Valentino (1977) with words of parody by Ken Russell, performed by Chris Ellis.

Jean Shepherd frequently sang along with, spoke over, or played kazoo and Jew's harp to the song as one of his many musical interludes during his WOR radio show days.

Notable recordingsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The Sheik [Of Araby] • Club Royal Orchestra (Victrola Credenza)". YouTube. Retrieved 2019-05-10.
  2. ^ "The Sheik Of Araby - The California Ramblers (Vocalion)1921". YouTube. Retrieved 2019-05-10.
  3. ^ "The Sheik of Araby - Zez Confrey Piano Roll". YouTube. Retrieved 2019-05-10.
  4. ^ "Guido Gialdini whistling 'THE SHEIK' on Vox (1923)". YouTube. Retrieved 2011-01-18.
  5. ^ "Don Albert & His Orchestra, "The Sheik of Araby (With No Pants On)"". Retrieved 2019-03-08.
  6. ^ bonus track, The Everly Brothers, Both Sides of an Evening/Instant Party, Warner Bros., Records Inc., 2001.
  7. ^ "The Sheik of Araby".