This song's history on Top-40 radio was kind of surreal back then. There were multiple versions of it all within just a few years. The first couple did not have the oooga chaggas - first by the wonderfully named BJ Thomas - and were modest hits. Then someone re-recorded it (again, this is all happening in the space of 5-6 years) and added the completely incongruous ooga-chaggas. Which led to yet another cover, this time finally the famous Blue Suede one that went to Number one. Plus Top-40 radio has always been such an Of-the-Moment institution that DJs rarely acknowledged the past. So every new version was more or less treated as brand new. Here's new song by Blue Suede. And everyone was like, isn't that the BJ guy's song, but with ooga-chaggas added? Ooga-chaggas? How come nobody talks about that? Can you do that? Can you just re-record a song note for note, add some bizarre chant in random parts, and put it on the radio?
And there was no Wikipedia to go look this stuff up so you kind of questioned your sanity.
The 70s were a bizarre and honestly unpleasant time to be a child. I can only imagine what it seems like to those who came afterwards. I mean my family and personal life was fine, great actually. I'm quite lucky that way. But the overall cultural atmosphere was crap. Sure you can pick out gems and make a great soundtrack but there was way too much weirdness for the sake of being weird (which is kind of unsettling to kids) and even more junk that aspired to weird but just failed. This is one of my fonder cultural memories, because it succeeded in generating that weird vibe while actually being good in its own right.
Just to put things in present day terms, imagine if some modest mid chart song by a sort of nobody slightly famous singer like this guy was recorded and released 3 more times in 5-6 years by different artists. Then the 3rd of the 4 releases adds ooga-chaggas, and the 4th, again with ooga-chaggas, becomes a massive hit song-of-the-summer type hit.
I can't make the image show up for some reason, but this guy