Novelty Christmas — ‘The Chipmunk Song’ Story [VIDEO]
I was just a kid when the Christmas novelty song, "The Chipmunk Song" was released and, of course, I couldn't get enough of it. My little 8 year-old brain thought it was the funniest thing I ever heard. Looking back, I can see why may parents didn't buy me a copy of the record, but every time it came on, I merrily sang along at the top of my lungs.
Who knew that that song would live forever? For that matter, who knew the phenomenon would also still be around in the year 2015? The Chipmunks are still around and the franchise is still raking in money today. It's hard to believe that, the original idea for the Chipmunks came from a man who spent his last $200 on a variable speed tape recorder.
Ross Bagdasarian was an actor and even appeared on Broadway before the Chipmunks made him rich. He had an idea for a novelty record and went out and spent $190 of his last $200 dollars on a tape recorder and voila, it worked.
Bagdasarian's first release was a novelty tune called "Witch Doctor" released under the name of David Seville. In April of 1958, the song went to #1 on the Billboard charts. He followed that up with a minor hit called, "Bird on my Head", but it was in December of that year that the phenomenon really hit with the release of "The Chipmunk Song."
Bagdasarian hit gold with the novelty idea and it was off to the races. "The Chipmunk Song" was followed by "Alvin's harmonica" which got to #3 and was another million seller.
The Chipmunks, Alvin, Simon and Theodore were all named after executives at Liberty Records, by the way.
On the early records, Bagdasarian, by then much better known by his stage name of David Seville, sang all the parts. he simply sang each line very slowly, then when the tape was played back at the right speed, we had the Chipmunks singing in perfect three part harmony.
The Chipmunks are now voiced by professional singers, but Ross Bagdasarian Jr. now handles the furry trio.