Before the movies, there was the classic Chipmunks Christmas album that featured “The Chipmunk Song.” Although the version below with puppets does not have the technology of the movies, I still like it best. Perhaps my fondness for the original results from the fact that my family played this song (and the album) every year when I was growing up.
Alvin and the Chipmunks were created by Ross Bagdasarian Sr., who went by the name David Seville as the human foil to the rascally Alvin. Bagdasarian as Seville had a 1958 hit with a novelty song, “Witch Doctor.” That song and his follow-up featured some use of his speeded-up voice.
But in late fall of 1958, he made more use of the speed technique when he released the first Chipmunks song. Bagdasarian reportedly got the idea for chipmunk characters when one of the animals had dashed in front of his car while he was driving in Sequoia National Park. The result, “The Chipmunks Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late),” became a massive hit.
The popularity of the Christmas song led to other Chipmunk songs. The original song first appeared on the album Let’s All Sing with the Chipmunks (1959). It appeared again on the 1962 holiday album, Christmas with the Chipmunks, which is the album we had in our house.
Bagdasarian also wrote the Rosemary Clooney hit “Come on-a My House.” And he appeared in some small movie roles before he created The Chipmunks.
In Rear Window (1954), Bagdasarian portrays a piano-player songwriter who writes the song “Lisa.” In this clip, he plays a piano in a scene that also features director Alfred Hitchcock’s signature cameo.
I cannot remember whether I got a hula-hoop before or after I heard “The Chipmunks Song” the first time. But I suppose kids today might question how the hottest toy at the time was a hoop you threw around your waist. Oh well.
In the video below, Bagdasarian, i.e. David Seville, appears with the Chipmunks on The Ed Sullivan Show. Merry Christmas.
What is your favorite childhood Christmas album? Leave your two cents in the comments.
(Some related Chimesfreedom posts.)