Theodore! ... Simon! ... ALVIN!!!!
The Chipmunks were an animated novelty musical act created during the late 1950s by singer, songwriter, pianist, musician, actor, and producer Ross Bagdasarian Sr. (January 27, 1919 - January 16, 1972), otherwise known by his stage name, David Seville. The voices for Theodore, Simon, and Alvin were all performed by Bagdasarian who sped up the playback on a tape machine to create their signature high-pitched nasal timbres. The singing trio was managed by their human adoptive father, David (Dave) Seville, who all appeared in cartoon form. The first TV series to feature these animated characters was "The Alvin Show" which aired on CBS from 1961-1962.
The Chipmunks debuted on the Pop/Rock charts in 1958 with "The Chipmunk Song" (a.k.a. "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)"), a perennial holiday classic which reached #1 and earned Bagdasarian three Grammys for Best Comedy Performance, Best Recording for Children, and Best Album Created for Children. This smash was followed by a long string of hits that also included "Alvin's Harmonica" (1959), "Ragtime Cowboy Joe" (1959), "Alvin's Orchestra" (1960), "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer" (1960), "The Alvin Twist" (1962), and their squeaky cover of The Beatles' "All My Loving" (1964). Years later, The Chipmunks had another hit in 1980 with their cover of Billy Joel's "You May Be Right," with voices provided by Ross Bagdasarian Jr. as part of the album, "Chipmunk Punk."
Prior to The Chipmunks, Bagdasarian had appeared in several movies and debuted on the charts with "The Trouble With Harry" (1956, as Alfi & Harry). As David Seville, he topped both the R&B and Pop/Rock charts in 1958 with "Witch Doctor" and had several other hits that included "Armen's Theme" (1956) and "The Bird On My Head" (1958). Bagdasarian also co-wrote the pop standard, "Come On-a My House," with his cousin, the Pulitzer Prize winning author, William Saroyan.
- The New York Times remembers Ross Bagdasarian.
- For more info on Alvin & The Chipmunks, both past and present, visit chipmunks.com.
- Ross Bagdasarian Jr. discusses his late father's career and his continuation of Alvin & The Chipmunks in an interview with NPR (September 18, 2017).
To listen to a song clip, click any song title that has a speaker icon. This will take you to a list of links to CD and/or MP3 product pages from one or more online merchants that have sound samples.
- The Alvin Twist 1962
- Alvin's Orchestra 1960
- The Chipmunk Song 1958
(This song first topped the charts in 1958 and became a perennial favorite thereafter for many years.)
- Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer 1960
(This song recharted for the Chipmunks in 1961 and also became a hit for Gene Autry (1957) and the Melodeers (1960).)
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