On this day in music history: December 22, 195…

On this day in music history: December 22, 1958 – “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)” by The Chipmunks & David Seville hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks. Following the chart topping success of the single “Witch Doctor” in April of 1958, David Seville (birth name: Ross Bagdasarian, Sr.), follows it up with his most popular and enduring creation. Seville’s youngest son Adam provides the inspiration for what becomes “The Chipmunk Song”. The idea for the song comes about when the young boy asks his father in September “if it’s Christmas yet?”. Seville takes the idea and runs with it. He creates the characters Alvin, Simon, & Theodore, three cartoon chipmunks who are named after Liberty Records executives Al Bennett and Si Waronker, and recording engineer Ted Keep. Employing the same tape vari-speed technique used on “Witch Doctor”, the vocals on the song are sung by Seville by recording his voice with the tape running at 1/3 normal speed, producing the high pitched “chipmunk like” vocals upon playback. Released right before Thanksgiving in November of 1958, the single is an instant and massive success. Entering the Hot 100 at #62 on December 1, 1958, it pole vaults to the top of the chart three weeks later. At the time of its release, “The Chipmunk Song” becomes one of the fastest selling singles of all time, when it sells over 4.5 million copies in seven weeks. At the first Grammy Awards in 1959, it wins three awards including Best Comedy Recording, Best Engineered Recording and Best Children’s Recording. The record re-charts on the Hot 100 three more times between 1959 and 1962, peaking at #41, #45 and #39 respectively. The huge success of the single spins off several hit albums including “Christmas With The Chipmunks”, released by Liberty Records in 1962. Out of print since the early 80’s, it is reissued on vinyl in 2014 replicating the original foil LP sleeve and Liberty LP labels with The Chipmunks’ faces printed on them. A limited edition release on split red and green vinyl, issued as an exclusive through Newbury Comics in 2016. When interest is revived in Alvin and the Chipmunks in December 2007 with the release of the film “Alvin And The Chipmunks”, the original recording of “The Chipmunk Song” re-enters the Hot 100, peaking at #66. “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.