Category: comedy

Tim Curry on set of The Rocky Horror Picture S…

Tim Curry on set of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Photos by John Jay

On this day in music history: April 28, 1958 -…

On this day in music history: April 28, 1958 – “Witch Doctor” by David Seville hits #1 on the Billboard Best Sellers chart for 2 weeks. Written and produced by Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. (aka David Seville), it is the first chart topping single for the creator of Alvin & The Chipmunks. Seville achieves the trademark sped up “chipmunk” like vocal sound by recording voices with the tape machine running at half-speed while recording, then playing it back at normal speed. Prior to his own success as a recording artist, his biggest success as a songwriter comes when he pens Rosemary Clooney’s hit “Come On-A My House” in 1951. Released as a single in early April of 1958, the novelty song is an immediate hit. Entering the Billboard Best Sellers chart at #36 on April 14, 1958, it leaps to the top of the chart two weeks later. “Witch Doctor” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 26, 1983 -…

On this day in music history: April 26, 1983 – “Weird Al Yankovic”, the debut album by “Weird Al” Yankovic is released. Produced by “Weird Al” Yankovic and Rick Derringer, it is recorded at The Men’s Room at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA , KMET-FM in Los Angeles, and Cherokee Studios in Hollywood, CA from Mid 1979, 1980 – 81, and Early 1982. After releasing several stand alone singles both independently and for record labels such as Capitol and TK Records, “Weird Al” Yankovic is signed to the Scotti Brothers label Rock ‘N Roll Records (then distributed by CBS Records’ Epic subsidiary) in 1982. The first album by the comedy parody artist includes his first two singles “My Bologna” (re-recorded version appears on the album) and “Another One Rides The Bus” as well as parodies of songs by Toni Basil, Joan Jett and Tom Petty. “Weird Al Yankovic” peaks at number one hundred thirty nine on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 24, 1976 -…

On this day in music history: April 24, 1976 – In a spoof of the numerous financial offers that The Beatles have received to reunite, Saturday Night Live creator and producer Lorne Michaels offers the band a check for $3,000 to play on the show. Ironically on that very evening, Paul McCartney is visiting John Lennon at his apartment at The Dakota in New York City and are watching the live broadcast. The two nearly decide to jump into a taxi and go over to the studio at 30 Rockefeller Plaza to take up Michaels on his offer. But they decide they’re too tired and stay in instead. On November 20, 1976, George Harrison appears on SNL as a musical guest that week (with host Paul Simon). In a taped segment with Lorne Michaels, Harrison will try to collect the $3,000 check on behalf of the group. When Michaels offers only George’s share of the money ($750), Harrison calls the producer “chintzy” before Michaels offers him another $250 to say the show’s opening tag line “Live From New York, It’s Saturday Night!”.

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Actor, writer and producer Bob Einstein (bor…

Actor, writer and producer Bob Einstein (born Stewart Robert Einstein in Los Angeles, CA) – November 20, 1942 – January 2, 2019, RIP

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, is 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.

On this day in music history: December 18, 197…

On this day in music history: December 18, 1970 – “The Beatles Christmas Album” by The Beatles is released. Produced by Tony Barrow, George Martin and Kenny Everett (aka Maurice Cole), it is recorded at Dick James Music, Abbey Road Studios in London and various other locations from October 17, 1963 – November 1969. The album is a special compilation released exclusively to members of the band’s fan club in the UK (titled “From Then To You” there) and the US only, following the bands’ break up earlier in the year. It features the seven Christmas messages recorded by The Beatles between 1963 and 1969 originally released on plastic flexi-discs. The holiday messages consisting of holiday greetings from the band also with skits and original songs, were recorded as a thank you gift to fans and as a response to the enormous volume of fan mail they receive. The album receives only limited, non commercial distribution, with original copies becoming highly valuable collector’s items. Due to its lack of a wide release, it has been widely bootlegged in its entirety and individually over the years. Legitimate copies feature a smaller mould ring on the LP labels, where as the bootlegs have a much wider mould ring in the center. The real US LP’s also feature a machine stamp from “Bell Sound” studios in New York as well as the initials “sf” for mastering engineer Sam Feldman, and the “rifle” etching from Capitol Records’ Winchester, VA pressing plant. The LP jackets on real copies have crisp detailing in the photos, with the fakes having blurring on certain images. On December 15, 2017, Apple Corps reissues the seven Christmas fan club messages as “Happy Christmas Beatle People! (The Christmas Records)”. The set packaged in 7 ½" x 7 ½" box, contains the seven 7" discs pressed on colored vinyl, reproducing the original sleeve artwork and labels from the UK singles, also including a booklet.

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

On this day in music history: November 22, 1952 – “It’s In The Book Parts 1 & 2” by Johnny Standley hits #1 on the Billboard Best Sellers chart for 2 weeks. Written by Johnny Standley and Art Thorsen, it is the biggest hit for the actor, comedian and musician from Milwaukee, WI. Born in December of 1912 in Milwaukee, WI and raised in Oklahoma City, OK, Johnny Standley is born into a show business family, having performed from childhood with his parents at tent show revivals as “The Standley Players”. During WWII, Standley serves in the army and performs for troops in the USO along side comedian Red Skelton and bandleader Horace Heidt, further spreading his reputation as a comedian. After the war, he continues working with Heidt as a featured performer on “The Horace Heidt Youth Opportunity Program” on NBC. The show moves from radio to television in 1950, heightening Standley’s public profile even more. It is on Heidt’s show that Johnny Standley records what becomes his debut record and biggest hit “It’s In The Book”. The live recorded monologue is a humorous and dramatic retelling of the classic nursery rhyme “Little Bo-Peep”. The six minute long track is split into two parts for single release by Capitol Records in September of 1952. Part one of the single consists of the spoken monologue by Standley, with part two featuring him leading the audience in a sing a long of the traditional camp fire song “Grandma’s Lye Soap”. It is the only spoken word comedy recording to top the Billboard singles charts, and is the first live recording to hit number one on the pop singles chart before  Stevie Wonder’s “Fingertips Pt. 2” in August of 1963. “It’s In The Book” sells over two million copies in the US, becoming one of the biggest selling singles for Capitol Records. Years later, the record is heard in director Peter Bogdanovich’s film “The Last Picture Show” in 1971. “It’s In The Book Parts 1 & 2” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: October 21, 1986…

On this day in music history: October 21, 1986 – “Polka Party!”, the fourth album by “Weird Al” Yankovic is released. Produced by Rick Derringer, it is recorded at Cherokee Studios in Hollywood, CA from April – September 1986. Like his previous albums, it features parody versions of recent pop hits including ones by James Brown, Robert Palmer and the title track which is a medley of twelve songs strung together and compressed into just over three minutes. In spite of not being as well received as his previous releases (it is one of the few albums by Al not to be certified Gold or Platinum in the US), it is nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Recording. The original vinyl LP release has the messages “Polka ‘Til You Puke” etched into the run out groove of side A and “Where’s My Liquid Paper?” etched in the runout of side B. Issued on CD by CBS Records at the time of its original release, the album is reissued on CD in 1990, after Scotti Bros. Records switches distribution from Sony Music to WEA Distribution. It is reissued again by Volcano Records in 1999. “Polka Party” peaks at number one hundred seventy seven on the Billboard Top 200.

On this day in music history: October 20, 1962…

On this day in music history: October 20, 1962 – “Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Bobby Pickett and Leonard Capizzi, it is the biggest hit for the singer and songwriter from Somerville, MA. The novelty classic is recorded in the garage studio of producer/label owner Gary S. Paxton, and also features musician Leon Russell on piano. The record is rejected by several labels before Paxton works out a distribution deal with London Records and releases it on his own Garpax label. “Monster Mash” is an immediate hit upon its release. Entering the Hot 100 at #72 on September 8, 1962, it rockets to the top of the chart just six weeks later. On its initial release in the UK, the BBC bans the record from radio and television airplay for being “too morbid”. The ban is lifted in that country when the single is reissued in 1973. “Mash” becomes a belated smash peaking at #3 on the UK singles chart. “Monster Mash” makes chart history as the only single to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 three separate times. After its first run in 1962, it peaks at #91 in September of 1970. The single actually makes the top ten a second time, peaking at #10 in August of 1973. “Monster Mash” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.