As the latest Chipmunks movie opens up this week, we remember how it all got started, with the Grammy-winning 1958 song, “Christmas Don’t Be Late:”
The singing chipmunks were created by songwriter Ross Bagdasarian, who had appeared in the Alfred Hitchcock movie, “Rear Window” (as the piano player across the courtyard, playing one of his own compositions) and had some success as the co-writer of the Rosemary Clooney hit, “Come On-a My House” and writer/performer of the novelty song, “The Witch Doctor.” He came up with the idea of recording songs at high speeds to make the voices sound amusingly squeaky. The 1958 song “Christmas Don’t Be Late” was his first chipmunks recording and he played Dave and did all the voices, naming the three chipmunks after record executives. Later recordings used women’s voices. His son, Ross Bagdasarian Jr., is now responsible for bringing Alvin, Simon, Theodore and their long-suffering manager Dave to a new generation.