The Chipmunks

Formed 1958.

Biography

Alvin and the Chipmunks is an American animated music group created by Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. for a novelty record in 1958. The group consists of three singing animated anthropomorphic chipmunks: Alvin, the mischievous troublemaker, who quickly became the star of the group; Simon, the tall, bespectacled intellectual; and Theodore, the chubby, impressionable one. The trio is managed by their human adoptive father, David (Dave) Seville. In reality, "David Seville" was Bagdasarian's stage name, and the Chipmunks themselves are named after the executives of their original record label. The characters became a success, and the singing Chipmunks and their manager were given life in several animated cartoon productions, using redrawn, anthropomorphic chipmunks, and eventually films.

The voices of the group were all performed by Bagdasarian, who sped up the playback to create high-pitched voices. This oft-used process was not entirely new to Bagdasarian, who had also used it for two previous novelty songs, including "Witch Doctor", but it was so unusual and well-executed it earned the record two Grammy Awards for engineering. Bagdasarian, performing as the Chipmunks, released a long line of albums and singles, with "The Chipmunk Song" becoming a number-one single in the United States. After the death of Bagdasarian in 1972, the characters' voices were performed by his son Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. and the latter's wife Janice Karman in the subsequent incarnations of the 1980s and 1990s.

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