For an ext than 60 years, the dulcet, high-speed tones of Alvin, Simon, and also Theodore Seville have actually resonated v generations of fans. Alvin and also the Chipmunks have actually made records, starred in many animated collection and films, and even have actually their own star on the Hollywood to walk of Fame. For much more on the background of this talented rodent trio, take a look at some facts on everything from their earliest recordings to the punk album that won them a whole new audience.

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1. The chipmunks owe a debt to The magician of Oz.

In the so late 1950s, actor and also musician Ross Bagdasarian was under to his last $200. Sustaining a family of five, he decided to purchase a ice cream recorder because that $190 and record a tune he felt would be in track with the fast and also sometimes indecipherable lyrics of modern music. “The Witch Doctor” featured Bagdasarian muttering gibberish the he sped up, ostensibly from a grasp of dark magic. The idea came in component from the inexplicable voices created by reel-to-reel ice cream recorders because that the Munchkins in 1939’s The sorcerer’s of Oz. To capture the distinctive pitch, Bagdasarian recorded at half-speed, transporting the lyrics slowly. Played at regular speed, the sounds favor he had been top top helium.

The playful tune was a struggle in 1958, getting to number one ~ above the charts. Bagdasarian attributed himself as Dave Seville, acquisition the advice that executives who believed his real name would be hard to pronounce. He also ditched the witch medical professional gimmick, but kept the high-speed squeak and attributed it to three chipmunks: Alvin, Simon, and also Theodore, i m sorry he called after executives Alvin Bennett, Simon Waronker, and also Theodore keep at his document company, Liberty Records. Performing every of the duties as the Chipmunks, Bagdasarian scored a holiday smash with “The Chipmunk song (Christmas don’t Be Late)” later that year. The single earned 3 Grammys and also sold a staggering 25 million records over the next few years. Chipmunkmania had actually officially begun.

2. They performed on The Ed Sullivan Show.

The earliest live-action incarnation the the Chipmunks came in 1959, as soon as Bagdasarian appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show together a trio of squirrel hand puppets. Few of the clip still exists and also can be perceived in the video above.

3. Their first cartoon to be short-lived.

Following the success that the albums, Bagdasarian accepted an sell for an animated series from CBS. Debuting in September 1961, The Alvin Show focused on the group’s domestic adventures and also musical sessions and also had a supporting cast that had manager (and Bagdasarian"s alter ego) Dave Seville and also non-human friends like Stanley the Eagle. The musical numbers are considered by some to be very early example of music videos, v melodies collection to footage. Unfortunately, The Alvin Show fail to find an audience in primetime, airing the opposite the well-known Western collection Wagon Train. That lasted just one season prior to being relegated to reruns top top Saturday mornings.

4. “Dave” had to pack a pistol throughout recording sessions.


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Alberto E. Rodriguez, Getty Images

Bagdasarian was quickly in the Chipmunk service full-time, recording a cable of albums, sometimes with supporting vocalists. One of them, Ron Hicklin, told The Hollywood Reporter in 2018 the the team to be recording in Hollywood when the watts riots between police and residents broke out in 1965. Fearing some kind of violent encounter, Hicklin said Bagdasarian lugged a pistol when walking from the studio to his car. “I psychic laughing later on how here we were within recording Chipmunks and then going exterior with Ross, who packing a pistol,” the said.

5. The Beatles were large fans.

In 1964, Bagdasarian exit The chipmunks Sing the Beatles Hits, one album-length compilation of covers from the Liverpool band. If it might have been permissible to execute them as parody there is no permission, Bagdasarian had the group’s blessing. They were reportedly huge fans of the Chipmunks and of the technical challenges associated in developing their distinctive warble. “They were simply amazed he to be able to perform the voices the Alvin and also Dave and also Simon and Theodore and also then the music, and also keep bouncing tracks back and forth," Ross Bagdasarian Jr. Told Variety previously this year. "The engineering feat of that was what impressed the Beatles so lot that they provided him the authorization to execute The squirrel Sing the Beatles Hits."

6. Chipmunk Punk offered the group new life.


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Christopher Polk, Getty photos for Fox

Bagdasarian was a male of numerous interests. After Alvin and also the squirrel had provided him a measure of gaue won security, he concentrated less top top the records and more on his winery, Sierra alcohol Corporation. After Bagdasarian passed away in 1972, his three kids inherited both the winemaking operation and the Chipmunks. After spending most of the 1970s keeping the team on ice, Ross Bagdasarian Jr. Determined to check out if the public was tho charmed by their singing.

He had trouble detect a deal until a bowl jockey played a high-speed version of Blondie’s “Call Me” and said it was a new Chipmunk track. As soon as that take it off, Bagdasarian Jr. Put together Chipmunk Punk, a repertoire of contemporary tunes like the Knack’s “My Sharona.” That resulted in a brand-new Saturday morning series, Alvin and the Chipmunks, which ran native 1983 come 1990. Bagdasarian Jr. Took end the vocal duties because that Alvin, Simon, and also Dave. His wife, janice Karman, perform Theodore and the all-female Chipettes.

7. The cartoon guess the loss of the Berlin Wall.

In one 1988 illustration of Alvin and also the Chipmunks, the gang appeared in a dream succession in which they find themselves near the Berlin wall surface and making use of the strength of music to tear it under to help reunite a family. Strange as it can have been to watch a cartoon handle communism, that was also stranger come see just how it suspect the autumn of the yes, really Berlin wall surface just two years later in 1991.

8. Robert Zemeckis practically directed one Alvin and also the squirrel movie.

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Alberto E. Rodriguez, Getty Images

The Chipmunks have traditionally been depicted in animation, despite they did appear in puppet type in the 2003 direct-to-DVD special little Alvin and also the Mini-Munks, one educational relax that featured the team as preschoolers. But their very first live-action illustration was supposed to be in the mid-1990s, v Back come the Future manager Robert Zemeckis to plan a attribute film. When that failed come materialize, the chipmunks bided your time until a 2007 CGI feature, Alvin and also the Chipmunks, was released. Three sequels followed, including 2009’s Alvin and also the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, 2011’s Alvin and also the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, and also 2015’s Alvin and the Chipmunks: The roadway Chip.