The Battle of the Rodents
Except for these current times when everything is overly serious – there has always been room on the Hit Parade for a wacky tune. They were goofy and zany and reflections of times gone by when we could enjoy a good belly laugh. Sometimes they reflected current events and happenings and sometimes not.
What Came First? The Squirrel or the Chipmunk?
David Seville’s Chipmunks, as I have written about, were solely responsible for rescuing the fledgling and independent record label, Liberty Records, arrived during the 1958 holiday season with what would become a “Christmas Standard” of sorts with “The Christmas Song”.
The Nutty Squirrels arrived shortly thereafter, a creation of Granville Burland and Don Elliott, two jazz musicians. Compared to the Chipmunks, the Nutties were quite sophisticated with their hum-along rhythms and their somewhat limited vocabularies consisting primarily of “Uh’s” and “Oh’s”.
The original intention was to establish a weekly television show for the Squirrels, an idea which was already being pursued for The Chipmunks. Production quagmires stalled the Chipmunks and the Nutty Squirrels actually launched their “series” first with “The Nutty Squirrels Present” (1960) . It quickly bombed and was supplanted by a more successful effort from Seville’s rodents.
The Nutty Squirrels’ jazz oriented “Uh! Oh! Part 1” charted at number 45 but was exceeded by “Part 2” which rose all the way to number 9 (don’t ask me why). Cannonball Adderley was among the musicians backing the squirrels on recordings.
An attempt was made to resurrect the Nutty Squirrels in 1976 by Bob Milsap. For legal reasons he was prevented from labeling his group as the “Nutty Squirrels” but was able to use the duo’s first names of “Shirley and Squirrely” and the result was a minor hit (#45) titled (appropriately enough) “Hey Shirley, This is Squirrely”). A final 1981 LP titled “Shirley, Squirrely and Melvin” (who is Melvin?) was the final hurrah for the Squirrels, whereas the Chipmunks have continued on and on up to the current time through the efforts of Seville’s son.
David Seville passed away in 1972 and was preceded by Ross Jr. From 2007 into 2015 The Chipmunks were featured in four motion pictures.