Day 120: No #1? We’re Bewitched!

Today is the sixth of the eight days without a #1 during this project.  So we’ve gone all the way back to yesterday for a surprising #1…

Song: “Witch Doctor” by David Seville
Reached #1: April 28, 1958 (his first, 3 weeks, Top 100 and Best Seller charts)

oooh eeeh oooh aaah aaah

As long as there’s been recorded audio, there’s been tricks with recorded audio.  Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. was the first to figure out that you can tinker with the speed of a recording to create entertaining pitch effects.

In other words, he (through a friend who showed him the trick) found that when you double the speed of a tape, you can wind up sounding like… well… a chipmunk.  Or, at least, what a chipmunk would sound like if it talked like a human being.

But before Alvin and his brothers arrived, Bagdasarian experimented with the technique by putting out a song about a witch doctor whose help is sought by a man smitten with a woman who won’t reply.

Bagdasarian released the single under his stage name, David Seville – but didn’t originally release this as a Chipmunks track, as he hadn’t gotten that far yet.  In fact, despite the billing shown in the YouTube clip, Seville always kept this separate from the Chipmunks.  On The Alvin Show, he once had his character take credit for “Witch Doctor”, and had Alvin agree to it… saying “you made it without us!”

Of course, the Chipmunks have had a bit of a revival in the last few years, in the hands of Ross Bagdasarian, Jr.  The younger Bagdasarian took over several years after his father passed away in 1972.

Tomorrow, some early blue-eyed soul out of… New Jersey.

No songs reached #1 on April 29.


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