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Ross Bagdasarian

Ross Bagdasarian

American singer-songwriter, record producer, and actor
Ross Bagdasarian
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American singer-songwriter, record producer, and actor
Was Actor Musician Singer Songwriter Composer Screenwriter Pianist Poet Television actor Record producer Film actor Voice actor
From United States of America
Type Business Film, TV, Stage & Radio Literature Music
Gender male
Birth 27 January 1919, Fresno, Fresno County, California, USA
Death 16 January 1972, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County, California, USA (aged 53 years)
Star sign Aquarius
Residence Fresno, Fresno County, California, USA
Family
Children: Ross Bagdasarian, Jr.
Relatives: William Saroyan
Awards
Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album 1958
Grammy Award for Best Album for Children 1958
Grammy Award for Best Album for Children 1960
Genre:
Pop music
Instruments:
Piano
Voice and guitar
Peoplepill ID ross-bagdasarian-sr
The details (from wikipedia)

Biography

Rostom Sipan "Ross" Bagdasarian (/bæɡdəˈsɛriən/; January 27, 1919 – January 16, 1972), known professionally by his stage name David Seville, was an American singer-songwriter, record producer, and actor, best known for creating the cartoon band Alvin and the Chipmunks. Initially a stage and film actor, he rose to prominence in 1958 with the songs "Witch Doctor" and "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)", which both became Billboard number-one singles. He produced and directed The Alvin Show, which aired on CBS in 1961–62.

Life

Rostom Sipan Bagdasarian was born in Fresno, California, to Armenian parents. His father was a grape farmer. The novelist William Saroyan was his first cousin and a life-long friend. Bagdasarian served as a Staff sergeant (SSgt) in the United States Army Air Forces. During World War II, from January 1941 to December 1945, he was stationed in Europe. His later stage name "David Seville" originated from the fact that he was stationed in the city of Seville in Spain.

Career

Acting

Bagdasarian's Broadway debut was in 1939 when he played the newsboy in The Time of Your Life by William Saroyan, his cousin. He also appeared in minor roles in several films, such as Viva Zapata! (1952), Stalag 17 (1953), Destination Gobi (1953), Rear Window (1954) and The Proud and Profane (1956). Notably, in Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window he is the piano player. In Stalag 17 he sings "I Love You" in a pivotal scene at the POW Christmas Party.

Singing and songwriting

Bagdasarian's major success with songwriting came with "Come On-a My House". Originally recorded by Kay Armen in 1950, it was turned into a million-selling hit in 1951 by Rosemary Clooney released by Columbia Records. It is an adaptation of an Armenian folk song Bagdasarian wrote with his cousin William Saroyan. The song was originally composed for their off-Broadway musical The Son. It launched Clooney's career, reaching number one on Billboard charts and was number four on Billboard year-end top 30 singles of 1951. The song sold some 750,000 records in a month. In 1954, he wrote "Hey Brother, Pour the Wine", a hit for Dean Martin.

In 1955, Bagdasarian signed with the then new Liberty Records. The following year, he had a transcontinental hit with the novelty record "The Trouble with Harry" credited to Alfi & Harry.. It reached #44 on the Billboard chart and was a bigger hit in England reaching #15. Later in 1956, he charted with his first record credited to his David Seville pseudonym, "Armen's Theme" which reached #42 on the Billboard chart.

David Seville and the Chipmunks

Bagdasarian from 1972 shortly before his death

Bagdasarian's rise to prominence came with the song "Witch Doctor" in 1958, which was created after he experimented with the speed control on a tape recorder bought with $200 from the family savings. Liberty Records released this novelty record under the David Seville name. It is a duet between his real voice and accelerated version. The record went on to become a Billboard number-one single by April 28, 1958 and further established him as a songwriter. It sold 1.5 million copies.

Bagdasarian went on to create his trio of Chipmunks named after the executives of Liberty Records: Simon, Theodore, and Alvin. Their debut song, "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)" was released on November 17, 1958 and became a number one hit by New Years Day. The song sold 4 million records in the first few months. It topped Billboard charts the two weeks before and two weeks after New Years and won three Grammy Awards at the 1st Annual Grammy Awards on May 4, 1959: Best Recording for Children, Best Comedy Performance, and Best Non-Classical Engineered Song. Bagdasarian won the first two as David Seville. The song was the 23rd most performed Christmas song of the 20th century.

Shana Alexander, writing for Life magazine in 1959, noted that Bagdasarian was the first man in the "annals of popular music that one man has served as writer, composer, publisher, conductor and multiple vocalist of a hit record, thereby directing all possible revenues from the song back into his pocket." Alexander also found it remarkable that Bagdasarian "can neither read nor write music nor play any musical instrument in the accepted sense of the word." Bagdasarian owned Chipmunk Enterprises, which sponsored Chipmunk-related sales. By 1963 some 15 companies were using or planned to use Alvin figures. By that year Billboard magazine estimated the total income from the Chipmunks' record sales (including overseas sales) and record club sales to be around $20 million (around $165 million adjusted for inflation).

In the following years the Chipmunks released several hit songs: "Alvin's Harmonica" (1959), "Ragtime Cowboy Joe" (1959), "Alvin's Orchestra" (1960), "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" (1960), "The Alvin Twist" (1962), and the album The Chipmunks Sing the Beatles Hits in 1964 during the British Invasion.

Bagdasarian then produced The Alvin Show, a TV cartoon broadcast on CBS from October 1961 to September 1962.

Personal life

Bagdasarian lived with family in Los Angeles from 1950. In the mid-1960s he bought Sierra Wine Corp., a winery that supplied product, among others, to E & J Gallo Winery. He died of a heart attack at his home in Beverly Hills on January 16, 1972, 11 days before his 53rd birthday. He was cremated and inurned at the Chapel of the Pines Crematory in Los Angeles.

Bagdasarian willed the Chipmunks franchise to his wife Armenuhi Kulhanjian and three children: Carol (b. 1947), an actress; Adam (b. 1955), a fiction writer; and Ross Jr. (b. 1949). Ross Bagdasarian Jr. said in an interview that he "worshipped" his father and felt a need to continue his work. He resumed activities of the franchise with his wife Janice Karman in the late 1970s, after finishing law school, and became the complete owner when he bought the rights from his brother and sister in the mid-1990s.

Discography

Albums

  • The Music of David Seville (1957 Liberty 3073)
  • The Witch Doctor Presents: David Seville...and his Friends (1958 Liberty 3092)
  • The Chipmunks Sing the Beatles Hits (1964 Sunset/Liberty; as Alvin and the Chipmunks with David Seville)
  • The Mixed-up World of Bagdasarian (1966 Liberty 7451; recorded under David Seville's real name, Ross Bagdasarian)
  • Let's All Sing with the Chipmunks
  • The Alvin Show
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 12 Apr 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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References
https://www.allmusic.com/artist/david-seville-mn0000812428/biography
//doi.org/10.1300%2FJ116v05n01_01
http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:PsyqbWwJXyQJ:legacy.sandiegouniontribune.com/uniontrib/20071213/news_lz1w13chip.html+&cd=45&hl=hy&ct=clnk&gl=am
https://archive.org/details/obituaries00saro/page/328
https://www.nytimes.com/1972/01/19/archives/ross-bagdasarian-i-actor-song-writer.html?_r=0
https://books.google.com/books?id=DykffzkFALoC&pg=PA582&dq=Ross+Bagdasarian+armenian+fresno+1919&hl=hy&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjqtYjA5v7WAhUJCpoKHYOOCKAQ6AEIMzAC#v=onepage&q=Ross%20Bagdasarian%20armenian%20fresno%201919&f=false
https://www.weeklystandard.com/ann-stapleton/saroyan-turns-100
https://books.google.am/books?id=D2ehAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA177&lpg=PA177&dq=Bagdasarian+cousin+william+saroyan
https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/1981/05/19/william-saroyan-dies-at-72/5cad502d-8aca-478d-a53a-9d6156d841ab/
https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015029136465;view=1up;seq=188
https://i.imgur.com/3HENs84.jpg
https://web.archive.org/web/20181130193449/https://www.vulture.com/2015/11/the-dark-angry-father-of-alvin-and-the-chipmunks.html
https://www.vulture.com/2015/11/the-dark-angry-father-of-alvin-and-the-chipmunks.html
http://articles.latimes.com/2007/dec/21/entertainment/et-chipmunks21
https://www.nytimes.com/1986/05/09/arts/pop-jazz-clooney-and-bennett-old-school-professionals.html
https://books.google.am/books?id=2dgJVseZAlsC&pg=PA60&dq=Bagdasarian
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