The Nutty Squirrels

The Nutty Squirrels are a 1959-1964 jazz virtual band formed in imitation of Alvin and the Chipmunks. The Nutty Squirrels' music was characterized by their use of scat singing. They received a Top 40 hit in late-1959 as the song "Uh! Oh!".[1] They also preceded The Alvin Show in which they appeared on television in 1960 as The Nutty Squirrels Present, but the show's success was rather decreased.[2]

The Nutty Squirrels
GenresJazz, pop
Years active1959–1964
LabelsHanover, RCA
Past membersDon Elliott
Alexander "Sascha" Burland

The group's first two albums, The Nutty Squirrels and Bird Watching, were released in 1959. The Nutty Squirrels' final album, The Nutty Squirrels Sing A Hard Day's Night and Other Smashes, marked a stylistic change from their first two albums, featuring covers of the Beatles songs, and was closer to the novelty pop style of the Chipmunks.

BiographyEdit

After The Chipmunks' initial success in 1958, plans were almost immediately made to make them into an animated cartoon series. Unfortunately, there were some initial art direction snags (specifically with the character designs) and the show was delayed. This gap resulted in a race between the Chipmunks and an imitative group created by jazz musicians Don Elliott and Granville Burland, which they called the Nutty Squirrels.

Both musical groups featured the defining sped-up voices, but Ross Bagdasarian Sr.'s Chipmunks favored popular music while the Squirrels favored jazz, particularly of the bebop variety. Ultimately, the Squirrels made it to television first, in the animated series The Nutty Squirrels Present (appearing in September 1960), but its popularity was decreased as of the originals.

"Uh! Oh! (Part 1)" peaked at #45 on the Billboard Pop Singles Chart, while "Uh! Oh! (Part 2)" peaked at #14.[3]

In the 2007 live-action/animated movie Alvin and the Chipmunks, during the credits, Ian Hawke (David Cross) is trying to get three squirrels to sing.

PersonnelEdit

  • Don Elliott: vocals, trumpet, vibraphone, possible other instruments
  • Granville Alexander "Sascha" Burland: vocals

Among the New York-based session musicians playing on these albums were Cannonball Adderley,[4] (alto sax), Bobby Jaspar (flute), and Sam Most (clarinet)

DiscographyEdit

AlbumsEdit

Year Album Label
1959 The Nutty Squirrels Hanover
1961 Bird Watching Columbia
1964 The Nutty Squirrels Sing A Hard Day's Night and Other Smashes MGM

SinglesEdit

Year Single Chart Positions Album
US US R&B US Country CAN Country
1959 "Uh! Oh! Part 1" 45 The Nutty Squirrels
"Uh! Oh! Part 2" 14 9
1960 "Eager Beaver"
"Uh-Huh + 3"
"Please Don't Take Our Tree for Christmas" N/A
1963 "Hello Again"

ReceptionEdit

In his 2019 autobiography, Mr. Know-It-All, John Waters wrote, "I should have told my mother about the Nutty Squirrels. They did jazz and they weren't junkies. This sped-up vocal group who imitated the Chipmunks actually beat them to television with an animated show called The Nutty Squirrels Present, and they looked down on the pop sound of Alvin and his gang. The Nutty Squirrels actually had a big jazz hit with "Uh Oh, Part One and Two," but if you go back and listen to the rest of their discography, you'll be blown away by some of their other riffs. These cats were smoking! If my mom had heard jazz like this at the wrong speed, she might have loved it."[5]

Further readingEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Erickson, Hal (2001). Syndicated Television: The First Forty Years, 1947-1987. McFarland & Co. p. 127. ISBN 9780786411986. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  2. ^ Perlmutter, David (2018). The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 433. ISBN 978-1538103739.
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ "Cannonbal Adderley / the complete discography as a sideman". Cannonball-adderley.com.
  5. ^ Waters, John (2019). Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 9780374715571. Retrieved 21 March 2020.

External linksEdit