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The Chipmunks Biography


Home > Music > C > Chipmunks, The > Biography


Birth Place: Fresno, California, U.S.
Years Active: 1958–1972, 1979–present
Genres: Country, Pop, Rock, Dance, Hip Hop, Christmas Music, Children's Music


Alvin and the Chipmunks is an American animated music group created by Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. in 1958. The group consists of three singing animated anthropomorphic chipmunks: Alvin, the mischievous troublemaker, who quickly became the star of the group; Simon, the tall, bespectacled intellectual; and Theodore, the chubby, impressionable one. The trio is managed by their human father David Seville. In reality, David Seville was Bagdasarian's stage name, and the Chipmunks themselves are named after the executives of their original record label. The characters were an unprecedented success, and the singing Chipmunks and their manager were given life in several animated cartoon productions, using redrawn, anthropomorphic chipmunks, and eventually films.

The voices of the group were all performed by Bagdasarian, who sped up the playback to create higher pitched voices. This oft-used process was also not entirely new to Bagdasarian, who had also used it for two previous novelty song projects, including “The Witch Doctor,” but it was so unusual and well executed it earned the trio two Grammy Awards for engineering. Although the characters were fictional, they did release a long line of actual albums and singles, with “The Chipmunk Song” becoming a #1 hit single in the United States. After Ross Bagdasarian, Sr.'s death in 1972, their voices were performed by Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. and Janice Karman in the subsequent incarnations of the 1980s and 1990s.

In the 2007 CGI/live-action movie adaptation and its 2009 sequel, they were voiced in dialogue by Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jesse McCartney, respectively. Bagdasarian, Jr. and Karman continue to perform the singing voices for Alvin, Theodore and the Chipettes, but Steve Vining now does Simon's singing voice. They are one of the most successful music groups of all time, earning five Grammy awards, an American Music Award, a Golden Reel Award, two Kids' Choice Awards, and have been nominated for three Emmy awards.