Daws made three types of records during overlapping periods of time. While he was still in radio and working occasionally for Tex Avery at MGM, Daws began lending his voice to children’s records. For example, in late 1950, Belda Records released Daws and Marian Richman in such tales as ‘Three Blind Mice,’ ‘The Enchanted Toymaker’ and ‘The Flying Turtle,’ which came with its own comic book of the story. He moved to the big leagues March 5, 1953 by signing with Capitol, for whom he made such recordings as ‘Peppy Possum’.
Then in October 1953, Daws and Stan Freberg seem to have given birth to the comedy record industry with their Capitol 45 of ‘St. George and the Dragonet’ (Walter Schumann composed the Dragnet theme and had a version of it on the charts at the same time). Daws and Stan went on to record other satires that, in some cases, are even more relevant today (1958’s Green Christmas, for example).
Daws’ third type of recording came after the smash success of Huckleberry Hound when he cut various sides for Colpix (Columbia Pictures’ record arm) of characters of the Hanna-Barbera TV shows (distributed by Columbia).
Some of Daws’ recordings are rare and heard mainly on novelty record shows. But, thanks to the internet, they’re in circulation and we’ll present
Daws recorded a few of his own parodies. Configity-ential! is his take-off of the 1950s scandal rag ‘Confidential.’ Daws uses his Gleason voice here and if you don’t recognise the little old lady with him, you really shouldn’t be reading this blog. The Mr. Worm voice sure reminds me of one Freberg did in the ‘Bridey Murphy’ sketch.
Next comes The Sixty-Four Million Dollar Question, his travesty of the TV game show ‘The $64,000 Question.’ The voice of Ramsey Cull should remind you of a certain cartoon cat that’s, like, you know, orange and hates meeces to pieces. I like how the announcer is named “George”; George Fenneman was Groucho Marx’ announcer on ‘You Bet Your Life.’ June Foray is Ingrid. Did Billy May do the music on these two?
THE SIXTY-FOUR MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION
The next two are really cute. They feature Daws singing in character using one of his little boy voices that’s pretty close to Elroy Jetson but a little more upbeat. The boy in this case is a duckling named Inky. Who else but Daws would put “peptic ulcers” in the lyrics of a kid’s song? These both have piano accompaniment and a small chorus. The last one refers to “George.” I’d like to think it’s the great George Shearing doing some session work for some extra bucks.
Now we come to two songs with Daws as Huckleberry Hound. Hanna-Barbera wasn’t making new Huck cartoons by 1964, but the affable blue dog was still in syndication and still very much a money-making property for the studio. Billboard of December 26, 1964 devoted part of its front page space to this story, which explains the background behind the final records we’re posting. Here’s the relevant portion of the story:
Hanna-Barbera Forms Label; Tap Bohanan
By ELIOT TIEGEL
HOLLYWOOD—Hanna-Barbera Productions, the eight-year-old TV film production firm, is entering the record industry, and has named Don Bohanan to head its new venture. The label will be known as Hanna-Barbera Records.
Bohanan, marketing director for Liberty Records, will move to H-B the first of the year. The label will produce and market material aimed at both the adult and children’s fields. Bohanan’s first duties will be to build his executive team.
Bohanan’s successor at Liberty will be named next week.
“We are setting up an operation to exploit all our cartoon characters and we expect to come out with a complete middle line of low-end, middle-price and class line of products,” said Bill Hanna, co-owner with Joseph Barbera of the successful animation film production company.
“We plan to go into all phases of the record business,” Hanna said. “We have our own recording facilities and are completely equipped to move ahead in that field. We feel our characters, as we have them now and as we continue to develop them, will make good merchandisable material for the kiddie and adult market,” Hanna said.
In the company’s eight years, its growth has been one of Hollywood’s brightest success stories. The Hanna-Barbera touch has been applied to such network TV properties as “Yogi Bear,” “Flintstones,” “Huckleberry Hound” and “Magilla Gorilla.”
In the past, H-B has placed its material with other labels. Through a licensing agreement with Screen Gems, H-B characters were issued on both Colpix and Golden Records. The company recently entered the novelty field through Ned Herzstam’s Merri Records which issued the single “Bingo Ringo,” by Huckleberry Hound.
It is understood Bohanan’s contract with H-B is for three years.
It’s not too clear when Herzstam started Merri. He was a pianist and former WW2 prisoner of war who wrote some songs in the ‘50s and eventually got connected in 1963 to a Los Angeles company called Fink Records. Here are the two Huck-style parodies released by Merri. Bingo Ringo takes aim at Lorne Greene’s ‘Ringo’, the spoken-word 45 that topped the Adult Contemporary and Pop charts in 1964.
And finally, Huck does a beach blanket version of his signature song, Clementine. We get some cheesy, note-bending back-up singers in addition to kind of a lame guitar open. It’s too bad they didn’t stick in a bridge with a wicked surf guitar and a Hammond organ but, as another song of a few years later reminds us all, you can’t always get what you want. If it had been Freberg, he would have found a way to ridicule the whole musical genre, like he did others. Of course, Freberg’s hypothetical 45 would have been aimed at adults; this one isn’t.
It’s a pleasure to hear Daws do the characters he originated. Golden Records apparently cut its sides in New York, with local actor Gil Mack approximating Daws’ voice. Okay, he’s not. Some of Mack’s impressions are downright awful and at least one makes you wonder if he had ever heard the character before. We’ll save those for another time. If nothing else, they—like the six cuts above—make you appreciate the artistry of Charles Dawson Butler.
A Yowp Bonus: At the suggestion of Kliph Nesteroff, broadcaster, researcher, writer and humanitarian cyclist, I have added a third novelty record, I Was a Teenage Reindeer, released in November 1959 on the well-known Dico label.
I WAS A TEENAGE REINDEER
The review of this single in Billboard that month is ridiculously charitable by calling Backus’ performance “Magoo-ish”. It’s so full of Magoo, I keep waiting for him to walk onto an airplane wing and call for Waldo (played occasionally by one D. Butler). Daws doesn’t quite do Jinks, as the pitch is a bit different, but you’ll notice the resemblance.
And since Errol rang up the Yowp All Hits/All the Time request line, here are Daws and the unmistakeable Billy Bletcher in ‘Peppy Possum’, recorded at Capitol’s Melrose Avenue studios on October 21, 1953. It was turned into the soundtrack of a Mel-O-Toon cartoon about 1959-1960. This version skips at the beginning. We even get Daws singing in character, sped up.
Daws got credit on the cartoon. Bletcher didn’t. If you go here to the 39:29 mark, you can see it in black and white. The Mel-O-Toons were produced by Art Scott’s studio; Scott had been an assistant to Dick Lundy and Ed Love at Disney in the pre-strike period, and you’ll see his name in credits at Hanna-Barbera, starting with The Flintstones. As for the record, Billy May conducted the orchestra and a member of the string section is Harry Bluestone, who composed his own stock music used by H-B a few years later.