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Spike Jones

Lindley Armstrong Jones was a musical genius. In the wild and woolly days before multi-track recording, MTV, and certainly digital entertainment content, Spike Jones put together a top-flight musical organization that the world has not seen the likes of since. Known as the City Slickers, the emphasis was on comedy, primarily doing dead-on satires of popular songs on the hit parade and taking the air out of pompous classical selections as well.

Not merely content to do cornball renderings of standard material or trite novelty tunes for comedic effect, Jones' musical vision encompassed whistles, bells, gargling, broken glass, and gunshots perfectly timed and wedded to the most musical and unmusical of source points. His stage show was no less mind-boggling, needing a full railroad car just to carry the props alone, all presented without electronic gimmickry of any kind, with visuals that would make your eyes pop out of your head. Though he often downplayed his musical achievements (all part of the master plan of selling the idea to the general public), the fact remains that Spike was a strict bandleader and taskmaster, making sure his musicians were precision tight and adept in a variety of musical styles from Dixieland to classical, with a caliber of musicianship several notches higher than most big bands of the day that played so-called "straight" music.

In other words, Jones was no dummy. He knew what he was doing when he put the whole concept together -- checkerboard suits and all. It gave him Top Ten hits on phonograph records and proved immensely popular as a stage show, in movies, and on television. (It became a badge of honor with pop musicians that you really hadn't tasted true success until Spike Jones & the City Slickers had destroyed your song.) A definite precursor to the video age, Jones didn't merely play the songs funny, he illustrated them as well, a total audio and visual assault for the senses.

Jones (the son of a railroad man, hence the nickname) had started as a jazz drummer and radio session player working with top-drawer stars like Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby, among others. (One of the more interesting bits of Jones trivia is that if you listen hard enough, that's him gently working his wire brushes in the background on Bing's "White Christmas.") But as in-demand as he might have been, musician union restrictions only allowed so many radio dates to be worked by one drummer. To this end (and to distinguish himself from the pack), Jones added a full set of tuned cowbells, guns, whistles, and sirens to his already existing drum set, thus insuring steady work as a both a drummer and small-scale sound effects man.

Although these additions made him unique in a field loaded with anonymous sidemen, Jones had bigger and crazier ideas. After putting together various after-hours small groups that played "corny just for fun" (including early recordings with the Penny-Funnies and Cinema-Fritzers bands for the short-lived Cinematone company), he formed the City Slickers in the early '40s. By 1942, his sixth record under the new band's name, "Der Fuehrer's Face," became not only a national hit but a national mania, and Jones' self-named "musical depreciation revue" was off and running.

The bands assembled over the years under the City Slickers banner would feature everyone from singers, midgets, acrobats, and vaudeville comics to musicians who could just plain blow their brains out, all hand-picked by Jones. From George Rock's braying, high-register trumpet and kiddie voices to Freddie Morgan's incredible rubber-faced pantomime banjo shenanigans, from Sir Frederick Gas' insane "twig" bowing to Billy Barty's Liberace impressions, here was a band that truly defied description. Musicians who could play multiple instruments in a wide variety of styles were commonplace, making the City Slickers the crackerjack unit they were. But certain members of the troupe (like Gas or Barty) were hired because they did one thing extremely well, and would proceed to do it on a nightly basis, key players all. (For years, the rumor persisted that Jones had a guy on the payroll who did nothing but gargle.)

Though bands that played "corny" had been successful before he leapt to national fame (most notably Freddie Fisher & the Schnickelfritzers and the Hoosier Hot Shots), Jones' musical vision also encompassed a total assault against the conventions of general show-business pomposity. Whatever the newest fad (current singing stars, radio, television, and movie personalities), if Jones could figure a way to ridicule it for the "this month's flavor" shallowness of it all, the City Slickers torch was duly applied. And once you heard Jones' version of the tune, you could never go back and take any of those idols of the moment quite as seriously as you might have before. Although parodies of pop music continued to proliferate (Weird Al Yankovic is probably the closest modern-day equivalent, although he's closer in style to an Allan Sherman; he sings funny lyrics to normal songs, he doesn't play them funny), the simple fact remains that Spike Jones & His City Slickers did it better than anyone before or since. ~ Cub Koda
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Spike Jones (Rire ! Vol. 2)

1. Der Fuhrer's Face (La tronche du Fuhrer)

2. Ghost Riders in the Sky

3. Hawaiian War Chant

4. Chinese Mule Train

5. Cocktails for Two

6. The Man On the Flying Trapeze

7. Hotcha Cornia

8. Knock Knock Who's There?

9. Holiday for Strings

10. I Wonder Where My Baby Is Tonight

11. Red Wing

12. Deep Purple

13. I Dream of Jennie With the Light Blue Jeans

14. Our Hour (The Puppy Love Song)

15. I'm Getting Sentimental Over You

16. Nutcracker Suite Grand Version

x

Track List: The Poet & The Peasant Volume 1

1. That Old Black Magic

2. Cocktails For Two

3. The Blue Danube

4. Hawaiian War Chant

5. Drip, Drip, Drip (Sloopy Lagoon)

6. The Glow Worm

7. Three Little Words

8. Love For Sale

9. Oh! By Jingo

10. G. I. Haircut

11. Holiday For Strings

12. All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)

13. Liebesträume

14. None But The Lonely Heart (A Soaperetta)

15. William Tell Overture

16. People Will Say We're In Love

17. When Yuba Plays The Rhumba With Tuba

18. Black Bottom

19. Leave The Dishes In The Sink, Ma

20. As Time Goes By

x

Track List: Humorously Explains Flamenco Dancing (Performed Live On The Ed Sullivan Show 2/26/61) (Single)

x

Track List: Digitally Spiked

1. Red Wing

2. You Always Hurt The Ones You Love

3. The Blue Danube

4. The Sheik Of Araby

5. And The Great Big Saw Came Nearer

6. Cocktails For Two

7. Clink, Clink, Another Drink

8. Down In Jungle Town

9. Little Bo Peep Has Lost Her Jeep

10. The Glow Worm

11. By The Sea

12. Pass The Biscuits, Mirandy

13. His Rocking Horse Ran Away

14. Oh! By Jingo!

15. Chloe

16. The Greatest Man In Siam

17. Der Fuehrer's Face

18. Liebestraum

19. I Wanna Go Back To West Virginia

20. Hotcha Camya

21. Drip, Drip, Drip

22. That Old Black Magic

x

Track List: Omnibust / 60 Years Of Music America Hates Best

1. Ah-1, Ah-2, Ah-Sunset Strip

2. Loretta's Soaperetta

3. Captain Bangaroo

4. The Late Late Movies - Part 1

5. The Wonderful World Of Hari Kari

6. I Search For Golden Adventure (In My Seven Leaky Boots)

7. A Mudder's Day Sport Spectacular (William Tell Overture)

8. The Late Late Movies - Part 2

9. I Kiss Your Hand, Madame

10. Knock, Knock, Who's There?

11. River, Stay 'Way From My Door

12. Pimples And Braces

13. Hut Sut Song

14. Strip Polka

15. Mairzy Doats

16. The 20's Roar (Medley)

17. Melody Of Love (Why Do I Love You)

18. Three Little Fishies

19. Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb (Spooky, Spooky, Lend Me Your Tomb)

x

Track List: Spike Jones, (Not) Your Standard Spike Jones Collection

Disc 1

1. Sheik of Araby—from the 1921 show “Make It Snappy”—vocals by Carol Grayson

2. I’m Going To Write Home—vocals by Carol Grayson

3. Three Little Worlds—from the 1930 film “Check and Double Check” revived in 1950 film “Three Little Words”-- V: King Jackson

4. You’re A Sap Mister Jap-- V: Boys In The Back Rooms

5. Never Hit Your Grandma With A Shovel (Use An Ax Instead)

6. Cocktails For Two—from 1934 film “Murder At The Vanities”—V: Carl Grayson and the City Slickers

7. Mary Lou—revived in 1948 film “Mary Lou”, V: Mixed Quartet

8. He Broke My Heart In Three Places (She Broke My Heart In Three Places)—V: Nilson Twins

9. Sailin’ On The Robert E. Lee

10. The Great Big Saw Came Nearer And Nearer

11. His Rocking Horse Ran Away

12. Oh How She Lied To Me

13. Toot, Toot, Tootsie (Good-bye)

14. You Always Hurt The One You Love

15. Chlo-E (Song of the Swamp)

16. The Blue Danube

17. That Old Black Magic

18. Holiday For Strings

19. No, No Nora

20. Hi Neighbor

21. Behind Those Swingin’ Doors

22. Clink Clink Another Drink

23. Barstool Cowboy

24. Moo Woo Woo

25. Fort Worth Jail

26. Pass The Biscuits Mirandy

Disc 2

1. Last Horizon

2. Don’t Talk To Me About Women

3. Big Bad Bill

4. Trailer Annie

5. Siam

6. Hotcha, Cornya

7. Hey, Mable

8. Boogie, Woogie, Cowboy

9. Dodging A Gal From Dodge City

10. Serenade To A Jerk

11. Ridin’ Home With You

12. Now Laugh

13. That’s What Makes The World Go Round

14. Don’t Give The Chair To Buster

15. Forty Eight Reasons Why

16. De Camptown Races With Gestures

17. Blacksmith Song

18. Der Fuehrer’s Face

19. I Wanna Go Back To West Virginia

20. Water Lou

21. St-St-St-Stella

22. I Know A Story

23. Hi-Ho, My Lady

24. John Scotter Trott

25. Cheatin’ On The Sandman

26. Girl I Left Behind Me

27. Camptown Races #2

Disc 3

1. Come Josephine In My Flying Machine

2. Love For Sale

3. Moanin’ Low

4. Horsey, Keep Your Tail Up

5. Yankee Doodler

6. Down In Jungle Town

7. Whittle Out A Whistle

8. By the Beautiful Sea

9. At Last I’m First With You

10. Liebestraum

11. City Slicker Polka

12. Red Grow The Roses

13. Jamboree Jones

14. Down By The O Hi O

15. Casey Jones

16. The Glow Worm

17. Red Wing

18. Row, Row, Row

19. Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag And Smile, Smile, Smile

20. They Go Wild Simply Wild Over Me

21. Oh By Jingo

22. It Had To Be You

23. When Buddha Smiles

24. Paddlin’ Madelin Home

25. Little Bo Beep Has Lost Her Jeep

26. Sailor With The Navy Blue Eyes

x

Track List: Musical Mayhem !!!

1. That Old Black Magic

2. Clink, Clink, Another Drink

3. By The Beautiful Sea

4. Chloe

5. And The Great Big Saw Came Nearer

6. Red Wing

7. Pass The Biscuits, Mirandy

8. Little Bo Peep Has Lost Her Jeep

9. Der Fuehrer's Face

10. Cocktails For Two

11. The Sheik Of Araby

12. Liebestraum

13. Oh! By Jingo!

14. Hotcha Camya

15. The Glow Worm

16. Down In Jungle Town

17. The Greatest Man In Siam

18. His Rocking Horse Ran Away

19. I Wanna Go Back To West Virginia

20. The Blue Danube

x

Track List: Musical Depreciation Revue: The Spike Jones Anthology

Disc 1

1. Clink, Clink, Another Drink

2. Der Fuehrer's Face

3. The Sheik Of Araby

4. Hotcha Cornia (Black Eyes)

5. Cocktails For Two

6. Leave The Dishes In The Sink, Ma

7. Holiday For Strings

8. Chloe

9. That Old Black Magic

10. You Always Hurt The One You Love

11. Liebestraum

12. The Glow Worm

13. Hawaiian War Chant (Ta-Hu-Wa-Hu-Wai)

14. Laura

15. Jones Polka

16. Love In Bloom

17. The Man On The Flying Trapeze

18. My Old Flame

19. All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth

20. Happy New Year

Disc 2

1. William Tell Overture

2. By The Beautiful Sea

3. Ill Barkio (Il Bacio)

4. None But The Lonely Heart (A Soaperetta)

5. Ya Wanna Buy A Bunny?

6. Dance Of The Hours

7. Wild Bill Hiccup

8. Barney Google

9. Morpheus

10. Rhapsody From Hunger(Y)

11. Black Bottom

12. Pal-Yat-Chee

13. Yes! We Have No Bananas

14. April Showers

15. I Went To Your Wedding

16. Secret Love

17. I'm In The Mood For Love

18. Black And Blue Danube Waltz. Paris Symphony (Texas)

20. I Only Have Eyes For You

x

Track List: Spike Jones In Stereo, A Spooktacular In Screaming Sound

1. I Only Have Eyes For You

2. Poison To Poison

3. Teenage Brain Surgeon

4. (All Of A Sudden) My Heart Sings

5. Everything Happens To Me

6. Monster Movie Ball

7. Tammy

8. My Old Flame

9. This Is Your Death/ Two Heads Are Better Than One

10. Spooktacular Finale

Comments

Report as inappropriate
rharrison964
Spike Jones was not born in 1940, he was born in Long Beach, California on December 14, 1911 and died in Beverly Hills, California on May 1, 1965 at the age of 53 of emphysema.
Report as inappropriate
He still making me smile!
Report as inappropriate
Lindley Armstrong "Spike" Jones was born in Long Beach, CA in 1940. He was a comedian until 1964. R.I.P. 1940-1964
Report as inappropriate
Can't stand the way he sing, but I love to hear him talk!
Report as inappropriate
wyeru
When my dad died in a plane crash my mom had to sell his complete 78 rpm collection of Spike Jones records. A local disc jockey basically stole them for $2 a pound. He got the whole collection for $25. I found out when I called her to ask what she planned to do with them. I had grown up listening to them. Sure wish I'd found out before she sold them. They were all great!
Report as inappropriate
dam this app leares out quotation marks....... . . . . . . .
Report as inappropriate
when I was a little my cousins shared their 78's with me, later as a teen in the 50's, I got aholt of Dinner music for people who aren't hungry. . . . . today my Spike Jones station plays mostly pale imitations of the true master. . . . . Long live the memory of truly insane superb musicianship
Report as inappropriate
Ah the memories
Report as inappropriate
In the days before television, in the rural Midwest, the radio and the Victrola were our relief from desperation. Spike Jones was our comedy relief. Brilliant!!!
Report as inappropriate
We love.spike Jones our fav song is would.you like.to by a bunnie we.hear it on kids place live!
Report as inappropriate
lcbigdaddy4
none like him today....
Report as inappropriate
Saw him on stage in San Francisco 1955. Wish we could turn the clock back a few years but then I would have to get old all over again.
Report as inappropriate
None like them,always make you smile.
Report as inappropriate
Spike and Zappa, 2 of the greatest composers the USA has produced, period!
Report as inappropriate
mike2641
Interesting! I hope that everyone's Saturday is going great!
Report as inappropriate
Spike Jones best "scary song" was his twist on "My Old Flame" hands down.
Report as inappropriate
Amen leolaolou and Watery Tart. Spike Jones was the King of comedy music, they should have more of Him. On that note, where is Allan Sherman? He was the true Prince of Parodies.
Report as inappropriate
We need more Spike Jones on Pandora! :)
Report as inappropriate
@Watery Tart: +1
Report as inappropriate
Spike Jones is sadly underreprese n t e d here! Worse, "Spooktacula r " is from when he was way past his prime. Pandora mods, if you're reading this, please add "Musical Depreciation Revue: The Spike Jones Anthology" (Rhino) to the library. Compiled by Cub Koda and Dr. Demento himself, it's really all you need. Thanks!

PS Dean Bagdasarian, are you per chance related to Ross Bagdasarian, aka David Seville?
Report as inappropriate
tazmo8448
boy it goes way back but remembering the mayhem li's kinda like Ernie Kovacs set to music they where and still are the benchmarks
Report as inappropriate
Spike Jones ,to me, was the 40's Frank Zappa

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